The average Confederate soldier is a young man in his early 20s, unshaven, unkempt, gaunt, but tough from months of difficult living. The Rebel soldier’s woolen hat and uniform is grey, ragged form either having been worn too long, or having been “handed down” from a dead soldier. It is not uncommon for the uniforms to be ill-fitting, with sleeves either too short or too long, and to have buttons missing. Those lucky enough to have a fitting pair of shoes often nail horseshoes to them to prevent the soles from wearing down. While the confederate soldier’s appearance may be shabby, his spirit leads him to the charge.
Confederate soldiers sometimes have to wait months before being compensated for their service, which means their families, left behind and waiting for support, often go months without eating. The Macon Daily Telegraph carried this story about the unrelenting spirit of the Confederate soldier, despite having to face not just a better equipped and larger enemy but the hardship of simply trying to survive.
It is said that some of the heroic men of Jackson’s corps, during the late forced march to the rear of the enemy, rather than straggle or be left behind, fell dead in their tracks from sheer exhaustion. That this indomitable spirit was not confined to Jackson’s men, but inspired the whole army, the following extract from a letter, written by the commander of a light battery from this city, will show. The battles had not commenced when the letter was written:
Camp near Fredericksburg,
April 30th, 1863.
“Yesterday we received, very suddenly, an order to the front, distant 25 miles. Starting with all the inevitable entanglements and delays about 11½ a.m., we marched till 3 a.m. this morning, and some till long after day. My battery being in the rear of the column, came in last–about sun-rise. Our provisions followed us into camp at 12 M. to-day. The march was through mud, mud, mud and cold northeast rain; no sleep, no food. You should have seen the boys of my battery, almost falling asleep as they stumbled through the dark, clinging mist–yet plunging at the word, in knee slush and mud, to play at horses and push the guns up on the fagged out brutes. Some oaths and some grumbling, but at bottom a will to do it.
“These men, the privates, marched 25 miles, through rain, mud and night; carrying on their backs all their worldly goods, and about half the time helping the horses along.”
Such are the men who compose Lee’s army, and defend this city from the horrible outrages of the cowardly and brutal foe. They show such spirit in defending us, what ought we to do for them when they are sick and wounded?