Following the demise of this brigade at the beginning of August, the company was attached to the newly formed Phillips Legion and designated Company E. The Legion soon entrained north to Lynchburg, Virginia where they continued to train and outfit during August. In early September they were assigned to the army of General John B Floyd and headed into the mountains of western Virginia to join Floyd at Sewell Mountain. The mountain campaign that followed was brutal as the weather turned bad and the roads turned into muddy rivers. The Legion fought no battles during this period but was engaged in a number of skirmishes with a Federal Army under General Rosecrans at Cotton Hill in the vicinity of Gauley Bridge and Fayetteville during October. The weather continued to worsen and the Legion was losing an alarming number of men to a lethal variety of diseases.
In early November General Rosecrans began moving to isolate and capture Floyd's army. Learning of this, Floyd just managed to pull his army out of the trap and retreated southward towards Virginia on November 12th. Winter weather now closed in with a vengeance and an epidemic of typhoid struck hard. Men fell out of the ranks by the dozens and were housed at makeshift hospitals all along the retreat route.
Private John Dowdy was one of these unfortunates. A letter written home to John's father, Reverend Dowdy, by one of John's fellow soldiers, Private Jesse Duke, tells us what happened........
December 6th 1861
Red Sulphur Springs, Va
Mr John M Dowdey(sic)
Dear Sir and Brother,
It has fallen to my task to perform the painful duty (to me) of informing you of the death of your son, John H Dowdey(sic), of the Blue Ridge Rifles, the Company to which I belong. Some seven or eight days ago my self and your son with seven others of our company was brought here to the hospital. John had the consumption and pneumonia fever, and grew worse, the next day after we got here he appeared to be conscious of his death all the while, and said to me that he was willing to go, that he was going to Heaven. He got me to read a letter to him, that he had got from you some time ago in which you gave him some good spiritual advice; he suffered very much for four days, but died very easy, without even a struggle with the grim monstor.
John has been a good boy, and a good soldier ever since he entered the service, was always at his post when able, and never flinched when the enemy was firing their voleys(sic) into our pickets at Cotton Hill
The next day after we got here John told me that he was going to die and gave me in charge, forty dollars which he instructed me to divide equally with his two sisters and his brothers; and as it is unsafe to send it by mail, I will send it by the first responsible person that comes to Dahlonega; or as I am on the list of invalids, perhaps I will get a furlough and come home myself before a great while, but in the meantime I want you to write to me and give me the names of your two daughters and son. Direct to me in care of Capt Joe Hamilton, Phillips Legion, Geo Vol, Floyd's Brigade, Newbern, Virginia.
I deeply sympathize with you and your family in the loss of your son and confidently trust in the promise of Revelation that these lights of affliction work out for us, a far more exceeding weight of Eternal Glory, and that all things work together for good, to them that love and serve the Lord.
I admonish you Brother Dowdey(sic), to bear up with Christian Fortitude under this stroke of Providence for your loss is his eternal gain.
Hoping to hear from you very soon.
Yours & ????
Jesse R Duke
PS John Ray is here very sick, But not dangerously so yet. JRD
John H Dowdy died December 2nd 1861 another of the many early war casualties lost to disease.