This letter was written by Burrell Dickenson Fletcher (1835-1885), the son of John Davidson Fletcher (1804-1850) and Mary D. Gleaves (1801-1835). At the time of the American Civil War, Burrell was married to Elizabeth A. Alexander (1840-1925) and resided in Murfreesboro, Rutherford county, Tennessee.
Burrell enlisted in November 1861 as a corporal in Co. D, 45th Tennessee Infantry but was soon promoted to serve as the Quartermaster Sergeant of the regiment. He was described as standing slightly over 5 feet tall, with light hair and blue eyes.
Fletcher wrote the letter to Pvt. Samuel J. Rucker (1824-1903), Co. C, 45th Tennessee (Confederate). Rucker was 37 years old when he enlisted in 1861 to serve as private in Capt. Addison Mitchell’s Company of Tennessee Vols. (Co. A, 45th Tenn). He was discharged in February 1862 but re-enlisted in August 1863 at Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was on detached duty in Erwin Hospital at Dalton, Georgia, in December 1863 by order of Gen. Bragg and served most of 1864 as a clerk in a military court in East Tennessee. Samuel Rucker was married to Ada Mitchell in February 1855 and resided in Brown’s Mill, Rutherford county, Tennessee, at the time of the Civil War.
The Tennessee 45th Infantry Regiment was organized at Camp Trousdale, Tennessee, in December, 1861. It participated in the Battle of Shiloh, was active at Baton Rouge, then served in the Jackson area. Later it was assigned to J. C. Brown’s, Brown’s and Reynolds’ Consolidated, and Palmer’s Brigade, Army of Tennessee. In November, 1863, it was consolidated with the 23rd Infantry Battalion. The regiment took an active part in the campaigns of the army from Murfreesboro to Atlanta , moving with General Hood back into Tennessee, but it was not engaged at Franklin and Nashville. It ended the war in North Carolina. The unit sustained 112 casualties at Murfreesboro, lost forty-three percent of the 226 at Chickamauga, and reported 12 men disabled at Missionary Ridge.
Addressed to Mr. Samuel J. Rucker, Care of Dr. Jos. A. Groves, Surgeon in Charge Erwin Hospital, Kingston, Ga.
January 31, 1864
Samuel J. Rucker
Your favor of the 23rd inst. is before me. I have no special news to communicate. We are getting along finely. The army is in better health and spirits than usual. The gloom that settled like a black cloud over it on the late retreat ¹ and under such dire consequences has at last been removed by the irresistible smiles of nature in mid-winter and the strong hand of [Gen. Joseph E.] Johns[t]on‘s discipline. Nature bids us be cheerful and helpful when ever the dark clouds of adversity hover over our pathway assuring us that sunshine and happiness will come ‘ere long.
Johns[t]on bids us be soldiers and act like men determined to find happiness in the freedom of the grave or the freedom of our loved land. He is teaching the army to be soldiers—a thing they have not known since Bragg left Kentucky. He gave them some fine lessons at Tupelo. It is strange but true that the more men have to do and sterner and more strict the discipline they are kept under, the better satisfied they are.
There are some very stringent orders now. I cannot go from my quarters to the regiment without a pass and Capt. [T. P.] Johnson has to wear a sword or carry a pass. He generally does the latter on account of “his native modesty.” We have inspections and reviews two or three times a week. I believe that there has been four this week. Some ladies came out from Nashville and I think [Benjamin F.] Cheatham wanted to make a show of his troops (Hardee’s Corps) and had them out where the ladies could see them. There were ten or fifteen ladies came out by flag of truce to Lafayette and were sent after by our division Quartermaster. He sent all the ambulances and a few wagons to bring them in. Our teamster and men who went with the train mixed with the Yankees very freely, traded, ate & drank together very friendly. Some of our men sent letters by the Yankees to be mailed at Chattanooga. The Yankees would furnish the with stamps and paper when they needed it.
Tom & Jim Fletcher both received letters from their wives about a week ago dated 20th and 21st of December. No news of importance except that Col. Hall had lost his youngest child—a fine boy. The people [are] generally well and getting along better than could be expected.
Those men from the Battalion who deserted some time ago came in day before yesterday of their own accord. They have been home to Lincoln county. Charges have been preferred against them and they are kept confined closely in the Brigade guard house. They report that the people are all enjoying themselves finely in Middle Tennessee away from the towns. They say that there is a negro provost marshal in Shelbyville—also three regiments of negroes. A man by the name of Graham ² of the 38th Alabama Regiment was shot accidentally near our quarters a day or two since by one of Maj. [Benjamin P.] Roy’s guards who shot at a beef that Andrew and the butchers were trying to kill. The beef was very wild and jumped out of the pen, came running by this man who fired, missed the beef, and struck Graham in the face. He died that evening.
Capt. [T. P.] Johnson has written you two letters since he received one from you. We are allowed under late orders only two wagons and one ambulance for our regiment and the Battalion. Our regiment & the 18th still refuse to re-enlist. I wonder if Congress has fixed a day to meet again? They seem to take more interest in that than anything else—at least most of the legislation is on that subject. I must close. Come up and see us. Bring your knitting &c.
Yours, — B. D. F.
¹ On November 25, the 45th/23rd Tennessee was stationed on top of Missionary Ridge, near the tunnel, and held their position until the line to their left was broken, when it retreated to Chickamauga, to Ringgold, to Dalton, Georgia, where it arrived on November 27, 1863. The 45th reported 12 casualties at Missionary Ridge. On December 14, at Dalton, the 45th/23rd reported 232 effectives out of 316 present. The 45th remained at Dalton, Georgia, until February 5, when it moved to Rome, Georgia, where it was engaged in building fortifications until February 25, when it returned to Dalton.
² I haven’t been able to identify this soldier. There is a possibility that Fletcher wrote 30th Alabama rather than 38th.