4/18/2014 - The Flesh and Skin Was All Fell Off The Bones
John Wesley Stewart was a private in the Panola Rifles later designated Company H, 13th Georgia Infantry which was part of Brigadier General’s John Brown Gordon’s Brigade. The command eventually on 9 May fell under the control of Colonel Clement Evans. On both May 10th and May 12th, the 13th Georgia attacked the Union forces who had penetrated the Confederate lines and was heavily involved in the fighting for 22 hours at the “Mule Shoe” salient.

Stewart penned the following letter.

In Line of Battle near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia This May 15th, 1864

Dear Mother

I this morning take my seat on the ground to let you know that I am still alive when many fair fellow have fell by my side, but I cannot say that I am well. I have a very bad cold, and my shoulder is very sore from the kick of my gun. Mother, the fight is not over yet. We had to fight them every day for (?) and they are firing right close to here now, but I knew that you would be glad to hear from me and I thought that I would have a few minutes to write. We have lost six men out of our company. I don’t think you know any of them. I will give the names of the boys: James Jenkins, Frank Cook, Kinch Farr, Jack Huckeby, William Carey, Sean Henderson and we have fourteen or fifteen wounded. Michael is well and with the company.

Mother I haven’t got time to tell you now, I will tell in my next letter. Mother I saw the (?) sight this morning I ever saw since I been in the war. I saw over one thousand men lying on the top of the ground and had been killed last Sunday was a week ago and the flesh and skin was all fell off the bones and the maggots was eating them up. They were all Yankees. We buried all our dead. We always held the battlefield, but I cannot tell how it will turn out, but I hope and pray to God that it may tum out in our favor. Mother I cannot thank God or do anything half enough for sparing me through so many dangerous places. Mother give Him thanks for me. Mother I have not had a chance to pull off my shoes in seventeen days, and nights and I cannot tell when I will. I hope I will soon. Me and Micki have been through all of the fight and came out safe to the end. Mother I have not time to write any more to you, I don’t think you can read what I . I am in a very big hurry and I have lost so much sleep until I have not got any sense hardly.

I want you to write as soon as you get this for I haven’t heard from home in three weeks or more. I received a letter from near home this morning but it never stated anything about you. Mother this is Yankee paper, red white and blue. Mother give my love to all the family and tell May and Livey and Marfa to write to me.

So goodbye to my loving old Mother.

Your son J. W. Stewart

write soon.

J. W. Stewarts service records indicate that despite several visits to the hospital including one for sunstroke on June 11, 1864 he faithfully served. He was paroled near Farmville, Virginia between April 11th and April 15th 1865. Records indicate in 1916 he may have been living near Austin, Texas. Little is known of his post war career and his burial site is unkown. The letter was transcibed by Janelle Stewart Souder.