1861 July 30 Camp Pettis Fairfax County, Va.

My dear wife,

Your very welcome letter of the 21st came duly to hand
little did you think that at the very time you were writing it
the bullets were whistling about our ears as thick as hail.
it was certainly one of the most dreadful days I ever spent.
I did not at the time realize it, until it was all over and had
time for reflection, but I was never any more excited during the
fight than if I had been mending the old mill, not even so much
for you know I always got mad when I had that to do.
I stood it far beyond my own expectations, had I been in the ranks
I know I should have been excited, but you know I had the charge
of nearly 100 men’s lives, in my head, which by any wrong direction
of mine might have been all sacrificed and heaven seemed to
smile on our humble endeavours, I only had one man killed
and 4 slightly wounded. the wounded are all again at their duty-
in my company all of them refusing to be reported wounded. we was
in the fight about eight hours, during six hours of the time my company
alone, nearly a mile and a half from our Regiment–kept in check
seven thousand Yankees. they fixed us with their cannons
most of the time but did us very little harm as I had all of my
men posted in a position where their shot and shell could not
effect us much, nearly all of it passing over our heads some of their
shells burst among us without doing us any injury only slightly

[page 2]
wounding some of our men, which did not amount to much
as none of them were disabled. John Simpson poor fellow was
afterwards shot while gallantly charging with the company one
of the enemys Batteries, we charged right up and planted the
flag on the top of their guns driving their gunners from them
and having previously shot all the horses that hauled them, they
never could be moved from the place again till the fight was closed
which was shortly afterwards, it was in this charge that poor James
was taken prisoner, the last I saw of him was at this point,
and the enemy having hoisted the Confederate Colors I we
were ordered to cease firing, as we all thought that they were our friends
we were fighting. we retired about fifty or sixty paces when they
again opened a tremendous fire on us, but fresh troops coming
to our assistance, they were again driven back and completely
routed. I think it probably that when they hoisted the
confederate flag, that Jim took them for our friends and got
among them and was carried off him and Rob Lewis are the
only two missing from the Palmetto Riffles and some of our men
have seen a Washington paper which says that among the Prisoners
taken from the Rebels as they style us, are two of the Palmetto
Riflemen from South Carolina, so that they are Prisoners beyond
all doubt, you need not be the least alarmed, about his safety
as we have to[o] many of their prisoners in our hands for them to
perpetuate any outrage on ours.

We have advanced 5 miles from Stone Bridge in the direction
of Alexandria and joined General Jones Brigade of South
Carolinians consisting of the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th Regiments
I think an advance on Washington highly probable but dont know for certain.

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Your talk of coming out here to see me, nothing in the
world would give me more pleasure than to see you and
little Maggie, but Dear Creek you must not come, this is no
place for women and children, true they are much needed
in our Hospitals to wait on the sick and wounded, but the
Ladies of this country are very kind to them and do all in their
power to make them comfortable, and you know it would be
impossible for you to travel with me, as we do it all on foot and
often sleep out all night with nothing but the blue sky for a covering
but should it be my fate to get wounded on the field I will
Telegraph to Tom at Columbia for you to come and nurse me
should I require it, for I know I should soon recover with you beside
me, but until that time you had better stay at home and
take care of Dear Little Maggie I could not be happy if you and
her were separated. Should we be quartered near any town for any
length of time, I will let you know and shall be very happy to see you
here and you can bring Maggie with you but we are to[o] far away
at present from any point where you could come to by Rail and
it is impossible for you to get a private conveyance; I have just read
a letter from Jane to Billie, I am afraid Mr. Maxwell &c will make
me vain if they carry many more such reports home about me, you
need not be afraid of my rushing into a needless danger, what I have done
I only consider my duty, and shall still endeavour to do it, to the best
of my abilities, and I am ably supported in this by my company
who are as noble and gallant a set of men as ever entered a field of Battle
But I must close as the drum is beating for parade[?] and I have
to attend. Kiss our little darling for me and tell her papa sent it
Farewell Dear Creek Heaven Bless you.

William [Anderson]

4th Regiment South Carolina Volunteers [Palmetto Sharpshooters]

MSS 10366

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