We found it out too soon and We fell back to Lenoir, holding them until the morning of the 16th. Then we fell back eight miles to a place called Camden. There the Kingston road comes into the Knoxville road. The enemy crowded us so our rear guard skirmished all the way.
The 17th Michigan and our regiment, the 2nd Michigan, being the rear guard.
Here I will tell you something you may tell uncle John's folks. 0sro received a flesh wound in the back of his right leg. It is quite a bad one but he is doing quite well.
At Camden our Artillery took position and as the skirmishers came in the enemy attempted to charge in mass but they could not stand the shot and shells from the cannon. They had to fall back and wait for their artillery so they could do much that day. That night we took all of the wounded we could and drove to Knoxville. The enemy crowded us all the way.
Our men formed a line of battle around the city and have entrenched themselves and I suppose the enemy have done the same so you see we are besieged.
There has been quite sharp picket firing all of the time up to the morning of Nov. 24th.
Our regiment was ordered to charge down into the enemy rifle pits. There were many of our men on picket but the regiment went out with 125 men and lost 85 killed, wounded and missing.
There I will put in a word for Mrs. Davis. Darwin was one of the members that charged the engagement. He received a wound in the Knee joint of his left leg, taking off the knee cap so the joint was bare. He was left on the field and was taken prisoner but has since been exchanged. His leg was amputated just above the knee. He is doing well and I was down to see him this morning. He said his leg has started to heal and I think he will soon be well.
The rest of the Homer boys are all alright so far.
All went on about the same as usual until last Saturday night and Sunday morning. The enemy kept advancing on our pickets and they seemed to want to try the whole line.
In the morning just as it commenced to get light they charged on our men, on a Fort with six pieces of artillery. There is a line of rifle pits that connect this and the other forts to-gather. They charged with, as near as I can find out, two brigades.
Some of them got up on the fort but our men were too much for them for they had to fall back. you can guess the result with six pieces of artillery throwing grape and canister and the men in the pits and forts firing muskets into them point blank.
We took at least four hundred men unhurt and as many more wounded and killed.
There is a deep ditch in front of the fort and after they had jumped into it many could not get out and it was soon full The battery men took shells and lit them and threw them in by hand. The whole affair did not last more than a half an hour.
I was back of the fort with my ambulance and I tell you the balls and shells came there so thick we had to move out. Beside the prisoners we took four stand of colors.
After the battle was over our men sent out a flag of truce so we could get the wounded. I went around in front of the fort to see the dead and Wounded. I tell you it was a sad sight. The men were piled up in the ditch in perfect windrows in front of the fort.
The rebel Surgeon came over and helped get them out. Then they made a bargain to exchange some of our men for theirs and we took them to their lines in the ambulance.
I tell you they are a rough looking set of men. Some of them are very ragged and the Generals are very poorly dressed. It was by this agreement that Darwin was exchanged.
It has been pretty quiet since then but we expect reinforcements from Thomas' Army and we hear they are at Loudon. I have heard Cannonading so I think the tide has turned.
They were quite sure that they had us tight and cried Vicksburg to the pickets. They can easily talk to each other as they are so near.
I will have to give you the bill-of-fare in the besieged city. A quarter ration of bread made of unsifted meal and boiled rice. I don't know how it is made but it would make a dog sick to eat it. Then we get a quarter ration of meat (fresh or salt pork) and that is it. If one has money you can get better sometimes.
I received a letter from Harry just as we arrived and i also received a pair of gloves before we left Lenoir. They are worth a lot this cold weather.
I am anxious to hear from home again and i hope the siege will soon be lifted so the mail will go out and return. I don't know how soon this will go out but I thought I would write anyway so it would go the first thing.
Please write to Uncle and let Mrs. Davis know as soon as you receive this letter.
I will try to write more often after this and please write every week. I give my love to all and tell the little boys I would like to hear from them and that I would like to see them very much.
Laura I shall expect that photograph when King comes back.
No more this time so good bye. I remain as ever
your Loving Son
The enemy left last night but we don't know which way. I suppose Burnside does.