"It seemed hard for our gentlemanly looking soldiers to be mixed up with those yellow-clothed butternut heathens."


Oct 27, 2017
Rolling hills of southern Indiana
The following is an excerpt from a letter by Captain Wilford H. Welman of Company F, 59th Indiana. Published by the New Albany Daily Ledger, June 06, 1863. In my reply to this thread will be the full letter in three clippings from the Daily Ledger. In the letter he is recounting the events Vicksburg Campaign, the excerpt focusing on Champion Hill. You should take the time to read the full letter, as when he nears the end of his writing the flags of truce appear over the rebel works and he makes note of it. The letter is dated May 25th, 1863, right after the major assaults on the defenses of Vicksburg so I am guessing the flags of truce are for the collection of the federal dead and wounded.

From the beginning of the letter for context:

"KIND FRIEND: Your kind letter was received on yesterday, 24th. I am sorry to write you some of my troubles. I have always thought I had but few, but some have come pretty heavy within the past few days. At the battle of “Champion Hill,” twenty-four miles from here, I lost my noble brother, Felix Welman, Captain of Co. B, 24th Indiana. He was truly a noble brother. He had grown up large and bore a commanding appearance. I have become so I can bear anything, but I am sorry for my poor mother and my old father. This sad news will press them severely."

Champion Hill:

"We encamped one night, and set out at 7 A. M. for Vicksburg. Camped near Clinton, moved early next morning, and had a severe engagement at 12PM. Hovey’s and Logan’s divisions brought on the engagement, and Quimby’s division was ordered to act as support. The 59th was detached, and “double-quicked” one and a half miles to support Col. Leggatt. Whose ammunition was near exhausted. This threw us on the right and rear of the 24th Indiana. They and the 11th Indiana had a severe contest, charging and capturing a battery, but lost many good men. So soon as they were routed I found a boy belonging to the 24th, and he said Captain Welman was killed. I obtained leave and went over a half mile, and saw a terrible fight. It seemed hard for our gentlemanly looking soldiers to be mixed up with those yellow-clothed butternut heathens. Where the ground had been three or four times contested over, my brother fell, waving his sword over his boys, and cheering them forward. As I walked along the ridge for three fourths of a mile alone. Seeing numerous dead bodies and hearing the groans of the wounded and dying, I thought it was one of the most heart-rending occasions that one could imagine - far beyond description.
I found my regiment had moved two miles, and camped for the night. All the way along my route I had to be cautious about stumbling over the dead. My prayer is that I may never witness such a sight again."

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Jan 29, 2014
Abita Springs, LA
Of course, of interest to me is his description of the "heathens" as yellow clothed and butternut. I always wonder how literal these descriptions are as "butternut" became a pejorative. Now "yellow clothed", could this be a description of dirty drab uniforms?

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