1861 Oct 6


T. W. Key

Fayette County, West Virginia

Headquarters, Camp Defiance

October 6, 1861 AD

Mr. Harmon.

Dear Sir,

I embrace the opportunity of addressing you a few lines to let you hear from me once more.

I have nothing to write that will interest you more than we are here on Big Sewell Mountain.  We was in sight of the enemy last night and we was fixin’ to give them a fight, but when we got up this morning, we could not see anything of them.  Struck their tents sometime last night and went like woods ducks, and I reckon it was good for them, for we had concluded to fill a honorable soldier’s grave, or to whip the fight, one.


Harmon, we have hard times since we left Richmond, for they have us a running over these mountains, and half the time nothing to eat, and no tents to sleep under, but we like soldiers stood it finely without a murmur, though we have a plenty to eat now.

We had one side of the mountain very well fortified, and I think that we could of held our position very well, for we had a considerable force.  Some think that we was near equal in force, though I can’t tell but little about that.  We intended on whipping the fight if we could, let the forces be as they may.

We have seen and felt some of the hardships of a soldier’s life and I can say that I am willing to endure hardships in such a cause,  I live in the anticipation of living in an independent South, and when I return home, I feel confident that I shall come with a crown of a glorious victory and under the banner of a new Confederacy.

This country is one of the brokenest parts of the world that ever I’ve been in in all of my life; however, in passing through the country, we find some very pretty valleys and fine farms for grain, for that is all that can be raised in this part of the country.  I would not like to live in this part very long at a time.  There is some of the best water that I ever drank in my life.  This is a great stock county, the best range that I ever saw.

I believe we have plenty of fat beef to eat now.

Well, cousin, I have been waiting for it to quit raining, but it seems like it ain’t a-going to quit, and will finish my letter.

All of the company is generally well, except two or three cases.  My brother is very sick at this time.  He is the only one that is any way bad off.  W. D. and J. T. Cook is both well, and out on picket tonight.

Harmon, I will give you a small sketch about our officers.  We have got the bravest set of field officers in the world,  And as far as our Captain is concerned, he can’t be beat, for all of his men love him, and he loves them.  He said if his men gets killed, he wants to die with them.  He will stick to them to the last, and his men will follow him to the end of the world, the last one of them.

I have just heard from General Lee.  He has sent 15 thousand on pursuit of the Yankees to see where they go to, and to keep them from stopping and fortifying on the way.  I don’t think they will stop this side of Gawly River.  I don’t know whether we will all follow on after them or not.

We will have to take up winter quarters before long, and I will try and come home and see you all.

Show this to all my neighbors and inquiring friends, and tell them to write to me, and I want you to write soon, and when you write, write more, for all you letters have been short.

I must come to close by saying I remain yours truly until death.

T. W. Key

to Mr. W. H. Harden and wife