Editor’s Note: George Gove of the 5th New Hampshire wrote a series of letters from the Siege of Petersburg in 1864 to his sister. These letters were placed online in 2012 as: “Parsons Family Papers, Milne Special collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire, N.H.” Gove’s descendant Doug Parsons worked diligently to make these letters available for The Siege of Petersburg Online and we thank him greatly for his effort. The transcriptions of the letters collected on this page are copyrighted by the Milne Special collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the University of New Hampshire. All rights reserved.
August 28, 18641
Sunday August 28/64
I have not written for some time & my excuse is that I have not had time. The 2nd Corps has been on the rampage for the past two weeks. In the first place we went to the extreme right of the line then back to the extreme left & as Grant’s line is a very long one it was no slight job.
Two weeks ago last Friday we struck camp & went to City Point. Saturday got aboard transport & went to Deep Bottom on the north side of the James, the same place we went to before. Had heavy skirmishing Sunday
& Monday. Tuesday our brigade & a Div of Cavalry made a reconnaissance towards Richmond. We went within 6 miles of Richmond, encountered a strong force of the enemy. Had a sharp little fight & came very near being taken prisoner the whole night.
Saturday night we came back by marching all night. Rested in an old camp a few hours Sunday—a week ago today. Then marched to the left where the 5th and 9th corps had cut the Weldon RR. Monday we commenced to turn up the RR. Tuesday night we got as far as Reams Station. The next day we destroyed the tracks to a point about 2 miles down & then returned to Reams Station again.
There was only the 1st & 2nd Divisions in the expedition, our 3rd Div being left in the breastworks in front of Petersburg. There were some old breastworks at Reams Station & there we occupied. Thursday A.M. was quiet but all felt nervous Gen Hancock was riding along the lines constantly & looked anxious. In the P.M. skirmishing commenced & then charges were made by the enemy & repulsed. About 5 o’clock a terrific charge was made prefaced by a violent shelling from their batteries which completely enfiladed our lines. The 2nd Div gave away which let a line of them in our flank & rear we had to retire in doublequick time leaving a battery in their possession our brigade reformed again and charged back retook two of the
pieces & the works we occupied holding them till after dark & we got two guns off by hand.
We then retreated back to Williams House, & yesterday we came back here, Gen Hancock wanted to come back from Reams Station Wednesday night & asked leave of Gen Meade to do so. But Gen Meade would not allow it had we done so we would not have left a man or a gun, Hancock knew what the situation was & Meade did not. I have a very poor opinion of Gen Meade.
Hancock felt very badly about he knew we would not be able to hold the position. He exposed himself to the thickest of the fight. He is always found where there is the most danger.
We are now camped a little to the left of our old place, don’t know how long we will stay. This Corps is spare hand[?] and has to do all the extra work, we have not been paid yet.
I have command of 4 Cos now. I have got about tired of doing the work of others. My health is very good. Gilman Johnson is all right.
[Editors Note: Along the top of the page, cont from the back]
I got a letter from Samuel with his & the boys photographs. They are very good ones. It is almost dark & I must close
- Parsons Family Papers, Milne Special collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire, N.H. The transcription of the letter on this page is copyrighted by the Milne Special collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the University of New Hampshire. All rights reserved. ↩