In the trenches on Gaines Farm, Va
Friday June 10th 1864
You have doubtless heard all
this that the old 5th is at the front once more.
We left Ft. Lookout two weeks ago today coming
by steamer to Port Royal on the Rappahannock
thence by a 4 days march to the army guarding
a wagon train. We joined the Corps a week
ago last Wednesday night. It was thin
on the extreme right. that same night we
started at 10 o’clock & marched till 9
the next morning reaching this place which
is near the centre I should judge. All this
way from Port Royal it was very hot and
dusty and it being our first march for
a long time told pretty severely on us.
In the P.M. of the day we get here we moved
out and forward line and were to
charge the enemys works at 5 o'clock
but a heavy shower came up at 4 and
the charge had to be postponed. This was
unfortunate for us as the rebels were
heavily reinforced that night. The
next morning early—[---] 3rd—we
formed our line of battle under the
crest of a hill—our whole brigade
being in the front line—within 1500
yards of the rebels works. We were ordered
not to fire a shot but use the bayonet.
At 4½ o’clock we moved forward, as soon
as we got to the top of the hill and within
sight of the rebel works we gave a loud
yell and dashed forward on the double
quick. The rebs opened on us with mus-
kets and canister but we kept
right along yelling like demons all
the time and dashed over their works
capturing their battery and a trench
full of prisoners. It was most gallantly
done. I never felt so well in my life as
when I jumped in over their entrenchment.
But here the good part all ended.
The 183rd PA Regt—notorious [----?]—
broke and ran the first thing and
did not go within 200 yds of the rebels.
This left our left flank all exposed
and the rebs came in on our left firing
into our rear, two line of battle also
came down on our front—we had no
2nd line to support us and so we had
to retreat leaving the battery in their
hands again. As soon as we
commenced falling back the rebs came
back into works and poured into us
with musketry and artillery till we
got back much [---?] [---?] of the hill again.
We went into this fight with about 460
men and lost, killed, wounded & missing
225. Co "K" lost 20 out of 46. Lt Dame
is missing. I think was wounded inside
of the rebel works and taken prisoner.
Many of our wounded had to be left
on the field. The next night we moved
up into an old road which is cut along
the ridge from 2 to 6 ft deep, forming a bit of
natural entrenchment. We are within
400 yads of the enemys works but they are
on higher ground than we are. Our pickets
and theirs are more than 40 yds apart.
The rebs have plenty of sharpshooters and
they keep up a constant firing on us.
We lose several men every day. We have
to lay low in the day time. I had a book
knocked out of my hand by one of them
the other day. There has been no fighting
of consequence since the charge.
We have two batteries directly behind
us on the bank and the rebs have two
in front of us. They are each other
frequently both firing over our levels.
This makes plenty of music for us. We
have to lay on our arms constantly. I have
not even had my shoes off for 5 days and
nights. Night before last the rebs sent
in a flag of truce. It lasted from 5 P.M.
till 8 for the purpose of picking up our
wounded a burying their dead, which
had begun to smell very bad. The rebs
showed themselves then and their
works surrounded with men, all firing
ceased and it seemed like peace, one of my
corporals was found wounded and brought
in, he laid there 4 days and nights. He
was close to the rebel picket line. He has had
a leg cut off. He says a rebel came to him the
first night and hearing that he belonged
to the 5th N.H., said he would do all he could for
him and brought him a water every
night. The reb said he had friends at Pt Look-
out that had written to him about this regt
and that our boys would always be treated
kindly. The prisoners at Pt Lookout liked
us very much and use to write home to
their friends about us. This will be a good thing
for any of us that are ever taken prisoners.
I saw Capt Butler Wednesday. His
18th A.C. is now with us. He will remain
with us as chief of Ambulances. it is
one of the best positions in the army.
I heard from Capt Tillin & Geo Shepard
yesterday. Capt T is all right—Geo Shepard
was slightly wounded but would
not go to Hos.
Gilmore Johnson got through safe and is well.
It is said that no more charges will
be made on fortified positions.
It is not of much use generally.
We are now where Gen [---?] fought
in the summer of 1862. It is said to
be only 10 miles from Richmond
but it will be a very hard 10 miles
to go over. The rebs have a very strong
We are in our old place viz
1st Brig, 1st Div. 2nd Army Corps.
The 1st Brig is commanded by
Col. Miles. The 1st Div by Gen Barlow
and the 2nd Corps by Gen Hancock
the best fighting Gen in the
service. Col Hapgood is in command
of the regt. I am in command of Company "K"
—Capt. Tillin has just been
here and spent an hour. He is well
and in good spirits. He says Geo Shepard
is Capt now. He was lightly wounded
in the hip but will be fit for duty in a
few days. The 11th
Regt is 2 miles from
us. My health is excellent.
We are bound to go into Richmond
this time tho it will take a long time
to do it. Don’t be impatient, we have
got to go slow.
I wrote to Mother yesterday. I suppose she
is in a constant worry. For her sake I should
have been contented to stay at Pt. Lookout
but on my own account I’d rather be here.
Write to me soon.
I got a letter from you yesterday. It
was brought from Pt. Lookout by
one of our men.
Direct now to – Co "K" 5th N.H.
1st Brig. 1st Div. 2nd A.C.
Washington – D.C.
Give my love to all