Return to Mississippi Soldiers in the Civil War
In Bivouac 4 miles from Ripley,
Wednesday 1st Oct. 1862.
Dear Sister Mat. [Martha Jane Banks]
Here’s a piece of paper I have carried in my pocket several days thinking to write a line or two whenever I could.
I wrote day before yesterday and mailed my letter at Ripley — a beautiful place, the county seat of Tippah.
Col. Holland has just sent for me — I found him with jacket, pants and shirt — he had his horse shot under him at Iuka; lost all of clothing ‘twas the same pony he thought so much of at Columbus. I have not seen Davis for several days. The last time I met him, I thought he was really handsome. He always looked so neat and clean, by the side of us poor dirty soldiers — for the information of one at home I will add that he has turned out his whiskers, they are of a beautiful rich, black, and add wonderfully to his appearance.
See such a difference between an officer and a private, that I would apply most certainly for a cadetship or any other position if I was at home, so that I could attend to it — would make application anyhow if ‘twere not for troubling pa, he’s getting old and I dislike to annoy him with my affairs. We have been here and still are seeing terrible times — marching all day and sleeping out without shelter of any kind from the weather at night. The dew is almost like a shower of rain, never saw it so heavy as ‘twas last night.
I dread this winter very much — Many a poor fellow in our company will “yield his carcass to the dust” before ‘tis over — I can stand it as well as any of them — I believe that ‘twill be no child’s play for any of us. Infantry have an easy time in camp, but it is fully compensated for when, after a heavy march of a hundred or two miles, the bloody conflict comes on — I do not regret one particle, enlisting, if ‘twere to do over I would volunteer again, but would not go as a private — But enough of this, I will not repine at the past, but hope that before another moon shall have passed to strike a blow for my country that will tell. Although, we have so many hardships to undergo, if I am but able to render any assistance to the land of my nativity either by sending a Yankee home with a “bug in his ear” or merely by following General Price on another “wild goose chase”, then all of my tolls will be repaid — Cannot write more now — remember I write under very disparaging circumstances, i. e. soiled paper, nothing but my knee to write upon, and lastly with the certainty of a hard day’s march before me.
Adieu — More anon [Robert W. Banks]
“Civil War Letters of Robert W. Banks,” Journal of Mississippi History; 5 (July, 1943) : 146