June 1863

From the 6th Regiment:

Camp at Guilford Station, VA.
June 22d, 1863

Editors Republic:-We are encamped at Guilford Station on the Alexandria and Leesburg R. R. We left our camp near Fredericksburg on the 12th inst. and four army Corp under command of Gen. Reynolds moved in direction of Warrenton junction. We reached there on the 14th inst. but our enemy showed new disposition to drive us from what was probably his most direct path but continued to move around us thus adhering to what seemed to be a principle with Him viz: never attempt to accomplish a thing by fighting that can be accomplished by hard marching. Our march was next directed toward Manassas and the impression that both armies would naturally drift on the field of bull run where the scenes of the former struggles on that memorable field would be reenacted or perhaps a new an independent scene a conclusive battle yet no three in order would be fought was irresistible I believe the Federal army was ready for such an event or seeming repetition No multiplicity of defeats no fear of fate or dread of destiny would have prompted them to avoid a battle at Hull run more than any other fields As it now appears however.

The enemy was inclined on some other object We marched all night on the 14th and reached Manassas at sunrise the next morning we halted here few hours and took up our line of march for Centerville, passing in sight of the famous bull run battlefield. The chain of forts which Beauregard erected along the R. R. and which he never had occasion to use still remain and evince his genius for fortifying a position. the huge brick house in which Beauregard had his Headquarters and which was used as a hospital for our wounded at the battle Gainesville stands like a dreary monument overlooking the graves of the thousands who fell in battle. From its windows many of our soldiers who were sounded at Gainesville watched the struggles on the field of Gull run; on the two succeeding days and for a while forgot their own sufferings amid their deep interest in the great conflict there going on.

We arrived at Centreville on the 15th and on the 17th moved through to this R.R. Where the main force of the rebel army is, Gen. Hooker undoubtedly best knows of any on our side of the question. The opinions which others form concerning it are mostly suggested by the disposition which gen. Hooker makes of his troops. There is but one corps at this place.

Yesterday gen. Pleasanton had a cavalry fight near Aldie, which resulted in his driving the enemy through Upperville and into Ashby's gap. He had a division of the 5th corps to assist him. the General say:-"it was a disastrous day to the rebel cavalry. the steady boom of cannon fell upon our ears throughout the entire day. It produced a disagreeable Sensation to know of a battle in progress so near us and not to be in it. I cannot imagine a soldier in a more unpleasant state of anxiety than to place him where he can hear all the noise and din of battle, where he can feel the shock that annihilates Brigades and not be a participant in the affair.-

Where we shall nest move and how soon we shall move, depends I doubt not on the development which Gen. Lee may make.

the first execution for desertion i this Division took place on the 12th inst. and was witnessed by the whole division. The deserter was a member of the 19th Ind. regiment of this brigade. He secured a grey uniform and attempted to pass as a deserter from the rebel army. He told a very plausible story claimed to belong to a Tennessee regiment and told where it was organized and in what part of the army it belonged It is said his parents wrote him to desert which I hpe is untrue. He said to some that he had not courage to go into battle, but the coolness in which he met his fate explodes the statement.

When asked to sit on his coffin where he was to be shot he did it as one would take a seat before a camera for hi counterpart remarking in the meantime however that he would rather stand. Twelve men who were to shoot him were already at their posts in front, and manifested more uneasiness than the criminal. their pieces where all loaded with balls but one which contained a blank cartridge-no one of them knowing who had the blank. He objected to being tried, saying he could hold still," but he was tied. He laid his breast bare to the bullets that were to pierce it with his own hands. The Provost Marshall tied a handkerchief around his head which blindfolded him and stepping back took his hat and waved the signal-"Ready." A division of soldiers who had been in many battles stood in breathless suspense. What a moment it must have been to the unfortunate victim who heard that awful click-the prelude to the last sound he was to hear on earth. He moved not a muscle. The signal -aim-was given and then that final, fatal word-fire!

R. J. H.