I was given this letter re: my great grandfather Francis M. Hayley, Co. C., 30th Arkansas Infantry this past week. It speaks for itself. I have seen 10 or 12 of his letters.
January 6th , 1863 letter Ward No E Georgia
January 6th 1863
My dear Laura, It is with pleasure that I write to inform you that we had one of the largest battles near Murfreesboro that has been fought during the war and give the Yankees one of the worst whippings that they ever had. We had about 40 thousand men, though not over 20 thousand were engaged in the fight. The Feds had 60-70 thousand, but whether they were all engaged or not I cannot tell. Our loss is estimated at (5000) five thousand in killed & wounded while the enemy’s loss is fifteen thousand killed & wounded & 4 or 5 thousand prisoners, 15 or twenty thousand stands of small arms, 40 pieces of cannons, 4 hundred wagons, & they were loaded with ammunitions, a great many negroes that had been stolen from our citizens. I have given you the general news, now I will give you all the particular as far as I was in the fight. We were encamped near Readyville, 12 miles from Murfreesboro, and on the evening of the 24 of December we received orders to cook two days rations and keep that much in our haversacks and be ready to march at a moment’s notice. But we thought that was done in order to keep the boys in camp during Christmas. So we fooled about and did not cook any more than enough to eat at one time. About two o’clock we was aroused upon orders to be ready in 5 minutes So here we was in a bad fix, nothing to eat and it raining dark as a n----r. We started on and got to Murfreesboro about 11 o’clock Saturday. We could distinctly hear the Yankee pickets fighting our cavalry. We expected to soon get into it but it rained, and we lay there until Monday morning when we received orders to move. We had not gone but two or three miles when the deep booming of the canon told too plainly that the work of death had begun. We did not yet enter it then. We went on about two miles further and lay in line of battle all night & expected to go into the fight the next morning, but it rained all of the morning. So no fighting did not take place except pickets until late in the evening when some of the heaviest cannonading took place that I nearly every heard. They threw shells into our brigade but did not do much damage. That night we advanced some 4 or 5 hundred yards and lay in line of battle until awhile before day the next morning (which was the 31st), when we were aroused up and by day light we were packed & had orders to move forward. We went some two hundred yards when they began to fire on us but stole on. We went until we got in 150 yards of them and began to fire. They began to give back when we got orders to change west and go after them in a tolerable fas run leading & firing as we went. We drove then about 2 miles, covering the ground with their badly wounded. It was in this charge that Captain Thomas was killed. He was shot through the neck & died without a struggle. He was a noble & a good man & his death is deeply lamented by all of the company. All that I can say is that he died at his post while gallantly leading his men to victory. He was the only man that was killed in the company. P.M. Ballew & J.A. Sloan were wounded here. We halted and reformed our line and moved on them again, still driving them before us until we drove them 2 or three miles further when they halted and planted 5 or 6 batteries behind some thick cedar bushes. There was no way to get to there except through another field. We started but had to fall back as they opened on us with their cannon shells. In retreating, I got separated from my command and got in with another brigade and made the charge with them. They fell back & it was here that I was wounded in the back of my neck and towards my right ear and come out just behind my neck vein. It was a very narrow escape. If the ball had gone 1 inch further forward, it would have killed me dead, but as it is the worst part is over. But it is in such a terrible place that it pains me very much. I don’t want you to feel uneasy about me at all, for I am doing very well. I have a good bed to lie on and have every necessary attention paid me. Brother Newt did not get hurt at all, Charley, Jim Langston, Jake Linderman, Roscoe, & Gil Tarkington were not in the fight at all. George Powell was not hurt the last that I knew. There were a great many killed & wounded in the charge when I got separated, but none of our company was killed that I know of as I did not see any of them after I was wounded. W.E. Garner, W.D. Ward, J.A. Newsome, & J.A. Cox were slightly wounded by a shell.
(your faithful husband
F M Hayley)