Fredericksburgh Va. Dec 14, 1862—Sunday A.M.
Dear Mother, We had a great fight here yesterday &
I am safe. It was an awful fight – we gained nothing
here. Our men marched up to the rebel batteries and
were slaughtered like sheep, but they could not move
the enemy, nothing could stand the fire we had
to endure, I will now begin at the beginning, we
left our camp, we had worked so hard to fix up,
left Thursday morning early. The cannonading
commenced as soon as it was light, we marched down
to the river expecting to cross then but did not, camped
that night close by. Gen. Howard crossed that night.
The next morning, we crossed, & staid all day & that
night in the city. On the landing, yesterday, [--?] [--?]
we formed & started for the field. The reb shelled
us all the way up thru the city, their batteries, raking
the streets, just out of the city we crossed this canal
& formed on line under a little rise. Then came
the order forward. The Irish Brigade went in ahead
of us, after us climbing this little rise we came upon
a broad plain at least 2,000 yds across it at the
further sides is a high ridge covered with trees & bushes,
here the rebs had their batteries and rifle pits,
there they powered an awful fire of shell grape and
canisters & musketry. We had to advance across
this plain in the face of all this. It opened on us the
moment we showed our heads on the plain.
Our men dropped fast large gaps were made by shells.
Still we kept on – "Forward boys, forward", the
Col. kept shouting. When we got within 100 yds their
musketry opened on us from the rifle pits. Then our
line melted away like snow, at this place &
right in the way of us was a brick house our line[?]
had to break to the right to [--?] it behind it was
several fences, we had to climb over these to form
on line. This got the boys into confusion. They
could not form under such a fire. The colors fell back to
the house & behind the fences. All the men fell back,
then the colors fell - Frank Swift, an Irish man of
our Co. caught the state banner, jumped over the fence
& marched out about 30 yds to the front waving it,
he was all alone. I saw him and followed. I got to his
side and told him to stick to the flag and I would stick by him.
In a few moments he was shot down. I picked up the banner.
Two men came up beside me. Perhaps 50 men came up
The other color did not neith did the regt- I had not
held the flag more than half a minute, before
I was hit in the shoulder by a piece of shell &
knocked down. One of the two men was shot down
the other picked up the Banner & ran back
to the house and fences. Most of our - what there was left
had got behind the house and fences. I lay about yds 30
yds in front of them & about 30 yds from the rebel
rifle pits. I was between two fires. It was horrible.
The bullets flew over me like swarms of bees.
They were continually striking all around me.
Two bullets hit me one in the back & one in
the leg they probably were spent balls & only
bruised the skin, and then the shells which our
batteries threw over burst over me and pieces from
them kept falling all about me, I felt that any
moment might be my last. I lay there over an
hour, I did not dare to get up to go back.
Often our boys stopped firing & the rebs slacked
theirs I crawled back to the house. There were more
than 200 hundred men mostly wounded that had crawled behind
it - I lay down in the mud with the rest. Soon
we saw another line come up, on the plain.
The reb batteries opened on them, when they
got most up to us the rebs opened with musketry
from their pits, they came up to the house,
wavered tried to rally & fell back in confusion.
Then came another line – it came up the
same faltered at the house & fell back - then
another line & the same with that.
Towards night a battery came up, took a position close
to the house with a line of infantry to support it.
They held the position perhaps half an hour, & then
had to retreat, this was our last attempt.
As soon as it was a little dark I got up & started
for the city. I was afraid the rebs would come
out & take us. I had expected every time one
of our lines was driven back that they would
charge down and take us. I came back
across the plain, it was covered with killed and
wounded - hundreds of lives lost & thousands
wounded and maimed for life & nothing gained.
I found our regt hospital I expected I was
wounded in the back but found that the skin
was not broken my shoulder, back & leg are
much swelled today & are very sore & lame
but I shall be all right in a day or two.
Col. Cross is very badly wounded Maj Stertevant [---?]
expect he is dead. Two Capts killed, four
wounded & about all the Lts. either killed or
wounded. This morning out of our whole regt
some 280 men, there were only 35 thrity-five
to stack arms. Our company had but 4 – Capt
Cross was not in the fight. He has an abcess
wound on the arm. Lt. Bullow our 1st Lt. was killed.
Our 2nd Lt. is acting Quartermaster and was not
in the fight. I have had two boils on my leg,
and one on my knee, I have been excused from
duty by the Surgeon everyday for a week & need not
have gone into the fight, need not come with the
regt from camp at all but I was bound[?] to go
with the regt & the boys and share the charge with them.
I am staying at the Hospital today helping
to take care of the wounded. I am very sore
& stiff. We have taken the dwelling houses
for hospitals, the citizens all left here some
time ago. They left everything behind them.
Our hospital is a large brick mansion,
splendidly furnished. I am writing this in the
parlor. The carpet, sofas stuffed chairs - ottomans,
mirrors, marble topped table beat everything
I ever saw – beautiful paintings are hanging
on the walls - everything looks as though they left
in a great hurry. It is a great blessing to the
wounded to have such nice hospitality all
ready at home. This paper I found here. It is
the best I could get – in the closet are
packed the most beautiful & costly sets of
china & glassware. I wish I could send you
home a set – Beautiful vases too, every-
thing, I cannot begin to tell you all. It must
have been the home of one of the [----?].
Day before yesterday, the soldiers went all thru
the city & broke into most every house & took
what they wanted & destroyed much.
I did nothing of the kind. I never feel like it.
I dont care if the people are Rebels.
There has been no fighting today yet; only a little
skirmishing- I don’t know what we are doing or
what we should do. The papers will tell you
all better than I. Things look very dark to me
now. I feel very anxious to hear from the
11th regt – our Chaplain could not go to N.H. so
could have not sent my money yet.
I don’t know when I shall a chance to
send this. After you rec it send it to Julia.
I have not time to write to her now.
Post Sergeant is here giving[?] the wounded[?]
Give my love to all. [----?]
Old Camp Tuesday P.M. December 16th.
I left Fredericksburgh city yesterday P.M. with
our wounded and they were all moved to this side this
morning the whole army came across and the Pontoon
Brigades were taken up. The troops are now all
back to their old quarters.
The wounded have been put on leave for
the RR. They will be sent off as fast as possible.
I saw [----?] [---?] this morning. He was not in
the fight. Cyrus Poor[?] was killed. George Shlepand
I think is safe. This all I know [---?]. The 12th was not
in. I saw [---?] Norris this morning. Our regt has about 50 men
fit for duty – I don’t know the exact no. killed
& wounded. The regt has been put into 2 Cos.
We have three Capts left, one acts as Col., the other
two command the Co. Comp x has 9 men left.
I am well – but quite lame & sore yet.
I suppose the papers will be full of the great failure.
They will tell you all better than I.
Don’t make this letter public.
Send it to Julia.
I will write again soon.
G. S. Gove
Have just received a letter from Julia