Bolivar Heights, Harper’s Ferry Va.
Thursday Oct 2 1862
I have not written
to you for some time neither have I
rec. a letter from you for a long time.
I wrote to Mother days after
the battle of Antietam Creek giving
an account of it & told her to send the
letter to you. So I must not write much
about it now only that it was one
of the greatest battles ever fought on
this continent & as has always been
the case in Va. Not very decisive.
We drove the rebels at all points and
held the field of battle. Yet I think
they were suffered to get away and
across the river altogether to easy.
We were heavily reinforced the next
day & if the rebs had not skeedaddled
Thursday night we should have attack-
ed them Friday. Our boys went into
it with a will. I never felt better than
I did in the fight. I enjoyed it as I would some
game or sport. Our boys kept cheer-
ing & yelling all the time like so
many wild Indians indeed. I think
our yelling scared the rebs more than
our balls. We were in a large piece of
corn. we finally drove the rebs out
of it & up the hill behind their batter-
ies like a flock of frightened sheep.
Then how we cheered & shouted. I could
hardly keep in my skin. We would
have followed them only their batter-
ies could have swept us all the way
with grape & canister & our object was
only to hold our position. The battle of Fair
Oaks was very serious but there only infantry
were engaged. Here we were under a heavy
fire of artillery. Shot shell, grape & canister were
poured into us like rain & we gave
them the same in return. The roaring
of cannon the screaming & bursting of
shell, the continuous battle of musketry
& mingled with it all the shrieks of
the wounded made it a scene I shall
never forget. In a road where the rebs
had made a stand & fought the Irish
Brigade & where we afterwards stood
a while. The dead & wounded rebs lay so
thick it was difficult for us to find
room to stand. We took one color—the
4th N.C Vol—it was a large blue banner
very pretty. Our brigaded took six colors.
After driving the rebs we retired a short
distance to the side of the hill behind
our batteries where we lay that night
and all the next day & night.The rebs
would frequently throw over a lot of shells
& our skirmishes kept up a brisk
fire with the rebel sharpshooters.
It is the most worrying harassing work
in the world to lay in support of a battery.
We have to lay on our faces with the
shells screeching & bursting over us &
we can make no reply but lay and
take them not knowing where the next
shell may strike. I had rather go right
into fight than support a battery under
the enemys fire. Fortunately the rebels
are rather poor artillerists. Gen. Rich-
ardson was wounded in the early part
of the fight & Gen. Caldwell of our brigade
was in command of the Division for
a while & Col. Cross had command of this
brigade. I felt downhearted enough for
Caldwell is no General at all & we were
expecting to go into the fight again at any
moment. He was soon relieved however
by Gen. Hancock. He came along to our regt,
made some enquiries of Col. Cross then lit
a cigar & rode up to the top of the hill
in front of us where the shells & bullets
were flying fast – took out his glass &
examined the enemys position. Then
came back & told us what we were
to do & how& all so cool calm & quiet
that I was inspired with confience
at once. He still has command of our Div.
Col. Cross has put in charges against Gen.
Caldwell for his actions that day. A
court of enquiry has been in session
five days about it & it not yet through.
No one has any confidence in Caldwell
but it is pretty hard to make out a case
against a Brig.Gen. At the commence-
ment of the fight he took his post
behind a haystack & was ordered
to come forward & take command
of his brigade once by Gen Richardson
but soon retired behind the haystack
again at the foot of the hill where he
remained till the fight was over.
Each regt of the brigade had to act on
its own responsibility. Col. Cross sent out
to him once for reinforcements but he could not
I see that the New York & Phil papers don’t say
much about this regt but theirs get all
the praise. I hope NH papers will
do us justice. It is some satisfaction
though to know that we are pretty well
known & appreciated here among
the officers & regts of the army. If a
regt. is wanted for some tight place
or to take or hold some important
point - Col. Cross & the 5th N.H. is called
for & the Col. if he wants a Co for
some difficult job calls for Dick
– Capt Cross & CoK. But I reckon you’re
tired of this kind of talk. We left
our camp near the battlefield
Monday after the fight and came
down to Harpers Ferry a 12 mile
march. We have been here ever
since encamping on Bolivar
Heights just back of the villiage
& looking up the Shenandoah Valley
It is a very pretty place. The whole
of Sumner’s Corp is here. This Corp
is very much cut up & reduced
in numbers. We shall probably
stay here as long as is necessary
to guard Harpers Ferry. I reckon the
rebs could not take this place so
easy now as they did. Had this place
been held the rebs would not have
got out of Maryland quite so easy.
We are having a fine resting spell
which the men were very much
in need of. We drill two hours
a days just enough for exercise.
Also do picket duty in front of
the valley. Two of our Sergs were
wounded & our Orderly was taken
sick the day after we got here
so I have to act as Orderly. This
keeps me busy. I have to make
two reports every morning & hand
them in to the Adgt, make out all
the details, see to drawing rations
& having them cooked. Tend to the
policing the quarters & parade ground
etc etc. An Orderly’s berth is no sinecure.
Still it is rather agreeable to a young
chap to have a Co. of men ready at
all times to do his bidding. Capt Cross
& the Col. too gives the Orderlies almost
absolute power to command or punish.
A Capt. has but little to do with a Co.
except on drill or parade. The Orderly
is the executive officer or manager.
President Lincoln was here
to see us yesterday. We all
turned out under arms and
rec. him. I never saw him before
he is not so bad looking after all.
I wrote to Mother yesterday. I hope
I shall get a letter from you
soon. My health is very good.
Will Rye fill her quota without drafting?
Raymond I think has done well.
Give my love to all.
Truly Your Bro. Geo S. Gove