Editor’s Note: I would like to thank Chris Peck, the great grandson of Elias Peck, for granting me written permission to publish his ancestor’s letter. This letter is owned by Chris Peck and may not be reproduced without his written permission. All rights reserved. Chris is also the transcriber of this article. I added some comments and notes in brackets, but the rest of the transcription is due to Chris’ efforts. Elias Peck was a member of the 10th Connecticut, a regiment in the Tenth Corps, Army of the James which fought primarily on Bermuda Hundred and north of the James River during the Siege of Petersburg.
Va June 19th 1864
It is a short time that I get to write to once now days so I must write by candle light. I sent a letter to [Peck’s brother] Mead and some pieces of rebels papers in an envelope the 17th [of June 1864] did you get them. We lay in the
brest works that night. There was some heavy infantry & artillery along our lines just before dark. And some very heavy fireing down in Grants army in front of Petersburg. At daylight yesterday morning [June 18, 1864] we was sent from the brestworks out as reserve for the pickets in front of our brigade We lay in the old rebel rifle pits The 17th M[ain]e reg’t was on the out posts. There was fireing all along the lines between the pickets. Our out posts wher but a short distance from the rebel brestworks and they threw shell into them evry few moments But in the afternoon they opened a very sharp artillery fire on our pickets. The shell burst very thick around us. And you would have thought to have seen the trees falling that they cut off, that there was a reg’t of wood choppers a cutting them down There was plenty of trees cut off a foot in diameter. One of Co H men had his head half shot away with a shell After the shelling stopt the rebels made a charge on our pickets in the next brigade to the left of us They drove our men back at first and got in our rifle pits. But our men then charge on them and drove them out again takeing a stand of colors and 4 companys prisoners. The out posts of our brigade fell back in the riffle pit that our reg’t was in on reserve and as soon as the rebels showed themselves both reg’t of us rose up and give them a volley they left in a hurry and did not show themselves in front of our brigade again. After they left in front of our brigade our company was sent out to reinforce the pickets in the brigade to the left of us. As soon as we got there we commenced fireing. I fired sbout 30 rounds. We stayed there until the fireing most ceased and then we was relieved and went to camp it was dark when we got there. We had not
been there more than two hours when we was ordered to fall in again. I tell you what it is it’s tough we had been out evry night and day for over a week & we had just layed down to sleep. But out we turned and was put on the out post pickets. The rebels pickets kept up a fire all night We wher so sleepy that we did not care if it snowed. We was not relieved until tonight [June 19, 1864] and today being Sunday there was not much fireing. A rebel deserter came in today & said they in tended to have charged on our main works hear yesterday but they could not even drive in our pickets. He said they had a great many killed. General Grant inspected our works with Gen Butler today some of our co that was left back to camp saw him. Grant has got the hights near Petersburg and has got 150 pieces of artillery that he can shell the city with. He has cut off railroads there and can take the city when he likes. Lee’s forces has charged on him several times and has been repulsed with great slaughter. Grant has got in a position now where he
has cut off Lee’s supplies and he can let Lee attack him. I wrote in Meads letter the other day about our
fight with the rebels and our having their brest works. We kept Lee’s whole force in check there all day. It was his advance we was fighting and he was agoing down to Petersburg. It was a big thing for us with so few men to keep Lee’s whole force in check all day and so let Grant get possession of Petersburg hights. 1 Our reg’t has been very lucky for the fire we have been under not to loos any more men Luck seems to follow us sinc we left North Carolina. On Morris Island we was under as much fire as any other
reg’t on it and we did not have a man killed while some reg’ts had 100 or more We are about played out now for the want of sleep and rest but there but very few men sick in the reg’t. Charles Hughes one of the reenlisted men in our co that used to live to Isaac Peck CR is the only sick man in our co. He has lost a great deal of blood. He has got the hasty consumtion.2
Images of Letter Pages
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Peck is discussing the Skirmish on the Bermuda Hundred Front from June 17, 1864 here. On that day, elements of Butler’s Army of the Jmes fought with elements of the Army of Northern Virginia. Butler’s men had probed forward into vacated Confederate earthworks, and the Confederates had to throw them out again. ↩
- Peck, Elias S. “Bermuda Hundreds, VA.” Letter to “Dear Mother” 19 June 1864. MS. Bermuda Hundred, VA. ↩
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