Published in Southern Star, Ozark, Alabama Jan. 5, 1916
Letter from William Archibald Edwards to Rufus Painter
Dallas, Tex., Nov. 11, 1915.
I wrote you for a list of my dear old Co. E. 15th Alabama Regiment who
are now living, and as you were sick Bro. Charley Edwards sent me the
following list vis.-W.R. Painter, W.C. Mizell Ozark; J.R. Edwards, Mat
Williams, Artion; C. V. Atkinson, Newton; Newt Curenton, Haw Ridge; Albert
Austin, Daleville; W.D. Byrd, B.W. Fleming, Enterprise; Dorse Fleming,
Geneva; C.G. Dillard, Ozark Route 1. To this I add the Texas list---Capt.
Wm. A. Edwards, 4019 Bowser St. Dallas Texas; A.N. Edwards, Gordon,
Tex.;Y.M. Edwards, Alvin, Tex.; J.P. Martin, Italy, Tex.; Ben Martin,
Waxahachie, Tex.; Wm. Mobly Crandal Dallas County, Tex. The above
constitute the list of survivors as I have it. If you know of any others
please add them to this.
The Company left home with 84 men enlisted all told 200. Returned home
after surrender 100. So you see 100 brave and as good men as Dale or any
other county ever raised sleep in some Northern or Southern cemetery or in
shallow crude graves on some battle field, or possibly some were buried
under the winter snow or to decay on some bloody hard fought battle ground
and their bones to bleach under a burning sun, and to their dust and memory
we say farewell dear comrades, and we hope some day to meet you beyond the
flash and roar of artillery and rattle of musketry.
It will probably be some interest to the friends and survivors of Co. E. to
read a short write up of the Company which I hope you will have the Star to
publish and send a copy to all living members. I t will likely be the last
message they will ever get from me as I am now past eighty and they are not
in their teens. I want each to take this as a personal letter and I would
be glad to have a letter from all of them.
No better Co. of citizens soldiers ever left any community than left
Westville on the 18th day of July 1861, 54 years ago the past July. No more
sumptuous feast was ever spread for departing patriots than was spread under
the shade of the beautiful oaks that stood around old Darian church. The
loving hands that prepared it have long since been wafted beyond the curse
of war and rage of battles by the angels of God. In all my life I have
never seen deeper and purer emotions or heard so tender farewells as
followed that sumptuous feast. Husbands and wives embraced in tender love
and with many it was the last embrace---fathers kissed their only
babes---mothers threw a mothers arm around her son and with a mothers deep
prayer sent her soldier boy to the conflict of battle and perils of war. And
some of the boys felt the tender touch of the bride-to-be as they clasped
hands that day. It thrilled their souls and nerved their arm for deeds of
daring until they either perished in the campaign or returned home under the
furled banner of the stars and bars. I have often been anxious to know if
any of them that got back got left.
"That day many parted,
Where few shall meet."
That night we camped at Fraziers mill on Pea river and almost the entire
company took a bath, and if there were either snakes, alligators or varmints
for miles around they took to the hills and swamps never to return. Such a
babel of voices and splashing of water I have never heard. The next night
we camped in the open streets of Perote, and its bests families welcomed us
with royal favors, and our third night out we stopped at Union Springs and
spent the Sabbath there, which stay will always be kindly remembered by
Co.E. That was the day of the first Manassas battle and Bull Run episode.
Many thought the war was ended and some kind hearted mothers hoped their
boys might see Richmond before they were disbanded. Well the boys saw
Richmond and beyond. How little we knew of war and the bitter cup before
We next find ourselves organized as Co. E. in the 15th Alabama Regiment.
Nothing of special interest to the Co. E until our regiment camped at Camp
Toombs between Centerville and Manassas. There Dick Neil died. This is
worthy of mentioning because he was the first member of Co. E that died and
the first one that had died in a regimental camp. He was honored as but few
soldiers are ever honored. The Regiment was drawn up to witness the solemn
burial, and Co. E with reversed arms and muffled drum followed the corpse to
the road that leads from Centerville to Manassas; and there in plain coffin
with a soldiers blanket for a winding sheet we buried him and a platoon of
Co. E fired a soldier salute about the lonely grave, and there on the lonely
spot unmarked by human hands and unknown to the busy world that passes that
way to-day sleeps the dust of Corporal Neil without a stain on his name or
character at home or in the army. It was the first crude shock that came to
Co. E and it threw a gloom over the folks at home as nothing had done. All
began to realize that war was on, and I remember at that camp Col. Canty
told me it would be a terrible struggle. We spent the winter at Manassas
and the only thing of special interest to Co. E was the task of getting
boards for winter quarters, a task I never heard a single member complain
I was sent with my Company across Bull Run to the east of Centerville in
the hilly and wooded country that had been but little occupied by soldiers
up to that time, to get boards to cover huts for winter quarters. And old
federal sympathizer lived about half a mile from our camp and killed hogs
one day, it would have been better had he killed all he had. I went up to
his house and wanted to buy a hasslet. He asked 50 cents for it and at that
time we thought ten or fifteen cents good pay. I went back where the boys
were at work and related what had occurred and I saw one of them give a
significant wink and asked "Do you love hasslet Captain and I told him yes."
Well to make a long story short, next morning when I woke up there was a ham
of a 250 pound hog slipped under my tent and a large hasslet hanging in
front and John Trawick, my cook, singing, whistling and frying liver and ham
just as happy as he could get and you remember John could get very happy. I
ate it and asked no questions for conscience sake, and as well as I remember
it was the first and last stolen meat I ate during the war.
1862 was the fighting year of the war. Before the ground had thawed and
the buds had burst into leaves we were taken from our pleasant quarters and
transferred to the valley and received a formal introduction to Stonewall
Jackson. There are two incidents in this campaign I wish to relate, not
battles the historian does that, but unnoticed and unknown to the historian
yet of interest to the Co. E. I allude to the death of Jno. Trawick and
Lieut. Mills. John Trawick was killed almost under the guns of Harper
Ferry, when we halted in our pursuit of Banks. We were resting on the
turn-pike when a gun accidentally discharged and shattered poor Johns heel
to pieces. He was carried to a Winchester Hospital, and in a few days I
received notice he was dead.
I want to say this for John Trawick, I detailed him to cook for me, and
he did more for my comfort than any one else has ever done. He carried my
luggage on marches. (He was big and strong.) When the Regiment halted if
it was mid-night. He spread my bedding and cooked my supper no matter how
tired he was, and I have often wondered if Israels chariot was sent down to
take that rough, rugged yet noble son of nature to a bright and better
Lieut. Mills was killed at Cross Keys, when an unexpected retreat was
ordered our regiment. He was a hightoned, brave christian gentlemen
confided in at home and honored and loved in the army. He was devoted to
his mess and his mess to him quiet, intelligent, refined and dignified a
high type of a christian gentleman yet he always impressed me that a cloud
was over his spirits an I have never thought he expected to survive the war,
and I thought and still think that terrible spectre of presentment was ever
before his eyes.
At night after the terrible battle of Gains Mills at Richmond after
night fall had covered the field of carnage and death which was strowed with
dead and dying, I fell on Billy Robinson, a fine speciman of manhood, tall,
angular swarthy, hair as black as a crow and fearless as a lion. He told me
he was mortally wounded and could live but a little while. He asked me who
held the field I told him we held it. Then he said I am willing to die.
Tell father I died fighting for my home and country, that I died brave and I
feel I am prepared for a better world. His father was a Methodist preacher.