Today in History:

1863, July 5 - Just after the battle of Gettysburg

This letter was likely more positive a letter than really felt following the battle of Gettysburg.  The disposition of the troops and a general subsequent order of battle is provided.  Near the close, the author refers to a William (Wm) who may be a slave in his service, accompanying him with the army. Camp near Fairfield Adams Co. Pa. July 5th 1863
My Darling:

   I know you are anxious to hear from me & now while the amries are again mustering for battle, as I sit on my bundle of straw that Wm has brought me to rest on, I will write to you a few lines. I wrote to you from Carlisle -- our Cavalry went to within 2 1/2 miles of Harrisburg & scared the people there greatly, but Gen. Lee finding that the Yankee army had advanced to Gettysburg, as he expected, and so we were ordered back to take part in the great Battle -- Gen. Early, I wrote to you, had been to York & destroyed the bridge over the Susquehanna at Columbia -- so on Tuesday, June 30th, we marched one division of our army across the South Mt. (Blue Ridge) towards York & joined Early's Division, Johnson went back to Chambersburg the day before & crossed towards Gettysburg that Wednesday we turned towards Gettysburg & encountered the enemy some 2 miles from G. and drove them in splendidly -- routing them completely and taking many prisoners, but there was not enough of our army up to enable us to pursue, though the 3rd Corps had come upon our right & fought some -- The enemy fought stubbornly & lost many killed & wounded that evening Gen. Lee came up & Longstreet & the next morning we formed a line of battle to the west of the town, crescent shaped, the enemy had possession of a line of hills, on the slope of one end of which the town of Gettysburg is situated -- above the town, about 1/4 mile, the ridge attains it greatest height & is crowned by a cemetery, enclosed by a substantial wall, another elevation, farther on, was crowned by woods & they fortified that in the night & their whole army was there, formidably entrenched & posted as we advanced on drove them to their works & though our men advanced boldly to the works & stormed them, some getting in to them, but the enemy repulsed us, & though we surrounded them our efforts to take the heights were unavailing & our loss was very great, both in officers & men. -- We renewed the fight of Friday with no better success -- though we killed many of the enemy & took many prisoners, some 7 or 8 thousand, but our loss was also heavy & in the evening it was decided, in a council of war, to fall back & compel the enemy to come out to a fair field & also to send to Va. the large train of wagons, horses, stores &c that we had captured -- they were started yesterday & we fell back to the line of hills W. of the town -- the enemy did not follow & we spent the day moving our wounded , our trains &c -- the success of the first day was great, of the two following days we cannot say that are gained anything by them Capt Richardson, an engineer that joined us, since Boswell's death, was badly wounded in the side & we leave him in the hands of the enemy -- we move all that are able to be moved -- I saw St. Clair Kyle today & he says none of his Co. were killed, tho Reeves was wounded & some other -- I shall learn about the 52nd before I send this -- We have an abundance here -- and if the enemy follows us -page four- today again we shall fight them near here & by God's blessing shall win, for the advantage will not all be on our side -- I have been spared so far & am not as much exposed to danger as I used to be -- Gen E -- confining me to my special duties & not asking me often to do any others -- he announced me as Capt. and Top Eng. of his staff in the orders announcing to the Corps the persons composing his staff --

    July 7th We have slowly fallen back across the So. Mt. through Waynesboro & on to near Hagerstown and are encamped there -- it is said with the intention of remaining, or offering the enemy battle on fair grounds -- The enemy has followed slowly as we retired and our army is in fine spirits not withstanding the reverses of the last few days we had sent a train of wagons through to Williamsport several days ago which the enemy's cavalry fell on in a Mt. pass & captured 53 -- The rest escaped & Imboden came up and became a general (nuisence) to them yesterday, before our advance got here, the enemy's cavalry came up and demanded a surrender of Imboden he resisted & in the meantime Stuart fell on the enemy's rear and routed them & raised the siege & we are now in communication through again & I hope to send this today -- Knowing how anxious you are to hear from me -- Wm. says tell May she need never expect to see me, for I am scared to death, though well & hearty -- he alludes to a few shells that fell near the wagon train a few days ago & scared the darkies & wagoners nearly to death -- He has been an excellent servant to me & has shown no disposition to leave me, or neglect his duties. I heard of the safe arrival of my purchases in Winchester & hope they have gone on home -- they were directed to the care of Maj. Bell -- and were left at Dr McGuire's in Winchester -- I saw Hotch Stover today & he is well -- also one of the Dinkel boys -- Kisses for my babes & God's blessings for you all -- how I long to see you -- Good bye

Your Aff husband
Jed. Hotchkiss