Allison-Antrim Museum

Camp near Fredk’sbg

Dec 18th 1862

 

Dear Brother

                      Yours of the 12th is at hand. I wrote a letter to mother in Fredericksburg on Sunday    it was just a scribble with a pencil     it was to let her know that I was safe then.    but I knew it was not all over for the shells were flying about pretty thick at the time.    we were sitting behind a stone wall at a grave yard in charles ,st,    yester day I wrote to Sula but was in such a hurry that I could not write particulars. We have failed to drive the enemy from their entrenchments and have retired acros to this side of the river. on thursday morning (Dec 11) we were ready to move    the bombardment commenced at daylight and we moved about the same time    we waited all day about a mile from the river    on friday morning we were moved out to our batteries on this side of the rappahannock but on Sat morning (Dec 13) the troops commenced crossing and soon we heard the musketry mingle with the artillery   it was most terrific.    we crossed about three ,oclock    when we were going down this side the reb,s threw shells at us but no one was hurt     we crossed on the pontoon bridge and as soon as we were in town the artillery commenced playing at us but could not do us much damage as we were under the cover of the houses   the town was all ransacked books chairs and every kind of furniture was lying in the streets.  we left our knapsacks in a store and moved out on the battlefield   we were moved out and drawn up in position in a meadow when a rebel officer on a white horse rode out in front of the fortifications and soon a cannon was

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brought to bear on us     the first shell killed three men in co A of our regt    we were ordered to lay down and then we lay close down in mud and water     the shells flew in among us and did terrible work    one threw the mud all over me.     that was the most horrid time    the shells hissed and shrieked    the noise was enough to scare men if they had done nothing else     I don’t mind anything half as much as them    but I am afraid of them. we were soon compelled to retire a hundred yards or more but were drawn up behind one of our batteries which was fiting [fighting] a rebel battery (across two fields) off.   we were drawn up and ordered to charge Bayonet on the ,reb, Bat. [battery]   the bugle sounded our div    Gen Humphries moved to the front and away we went at it cheering as we went. we had to tramp over a line of our men lying down and then passed our pickets     we passed over the dead and wounded. the enemy reserved their fire    then raised and poured into us a murderous volley which checked us     we could not advance under that murderous fire     we lay down a few minutes and fired and loaded a few rounds and then we had to fall back.   we broke and retreated double quick     we were formed rallied got into order and moved back into the town.  Col. Elder was dangerously wounded     when he led us out he said “now men of the 126th remember what you came out for”  “do your duty”  “Keep cool”    he is a hero and a patriot     capt Brownson led us on on as coolly and composedly as a man could     he is as brave a man as ever breathed.  Dav(e) Divel(biss) was a pioneer

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and when he was ordered to leave his axe (he) went to the capt and asked for one of the “sick mens” guns and went out on the field with us.  several distinguished gents got sick very suddenly. I won’t give the names   dal(las) mowen was shot through the breast and instantly killed.  sergt Brinkley was wounded in the side and arm he died soon after being taken off the field   Huston Work was dangerously wounded through the shoulder. Haze wounded in the leg – not dangerously – Brewer Cushwa has an ugly wound in the face     several received slight bruises from spent balls.  we went out again after having got our knapsacks and a little rest      we went into a house and built a fire and I found that there was a school room there     I got this paper I am writing on in that house.  we went out and held the position on the field until morning when we were relieved and went back into the town where we stayed Sunday and Monday till night      then we were moved out and were put on picket until morning     we lay within 75 yds of the enemies pickets.     at daybreak we were brought off at a double quick and found the city deserted      we were double quicked to the river and crossed at daylight       ours and the 91st were the last to cross       the pontoon boys commenced loosing the bridge and we knew that we had covered the retreat      we had been lying on the wet ground on our bellies and it had rained on us     we were most give out     we had double quicked about two miles through mud a foot deep some places

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but we got back safe to our old camp and saved our knapsacks and tents most of us at least    I brought back all I took over and picked up a gum blanket      the streets were full of knapsacks as we came through      Some of the boys got books and some other thing     Haze Boyd got Miltons complete works lying in the Streets.    there was abundance of flour fish pork and in short everything but salt.    the story of the South Starving is all a Hoax   they had things Just as plenty as we have at least in Fredricksburg    our soldiers helped themselves as well as they could      there were some people living in the cellars   Bruce and I went after water one night - it was not safe to go in daytime - when a lady came out of the house and asked us to get her some water    we filled her bucket and she said it would do till the next evening. I have Heard of the horrors of the battle field but the reality is terrible. in the action and excitement it is not realized but the thoughts and impressions seem to be burned on my brain the still pale faces of the dead and the shrieks and groans of the wounded and dying  oh! it is awfull      I think our loss must be very severe     I saw a great many dead men    we could hardly step without tramping on them. I cannot praise our capt too highly and the boys with but few exceptions did their duty nobly   I did not expect them to take that battery when we started but we tried    the Second Maine boys say we made the eleventh charge on it    we failed but we done our duty     it is said we lost nine commissioned killed and wounded in the regt and over one hundred men    I forgot to say that we heard of one of our missing boys  Fritz of the little cove he is in the hospital   has been run over and is badly injured    he makes co ,C,s’ loss two killed and four badly wounded   Capt Doebler of co A is wounded in the arm. but I am sick and tired of this subject and have done now.  Mother was anxious to know how we got along this cold weather   we have a right cozy chimney and fire place in our tent and have made ourselves pretty comfortable. and have not suffered any yet. aunt Sade sent me a sleeping cap   aunt Kate sent Jacob one.   I want you to write often my love to all friends your brother         S.W. North

tell pap that the other $27.00 are safe   has not left here yet   but it will be sent on Immediately tell him to write when he gets it

 

 

 

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