Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 16, 1864

May 16, 1864

---Bermuda Hundred Campaign:  Battle of Drewry’s Bluff:  Beauregard sends Gen. Whiting and his command in a flank march to take Butler’s army in the rear, while Gen. Ransom and his division press the Federal right flank, under Gen. “Baldy” Smith.  Ransom’s attack is beaten off, and he waits for Whiting to get in position to trap the Yankees between them.  Gen. Butler has, meanwhile, ordered Gen. Gillmore to attack the Rebel line, but Gillmore stalls and dawdles, and finally launches his attack just as Butler has decided to withdraw Smith’s troops on Gillmore’s flank.  Whiting, in the meantime, turns north at Port Walthall, but encounters a Union brigade under Adelbert Ames, who holds his ground.  Convinced that the Confederates in the rear would annihilate them, Butler orders both of his corps to abandon the field, march back south to their defenses, and get safe behind them.  Confederate Victory.

---Battle of Spotsylvania, Day 9:  Gen. Lee realizes that Grant intends to attack his right, and so begins to shift part of Anderson’s First Corps in that direction.  Sporadic skirmishing continues, as both armies suffer in the mud.

---Union soldier John W. Derr writes home to his family during a brief respite in the ongoing Battle of Spotsylvania:

Spotsylvania Court House, Va.

May 16th, 1864

My Dear Father and Mother,

             I take this present opportunity to inform this few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present time and I hope this few lines will find you in the same state of good health.  You must excuse me for not writing to you any sooner because we was busy this two last weeks after the rebels.  We had two pretty hard fights since.  We are out and are now laying on the battle field for the six last days firing at the rebels and are fighting with them every day.  But all the boys from around there are safe yet as much as I know.  But John Boyer got wounded today but it ain’t very bad.  It is only a flesh wound through the left leg above the knee.  And John D. Weikel is missing.  Nobody knows anything about him and I don’t know where he is or where he got to.  He got away from us in the morning that we went into the battle.  He was along when we advanced in line of battle.  Thank God that I am safe yet and I hope that I always may get through safe.  We have some hard nuts to bite.  But I hope we will be successful in taking Richmond for we are bound to have it or else all die.  This is the cry all through the Army.  I also seen some of the 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  I seen Daniel Derr and Elias Derr and Isaac Yarnall and Emanuel Bolich and they are all well and look hearty.  So I must close this few lines for it is getting dark and I have no more to write for this time.  This few lines from your beloved son.
                                                                                                John W. Derr

---Oliver Willcox Norton, an officer in a black regiment, writes home to his sister.  One historical point of interest:

This mail brings us the good news that colored soldiers are at last to get their dues in the matter of pay. The paymaster was here a week ago and offered the heroes of Olustee $7 a month. Most of them would not take it. Only those very much in need of money did so.

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