…Not a great way from Lancaster…I made by escape through an enlargement in the boxcar…and landed in a snow bank that buried me out of site. And that nite I “captured” a beautiful little mare and made my way…and rejoined my command near “Mine Run” in Virginia, and she was shot and killed on May 8th, 1864.
– Lamar Fontaine, 2nd Virginia cavalry
Excerpted from Cowan’s Auctions, Ms Letter by Lamar Fontaine, Chief of Scouts under Stonewall Jackson
Full item description:
author of All Quiet Along the Potomac, and Confederate States Medal of Honor winner. ALs, 3pp, Lyon, Mississippi, 1898, written on Fontaine and Sons Surveyors and Civil Engineers lettersheets, accompanied by a clipped newspaper copy of “All Quiet” with annotations in Fontaine’s hand, and signed at the bottom by the author.
In this post-war remembrance, Fontaine relates a story that took place when he was being transferred from the Federal Prison at Camp Chase, Ohio to Fort Delaware. The incident occurred in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and involved a Confederate prisoner known as “The Jack of Clubs” who scared the daylights out of an overly curious Pennsylvania boy who wondered what “Rebels looked like.” After describing this humorous incident, Fontaine goes on …Not a great way from Lancaster…I made by escape through an enlargement in the boxcar…and landed in a snow bank that buried me out of site. And that nite I “captured” a beautiful little mare and made my way…and rejoined my command near “Mine Run” in Virginia, and she was shot and killed on May 8th, 1864. In closing he notes that he is enclosing a mutilated copy of “All Quiet Along the Potomac” but the corrections are all right. A postscript apologizes for the tardy response, but relates his letter was stolen in a Post Office robbery and it was just returned to him.
Fontaine, a Texan by birth, enlisted into Confederate service as a 31-yr-old engineer, mustering into service as a private of the 15th Mississippi in May 1861, and then quickly transferred to Jackson’s 2nd Virginia cavalry where he served as a scout. He was twice wounded, captured and escaped. He was a Crimean War veteran, and a Texas Ranger and after the war, he served in the U.S. Navy. It was after the first Battle of Bull Run that Fontaine, serving picket duty with his best friend, penned “All Quiet on the Potomac.” In the still of the evening a sharpshooter’s rifle rang out, and killed John Moore, who dropped a newspaper with the headline “All Quiet on the Potomac.” Fontaine wrote the words to the song that would soon be sung around campfires on both sides of the lines. A fine, post-war reminiscence by one of the south’s most colorful characters.