There are many accounts of the Civil War written by historians but there aren't many accounts written by the men who actually fought in that war. I found one such account, written in retrospect by Lt. Spencer B. Talley, who served in the Confederate Infantry from the war's beginning to its end.
His home was thirty to forty miles west of John Dickens Jr.'s home. He joined the Confederate army within days of John's enlistment, they trained at the same camp under the same officers, endured the same hardships, fought the same battle of Fishing Creek, and both were in the subsequent retreat to Murfreesboro. That's where the similarity ends. John Dickens was reported to have died at Murfreesboro on February 24, 1862 and Lt. Talley continued to serve the Confederate cause until the war's end in 1865.
If you have the slightest interest in a Confederate soldier's life during that war, please read all of Lt. Talley's account. When I located it, I was in a hurry - but I couldn't stop reading until I had read every page. A link is provided below.
Since Lt. Talley and John Dickens shared the same experiences in the first six months of the war, I have added some excerpts from Lt. Talley's account of those days. You will find the excerpts below the map.
1. John Dickens' home. 2. Camps Zollicoffer and Myers.
3. Battle of Fishing Creek. 4. John Dickens' death reported.
"I and my brother Robert J. began making our preparations to enter the southern
Johnathan Eatherly was raising a Company at Mt. Juliet. These squads soon
I think it was about the middle of September, 1861 when our company left
We had no one in camp capable to give the right and proper training for the
We spent only about two hours in the forenoon and two in the afternoon
The south had no arms or munitions of war and but little chance of obtaining
Before long we got our old flintlock muskets, used last in the Battle of New
We were called a late hour of the night to rush up to camp"Myers" a distance
General Zollicoffer, in the mix-up owing to the smoke and fog, dashed into the
This was our first scrap with the Yanks and I am sure we had a few days of as
Now we privates had no idea that the retreat would be continued. We thought
We rested for a day or so at and around Gainesboro and then began our march for a concentration of our armies. ...
On our retreat from Fishing Creek we camped a while at Murfreesboro leaving there sometime in February on our journey to Corinth, Mississippi."
(End excerpts from "The Diary of Lt. Spencer B. Talley.")
Note: Pvt. John Dickens did not make the journey to Mississippi. He was reported dead at 48 years of age on February 24, 1862 when his unit was still at Murfreesboro.
The Excerpts below are only bits from the first six months of Lt. Talley's service.
Click the link above to read many of his experiences throughout the war.