Hd. qrs 11th Corps
Charleston (on the Hiwassee) Tenn.
My dear brother
If Capt Stinson had not just upset my little pocket ink-stand I should have written you a tremendously long letter upon this stupendous sheet. The paper was captured from the office of the Athens Post – a flourishing Rebel paper publication as its name indicates – of the town 14 miles above here. I believe I did not write you but I wrote mother a brief letter from there. It is the County-town of McMinn Co. There are many warm union citizens – men, women and children there. Sherman caught the Editor of the Athens Post running away into the mountains, trying to get off toward North Carolina or Georgia. He was originally from New Jersey but told Sherman he was a Secessionist. So Sherman says he shall advise his banishment to the Coast of Africa since that is the only place where Secession can be allowed. Some old copies of the Athens Post show that the Editor was a rank Rebel. He had some pretty daughters and Gilbreth (Lieut.) who boarded there had most vivacious discussions with them to use a mild term.
You perceive we are wending our way back. The Rebels, while we were gone, got at and destroyed this Charleston R.R. Bridge which we spent a whole night in repairing on our way up. So we had to rebuild it – taking another day and night’s work.
The cowardly Cavalry guard ran away on the strength of a rumor of the enemy’s approach. Today is Sunday. One week ago we visited Knoxville. We hear now that Burnside moved out in pursuit of Longstreet as soon as Granger’s Corps got up and that in conjunction with Foster from Cumberland Gap and the Cavalry, he has taken 5000 prisoners, week ago today at Knoxville. [...]
It is raining today and this evening we had a Thunder storm – Thunder & lightning in December is an unusual phenomenon for me to witness. I suppose the rainy season will soon set in. Hope we will get to our camps first. The men are suffering much for shoes and entire brigades have been without blankets throughout the campaign – starting out as they did first to battle and then without turning back pushing on after Bragg and thence changing their course and hastening without pause to the relief of Burnside. [...]
Please keep all these things as confidential i.e. belonging to the family. Write me often. I don’t know but that you are in Washington! In (I ought say) Bombay! Only I don’t think it probable you would go to the latter place even though you had a half century to do it in. If you are in the land of Civilization please so state and I will get the letter when I arrive at the peaceful borders of the same.
Your Affectionate brother, C. H. Howard