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LT: June 17, 1864 Elias S. Peck

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.

Bermuda Hundred
Va June 17th 1864

Dear Brother

I received a letter this morning from Lib dated June 11th. The mail has been stopt for a couple of days on account of a poontoon bridge being put across the river below hear for Grants troops to cross.1 We went on picket night before last and all night we could hear the rebels moveing about. At day light yesterday morning the pickets wher advanced we went to the rebel rifle pits and found that the

rebels had left and then we pushed on to their brest works and only found a few men left there as rear guard we took 25 or 26 of them prisoners including a Cap’t. Just beyond their brest works we had some skirmishing with them. The rebels brest works wher very strong they wher over 15 feet thick and stretch from river to river & then they had rifle pits behind them and they had places fixed for artillery.2 We

picked up rebel news papers. I did not get any whole ones but I picked up some pieces which I will send you. They only print a half sheet. There is a new house close by the rebel brest works on the bank of the river it is completely riddle with our shell. from its cupola  the steples in Richmond can be seen & we have a look out on the left of our line that we can see all that is going on in Petersburg. The rebels speak about it in their papers and say they shelled it. We lay in the rebel brest works all day on picket Our forces went out and tore up the railroad again and then fell to our works again. I suppose the rebels took the troops from hear to reinforce Petersburg as Grant has gone around here. Benny Wright saw General Grant down hear by the dock the other day. Only part of his army is hear. He is flanking Richmond & cutting them off. After we fell back to our old rifle pits last night the rebels came down in front of their bres works when our men open a terrible volley on them. the turned around and went back helter to skelter. They must have lost a good many The fireing was pretty sharp for couple hours. We was relieved from picket and went to camp we had lain out 4 night running and part of our reg’t had to lay in the brest works last night The gun boats in the river hear kept up a fire on the rebels all night

and have been fireing all the morning, there goes a shell now.3 There was some very sharp infantry ireing

at day light this morning. Sinc writeing the above we have been laying out in the brest works all day

I suppose this letter will be to late for todays mail. There is talk around that we are agoing to make a charge tonight. The rebels have been shelling today. I saw one of the pickets brought in with an arm shot off just now. Enclosed you will find 50c for your fourth of July. We have fourth of July hear almost evry day. Paul want to know why his folks dont write to him. Mead I have wrote this for the rest to read. You must write me an answer I am well


Elias S Peck

Co I 10th Reg’t CV

50 c for Albert Peck

Forth of July4


Images of Letter Pages

Page 1

18640617 Elias Peck 10th CT Letter Page 1

Page 2

18640617 Elias Peck 10th CT Letter Page 2

Page 3

18640617 Elias Peck 10th CT Letter Page 3

Page 4

18640617 Elias Peck 10th CT Letter Page 4


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Elias is referring to Grant’s withdrawal from Lee’s front at Cold Harbor and his famous crossing of the James River to attack Petersburg. As Elias mentions, Grant’s troops were crossing on a massive pontoon bridge as well as via numerous steamers collected for the purpose of ferrying troops.  Butler’s troops on Bermuda Hundred stayed in place during this movement.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Peck’s 10th Connecticut and other regiments on Bermuda Hundred moved forward on June 16, 1864 because Confederate Major General P. G. T. Beauregard had pulled all but a skeleton force from in front of Ben Butler in order to defend Petersburg against Baldy Smith’s Eighteenth Corps.  Elias mentions moving forward and skirmishing with the enemy.  Later in this letter he mentions the fact that the Federals doing the probing were unceremoniously driven back on June 16 by arriving portions of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  This fighting is called the “Action on the Bermuda Hundred Front” in the Official Records.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: The U. S. S. Commodore Perry engaged Fort Clifton on the Appomattox River over June 16-17, 1864.  Fort Clifton was about four miles downstream from Petersburg.  The shells Elias Peck was hearing were almost certainly coming from that engagement.
  4.  Peck, Elias S. “Bermuda Hundred, VA.” Letter to “Dear Brother” 17 June 1864. MS. Bermuda Hundred, VA.
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