Letter from Austin, Matthew S.

Soldier: Austin, Matthew S.
Allegiance: Union
Unit/Service Branch: 5th Infantry
Home State: New Jersey
Date Written: Monday, July 20th, 1863
Location: Napperville, Va.
Correspondence Type: Letter
Subjects: Commanders, Eastern Theater, Family, On the March, Rumors
Bivouac of 5th N.J. Vols.,

Since my last, we have continued our march daily, passing through the following towns. (By reference to a map, you will see the course of our march). From our camp on the turnpike road from Burnsboro, Md. to Williamsport, some 5 miles from the latter town). We returned east about one mile, then south and east until we reached a turnpike road, running N. & S. from Burnsboro to Sharpsburg; through the latter place we marched on Wednesday (15th), crossed the ? and encamped for the night. Thursday (16), crossed the mountains and passed down the valley to within three miles of Harper’s Ferry. Friday P.M. (7), crossed on ? to Harper’s Ferry and encamped two miles from latter place, in the valley between the Blue Ridge and Short Hills. On Saturday (18) the head of the column reached Middleburg (or Charleston) just in the gap of Short Hills, on the road to Leesburg, about noon (a march of 9 miles) and, it appearing we had turned in the wrong direction, was halted where we remained until 5 a.m. Sunday (19). When we were again on the march, going south and passing through Woodville & encamping some 1½ south of that point. At 4 o’clock this a.m. we were up and soon on the road, about 7 filling into the road (headed west) from Snicker’s Gap to Leesburg. (this is a splendid road - the best we have marched on) Just at the ? of the mountain, we turned south again, keeping close to the mountains. About 4 p.m. the head of ? reached the turnpike road running from Leesburg (I believe) through ?pperville to ? in Ashby’s Gap. We are half a mile west from Wville and some 4, I understand, From ?. Cavalrymen who are now (5 pm) returning from the gap, report that they drove out a body of rebel cavalrymen, who were occupying it. I presume we shall resume the march tomorrow morning towards Manassas Gap. We are entirely ignorant as to the destination of the Corps. It is encamped here, each division in eight of the other.

Tuesday 21 - 9 a.m.

We are still in bivouac here and may remain all day or may move in an hour. We have no communication with Washington and shall not be able to send letters until we reach the Manassas Gap R.R. This rally is called “Pleasant” and is certainly so, in appearance. There is an entire change in everything - no crops here - no citizens but plenty evidence of having been overrun by contending armies. There are graves in every direction - principally of ? forces. A no. of men have joined the command this a.m. from hospitals. Our marches have been most severe, owing to heat. Yesterday we made the longest, with less fatigue than any we have had since we started in this direction. Poor management on the part of Division Commander, causes many hard words and an excess of fatigue, which might be avoided. We are making out pay rolls, so that it will take all the extra time at our command.

Enjoy excellent health. Send love to all.

M.S. Austin
2nd Lt. 5th N.J.V.