Valley of the Shadow


Burr describes Staunton, Virginia. He also writes that "laggard" officers should be forced to duty.

The Telegraph [Macon {Georgia} Daily Telegraph]

Staunton, Va.

Staunton, the place of my present sojourn, is a beautiful town, of some four or five thousand inhabitants, situated in a little valley, completely hemmed in by immediately surrounding hills. It is a little north of east from Richmond, and west of south from Winchester--nearly equidistant from either point. The supplies for our army in Virginia are now mainly transported to this point by railroad, and thence to the army by wagons. There are a number of hospitals here, which are rapidly overflowing with an excess of sick and wounded soldiers who daily arrive from the army. There were originally two newspapers here, both of which have been suspended until recently. The "Spectator" has been resumed, but does not present the appearance of probable success. There is at present but one hotel in the place, and that is crowded to overflowing; it is called the "Virginia Hotel."--The former "American" Hotel, situated immediately on the Railroad; has been appropriated by the Government for hospital purposes.

The time which I am necessarily enforced to remain here, drags very heavily on my hands--especially as my health is not good. Like most of towns in Virginia, little is to be seen but moving masses of soldiers, ambulances, transport wagons, floating officers of all grades, men and women in search of sich or wounded relatives, etc.

We get no news of importance from the army. Conjecture and speculation are rife, but nothing definite in reference to the plans of our Generals is permitted to reach the public. The Richmond papers profess to see farther through a mill stone than their neighbors, but I doubt if they know sufficient to speak by the card. One thing is certain, the interval of rest which is being afforded our army, cannot but be conducive to good results. Clothing and food are being furnished the soldiers, the ranks are filling up, health is improving, and in a few days the troops will be fully prepared, as they are anxious, to welcome the enemy to another contest of arms.

It is stated that no less than ten Georgia Colonels were acting Brigadier Generals at the battle of Sharpsburg! Thus it will be seen that Georgia troops and Georgia officers have no inconsiderable proportion of the risks and burthens of this war to encounter. But what becomes of the Generals, whose places it is thus necessary to fill, in the thick of flight?--That is a question, I apprehend, which President Davis and the War Department would do well to consider. While the poor, worn down privates are being goaded on to the army almost at point of bayonet, is there not some way to reach and compel laggard officers to the discharge of their duty? If "stragglers" are to be dealt with summarily, let there be no distinction made between officers and men; it is as much incumbent upon the one class to be at their post as the other.

Col. Douglas' brother left here this morning en route for Shepherdstown, to procure and have carried home, if possible, the dead hero's body. It is interred at the last mentioned place, and I apprehend there will be no difficulty in getting it, even if the enemy should be in possession of the town--which I am not sure is the fact. Col. Mercer of the 21st Georgia, passed up with Lieut. Douglas; Col. Stiles left here yesterday also, to join his command.

I am informed by Col. Marcer, that Capt. Nisbet, of his regiment, who was reported killed at Sharpsburg, was not injured, being at the time of that battle, in Richmond on business.