Burns, Robert – July 16, 1863

Michigan Civil War Collection

Click here for this soldier’s biography:

Regiment: 4th Michigan Calvary

Battles Mentioned: Vicksburg, Mississippi

Historical Figures: Abraham Lincoln, Braxton Bragg, David S. Stanley, Don C. Buell, George G. Meade, Ulysses S. Grant

Huntsville Alabama July 16, 1863
My dear Brother,
We dropped in here yesterday for
a few days after diners and sunday wanderings up
and down the country. How long we shall remain the
military powers that he can only tell. We have been
in the saddle nearly all the time since I wrote you
last (July 4th). One the 13th we entered Alabama and began
carrying out the President’s Proclamation. There is a great dif-
ference in the treatment of the states Lincoln considers
out of the Union and there excepted by him. Every able
bodied negro, every serviceable horse and mule is siezed
and confiscated. The darkies are obliged to go with
us whether they wish it or not. What is to be done
with them I can’t tell. Last night for the first
time since I left you I slept in a bed. I am
now sitting in a house on a mahogany hair-bottomed
chair writing on a mahogany table. The ma-
jority of the inhabitants have fled from this place
and we have occupied their houses. The campaign
this year is to be an altogether different one from the
one Genl Buell so tenderly carried on a year ago.
The inhabitants here are to learn what war is.
They must subsist this wayt and then when the
war is over and they can prove their loyalty they will
be paid. Buell paid $20 per ton for hay. so
much for corn, grain, flour &c &c. That is “played
out.” A receipt for the amount is given now, and
proved loyalists will receive their money one of these days.
The county will not be enriched much by all they
get, as nearly all are rebels. Genl. Stanley has just
issued a proclamation to the people of Huntsville that if they

will bring in enough forage and eatables fo to supply
his command he will not send out foraging parties
and will allow them to keep enough to subsist them-
selves; but if they do not parties will be sent out
who will help themselves without being very par-
ticular whether anything is left on the plantation or
We have not met any of the rebels since I
wrote you except stragglers and deserters. Bragg
is supposed to be in Chattanooga and all forces are
South of the Tennessee River. We may be going to
Chattanooga or Mobile. You can take your choice,
I can’t dispute it. Since the taking of Vicksburg
I suppose Grant is loose to turn his attention to Miss-
issippi and West Alabama. I think we are going to
clean the rebels out from the West. When that is
done we will give Genl Meade a helping hand.
This is a beautiful place of about 3000 inhab-
itants ie when the houses are filled. The
people were very wealthy but the greater part
of their riches has walked away. We are
completely overshadowed by darkies. They are
everywhere of all ages, sexes and shades.
I have been and am yet very well. and hope
that I have at length be come acclimated. Our
army, that is the fighting portion of it, is re-
markably healthy. We left a good many “weakly”
over at Murfreesboro with whom campaigning
did not agree, among others Joe Huston. He
started out with us but went back the second
day out. Joe never will make much of a soldier.
Our wagons have not yet reached us and
we are compelled to wear the same clothese

we started in. When you think that we have
been obliged to sleep in them in the rain
and mud, you can easily imagine how
clean they must be by this time. I looked
in a glass yesterday for the first time in
more than three weeks and must confess I
was disgusted with my appearance. Black
dirty and fat describes it. Should we
make our app visit you now in Kalamazoo
you would see that you were well gloved
before you shook hands with us. Officers
are no better off than the men. All look
alike. We pray daily for our wagons to ar-
rived. I do not know when you will re-
ceive this as we are now beyond all mail
communication. Give my love to Mother
I wish you would write to me at Murfrees-
boro as usual. I shall try to keep you
posted as to our movements. Good bye
Your affect brother

I received the field glass and smashed
it all to pieces the day we went into
Shelbyville. I do not think I shall get
any more. The speculation is a bad one

[On Envelope:]

July 30, 1863

J. Davidson Burns Esq
Miller & Burns

July 16