Saturday, June 8, 2013

June 6, 1863

June 6, 1863

---Siege of Vicksburg, Day 15

---Siege of Port Hudson, Day 10

---Battle of Franklin’s Crossing, near Fredericksburg, Virginia – Union engineers lay down another bridge across the Rappahannock River for an attack against the Confederate defenses there.  Gen. Hooker orders this reconnaissance in force, since indicators are that Lee is on the move, and sporadic reports have the Confederates moving west and north, toward the Shenandoah Valley.  A sergeant in the 50th New York Engineers writes in a letter home about the rather savage fight there:

The news had come in camp that the Rebs. had left the city, but when we got there we found lots of them. We started with our boats, and as we commenced to unload them, the Rebs. opened fire on us. Our men fired all their cannon at once. They were loaded with grape and cannister, – the shot went in among them like hail, still they kept marching on toward their rifle pits, where they could get out of sight. When they got there, they sent the shot into us. We had eighteen men wounded in our regiment. I don’t think there were any killed, but I am not sure, as there are some missing.

It is hard to see the men fall by your side, when you can’t fire back. Well, they kept up their fire for about two hours. By that time, we had all our boats in the river and commenced crossing. We had landed about one thousand men on the opposite side, and directly they made a charge up the hill, when the Rebs. surrendered and came to them, and we brought them across in the boats. Some of them escaped, but our men were close on their heels. I went across in one of the first boats, and I got on the hill in time to see the Rebs. taken prisoners. I saw a wounded man and went to him; it was a Rebel officer. He was shot just below the heart. He asked me for a drink of water, and I gave it to him. . . . Then he raised his head and got hold of my hand, and said, “Sergeant, I am dying.” He shook my hand and fell over dead. That was the hardest thing I ever saw, – he never spoke a word to any one but me, – I couldn’t help thinking of it, and could not sleep last night. . . . There was a letter in the Rebel officer’s pocket with his name on it. He was a married man and has a little girl; his folks expected him home in a few days, but they will never see him again. I suppose they will feel bad when they hear of it. He was a fine looking fellow. On the field there were some with their arms, some with their legs, shot off, and others shot in every imaginable way.

Your affectionate husband


Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker and staff

---In coastal South Carolina, the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment has arrived, and Col. Shaw writes home to his mother:

This is an odd sort of place. All the original inhabitants are gone — and the houses are occupied by Northerners & a few Florida refugees. The Northern ladies here are a fearful crowd — ungrammatical and nasal.  I had a taste of them the first evening we arrived, having unawares booked into a house where 8 or 10 teachers live.  Ned Hooper extracted me by taking me to tea to his house, and I have not ventured in town, on foot, since.

 Col. Higginson came over to see us, day before yesterday.  I never saw any one who put his whole soul into his work as he does.  I was very much impressed with his open-heartedness & purity of character.  He is encamped about 10 miles from here.

 The bush-whacker Montgomery is a strange compound.  He allows no swearing or drinking in his regiment & is anti tobacco—But he burns & destroys wherever he goes with great gusto, & looks as if he had quite a taste for hanging people &c throat-cutting whenever a suitable subject offers.

All our stores are very acceptable now, and the Hungarian wine Father sent us is excellent. Genl Hunter doesn’t impress me as being a great man. There is some talk of his being relieved. If we could have Fremont in his place, wouldn’t it be fine? . . .

 It is impossible to keep clean here for two hours — the fine sand covers everything. Every one here has received us very kindly; though there are a great many opposers among the officers they show no signs of it to us.

 Love to the girls & yourself dearest Mother.

 Your loving son

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