This letter was written by William H. Smith of the 2nd Missouri (Confederate) Infantry.
Both the 2nd and 6th Missouri were in Francis M. Cockrell’s Missouri Brigade. The 2nd Missouri was organized on January 16, 1862, made up of volunteers from the Missouri State Guard. The 6th Missouri was organized later that year in May, when all remaining MSG under Sterling Price were transferred to the Confederate Army. The Missouri Brigade was arguably one of the finest Confederate brigades in the western theater – well commanded, drilled, and known for fightin’. Its ranks primarily consisted of Missouri State Guard veterans and it was praised for its conduct at Elkhorn Tavern, Corinth, Champion Hill, and Vicksburg.
After the fall of Vicksburg the brigade was exchanged in Sept. 1863 at Demopolis, AL where it was reorganized and its regiments, including the 2nd and 6th, were consolidated. It was then sent with Polk’s Army of Mississippi to join the Army of Tennessee in May, 1864. From then on it served throughout the Atlanta Campaign, fought at Allatoona Pass, and was decimated at Franklin. The remnants went on to garrison Fort Blakely in the Mobile Campaign, where they were eventually overrun and captured during the Federal attack on April 9, 1865.
The flag of the 2nd & 6th Missouri was captured in the assault at Franklin by Sgt. Alfred Ransbotton of the 97th Ohio Infantry. The color bearer managed to reach the Federal entrenchments at the Carter Cotton Gin and plant the colors on the parapet, where he was shot down and flag pulled over the works.
March 29, 1864
I have just returned from Columbus, Mississippi, where I received your brief favor by flag-of-truce of the 24th February with its assurance of your “existence.” I will here add I did not doubt your existence in some state, but thought I had probable grounds of misgiving for that in which I let you. But enough of this. Let us make the best of the future. However, I must say I would have you give a preference to foolscap instead of note in the future if procurable.
All your friends are well here. H. Royal just heard from. Says he is “doing well.” Occasionally some of our purely Missouri command become desperate enough to act rashly in this “sunny region” and commit themselves forever — none I believe you know though. Indeed, were you to see the daily mail you would imagine the whole brigade had sweethearts within our lines. I alone have “no one to love” here.
Poor Ned — like my dear brother — has long since filled a soldier’s grave, doubtless, as we have never been able to get any trace of him since just as the regiment was ordered to fall back from the defenses at bloody Corinth. I have made every effort, I assure you, to learn something of his fate.
Write care of 2nd Missouri Infantry, Army in Mississippi
Yours, W. H. Smith
My kindest regards to all. I sent you my photograph.