Corporal I. Barton Ulmer, Company A, 3rd Alabama Cavalry Regiment
Near Winchester, Tennessee, November 7th, 1862
My Dear Mother,
I now have a short time to write and as Mr. Caraway1 will leave in the morning for Choctaw – discharged – I will send it by him. Your last letter I received was dated 22nd September! You certainly could have written layer. My last was written and sent by D. H. Lee2 but as that contained nothing but a description a description of what I needed in the clothing line, I will endeavor to write about something else.
You have no doubt read all about our trip in Kentucky in the papers, but a few incidents concerning our company will not be uninteresting. I know for twenty-six days we had with the Yankees twenty-three fights, and in all our trip we sum up thirty fights (or skirmishes) and one general engagement, and yet escaped with the loss of only one horse and one man wounded. The hand of Providence certainly interceded on our behalf for we have passed from many dangerous places and it is wonderful that we have not all been killed. At Perryville, General Bragg found the Yankees pressing his rear too hotly and he halted and, with a portion of his army, gave them battle. General [Joseph] Wheeler’s brigade fought them all day before the battle came off; charged them once with the 3rd Alabama [Cavalry] and the rest of the day consisted of skirmishing & etc. Our company that day was not in the charge but was dismounted and fought as skirmishers. Captain Cathey’s company [F] lost four men in the charge – the Captain – two sergeants and one man.3
General Wheeler led the charge himself; and on several occasions, has proved a gallant and successful leader. He has been promoted to the rank of “Chief of Cavalry”. The next day, at the battle of Perryville our position was on the left wing and for a whole day – from 9 o’clock in the morning to 9 at night – Kept the enemy’s Artillery – infantry – and Cavalry at bay. Our Company made one charge that day, and fought them as skirmishers nearly all day. On receiving the charge the enemy broke and fled in every direction. I was not in the charge. I started but was sent back by one of General Wheeler’s aids, to carry an order to the Battery4, and did not get back until the company was coming out5. The battle of Perryville was warm as that of Shiloh but not quite as many men engaged on our side. In the evening I witnessed what I have read of often – but what I never saw before – an Artillery Duel: One of the grandest scenes I suppose in the world. The roar was terrific and the flashes (it was night) of the Pieces, with the clouds of smoke, and Bombs bursting on every side of it made up one of the prettiest sights – and at the same time one of the most terrible sights in the world. The 3rd Alabama I believe has won a name for itself. General Wheeler calls it the honest “Third” and the “brave Third”. He reported to General Bragg that he never saw but one regiment in his life, that a shell could burst in its center, and it would not give way. Our company too, with the Colonel6 and with the
Regt General has required7 a Reputation as one of the promptest companies in the brigade. And it is all owing to Captain [William W.] Lang. He too has been complemented for Sagacity and for Gallantry on the field, and has already been offered the command of a Squadron of Lancers. Our Company has determined to take the Lances and let the carbines go. It is an open and brilliant field, and if Lang takes charge of the Squadron, I prophesize he will make a name for himself and for his company. But enough of Egotism and war maters. Enough to know Major [Frank Y.] Gaines has gone down down down8 and Captain Lang, the object of his aversion has climbed up the ladder of fame a little higher than he ever will. I am well, – in addition to my “outfit” if not already sent by [Daniel H.] Lee – make me an Over Coat with a Cape Coming down to the waist, and skirts reaching to the Knees. Elijah sends “howdye” and that he is doing very well9. I now have a horse for him to ride, but I don’t know how long I will be allowed feed for him, as a non-commissioned Officer is only allowed one horse. If possible I will send Elijah home, about Christmas, on a visit. He says he wants to come home to see you once more. Write soon. Love to all. I hope the health of all is rapidly improving.
Your affectionate Son