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Hill Country Living

Soldier’s Account – Killed None, Lost None

This past week has actually held some things I want to write about, such as a trip with my child to the emergency room in the middle of the night, the end of this trainwreck of an election cycle, a visit from my mom, my dog Monkey somehow busting a water line under my house, etc. But it’s a Wagner Week and I’m too excited about voting to focus anyway. 

First, though, I would like to send my very deepest sympathy and condolences to the family, friends, and coworkers of Dustin Buice. He was the sweetest face at the BTC and will be sorely missed by all of his regulars.

The following letter is a Civil War letter from Daniel Wagner to John Young. I cannot believe I’ve never published it before but according to my email outbox, I have never sent it to the paper. It’s a real prize, hope you history folks enjoy.

15th Reg. W.V. Knox Co. KY, Oct 9th 1861

Dear Friend John

Thad Markette is going home to day, and I thought I would send you a few words to let you know that I am still in the “land of the living” and enjoying pretty good health at that – considering the rough times we have had. I used to think, at Corinth that we had a hard time, but we lived luxuriously compared to the way we get along now. 

After we left Knoxville we had to walk to Cumberland Gap a distance of 65 miles, we rested then one day and come up here (10 miles further) we staid here 2 or 3 days and then were ordered to go to Laurel Bridge about 45 miles in the interior of the state. 

Well we  started up there, carrying a pair of blankets and some provisions, and marched through cold rain the first 2 days, crossing streams, creeks and mud holes, waist deep, with nothing but wet bread and cold half cooked meat to sustain on. The 2nd day we came to Barbonsville where we staid all night — I suppose you heard that our troops had a battle at that place a few days before, when we got there the people had all fled, leaving everything they had, our mess camped under a tan shed near the battle ground, and all of us feeling rather wolfish, we appropriated a large kettle and a small shoat, and made a good supper, the next day we walked some 28 miles and arrived at the enemy’s camp about dark. 

They “vamoused” about a half hour before we got there, leaving 6 horses, 9 mens provisions, etc. all of which we took posession of. After that we cooked a little flour and bacon in a frying pan, and went to a bed, stuffed with irish feathers (pebble stones) and slept very well considering that we had a big feast that night. The next morning we heard that the enemy were coming to attack us, we were drawn up in line of Battle ready to recieve them and waited there for about a hour but learning that they were not coming, we about faced and marched back here. 

It taken us 3 days to get back and we had to live on what we could get, one night and morning we had but one dish (potatoe pumpkin). We made the most of it tho, we eat it raw, roasted, and fried, after we got here we were called on to take another tramp of 40 miles, about 35 of our Co. volunteered to go and among them, myself. We were gone 3 days and traveled over the roughest country you ever seen. This trip i helped to capture a prisoner. Myself and 9 others went out on a scout and captured him while he was trying to get away from some Tennessee soldiers. He was frightened nearly to death. We killed none and lost none, we took about 16 prisoners. Lt. Markett will tell you all the particulars and also where we expect to go to from here.

I believe we are to be paid off today. It would do us a heap of good if we could buy anything here. I am all most barefooted and the nearest place to buy shoes is Knoxville. I dont know how we will get along up here until they bring such things up.

Give my love to your parents and sisters and ll the young ladies in W Valley. and tell them I would like to see them all. Hoping this will find you in good health, I remain as ever, your friend,


To John E Young,

PS. You will excuse this bad writing when I tell you that I wrote this on an uneven knapsack lying on the ground.

Dr. McCorkle has been quite sick but is getting well again. For further particulars inquire to Thad Markette. 


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