Note: Wherein Charlie discovers the true feelings of reverence that western soldiers hold for the Army of the Potomac.
Camp near Murfreesboro
March 25th 1863
I have at last got to the end of my journey for a time at least, and now we are all together. That is, the regiment is all here except Companies H and F who are on their way here from Fort Kearny. We got here day before yesterday and to-day commenced our duties with the regiment. Ours is the only regiment of regular cavalry in the western army, and they are considered equal to four regiments of southern men. Everybody here talks about the gallant deeds of the “Fourth” in the battles and skirmishes here, and laughs at the “Army of the Potomac” and their actions. They think the eastern troops have done nothing but eat soft bread, potatoes and all the goods of the commissary, while occupying comfortable quarters, leaving the western troops to do all the fighting.
There is no use in my trying to argue with them or to mention any of the battles of the east to prove the “Army of the Potomac” not altogether worthless. If I mentioned Fredericksburg they are ready to prove that the western boys done all the fighting there. Ditto for Malvern hills, Antietam, and all the rest, so at last I am half persuaded that we have been in the wrong shop all the while, and this is the true field of play.
The rebels are getting troublesome in our front here and skirmishing is going on all the whill (sic). The guerillas, too, are trying to bother the Rail-Road and wagons between here and Nashville. We escorted a train of Sixty wagons (sic) up from Nashville and had the luck to come through safe, but some poor fellows of sutlers got burnt out on the road only two hours ahead of us. The troops here have an idea that they are going through to new Orleans without any trouble but I have my own ideas about it. I shouldn’t wonder if General Rosencrans (sic) was to wake up some fine day and find Bragg had played a first of April trick on him and got in his rear.
I am now acting as “Camp-Kettle-Sergeant,” or “Cracker boss” for the Company, for that is what the men call the Commisary Sergeant, and so shall not be in much danger of losing my precious life unless Morgans (sic) guerillas get hold of the train. If that happens I must trust to the speed of my new Bucephalus. That reminds me to tell you that of the poor horses now in the service none can be worse than those we got in Cincinnatti (sic). Of all ages, color, and sex, low in flesh and high in bone, well broke, in wind and limbs such another lot never got together to make the owners swear and others laugh. But good bye for now and remember me to all. I remain your Affect. Son
Charles E. Bates
(Direct) Co E 4th U.S. Cavalry, camp near Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Be sure and put in the U.S.