Life for the Newton Dreadnaught Company as They travelled from Texas to Little Rock, Arkansas
By Jonnie Miller
In his July 4th, 1862 letter to his wife, Nancy, Capt. William Blewett stated the company was camped near Coffeeville TX and that it would take 15 to 20 days to get to Little Rock, Arkansas. He bragged to Nancy that he had actually put on 10-15 pounds since he left home and that he was in good health. He reported that "…The Dreadnaughts are generally well. Several of the boys are complaining but all of them are able to ride…" and that "…the health of the regiment is generally good."
The regiment travelled 15-20 miles a day which caused concern for the health of the horses. The company had found plenty of corn for the horses but knew that it would get scarcer as they came closer to Little Rock. Another worry was getting the horses shod as "…a great many of them being tender footed and the roads are rocky and very rough."
Just as today's soldiers, Blewett missed his wife, children, family and friends. He knew he would not receive mail from Nancy until the Dreadnaughts reached Little Rock. He sorrowfully asked "…what do you think of my condition when…I have let everything that is near and dear to me?" He reminded her to be sure to pray for him "at all times" as he didn't pray as much as he should because "…camps are a bad place for devotions." The Captain also warned Nancy that he would not be able to write often as there was a scarcity of paper. At the end of the letter he asked her to make and send him one coat and one pair of pants "…of light grey or dove color." (It should be noted in regards to the Captain mentioning the scarcity of paper that the second half of his letter was written perpendicular across the first half.)
In Lt. John Stark's Sept. 2, 1862 letter to his wife, Martha, he tells her that the regiment still hasn't arrived at The Rock (as the Arkansans call it). He tells her she can trace their course on a map from Crocket to Tyler to Gilmer, Linden and on to the "…Sulfur Fork of the Red River." The company then marched to Walnut Hill which will "…never be forgotten on account of losing so many of our men there." From there they went to Camden on the Ouachita River then to Princeton and Tulip. Lt. Stark writes "…we have marched 11 days in succession and it will take at least two more to reach Little Rock." He also tell Martha that should they be "remounted" once they arrive in Little Rock, General Holmes will likely give the Dreadnaughts 60 days furlough so the men can return home, ride their horses back as well as bring their winter clothing.
Credit to Pam Wright