Editor’s Note: This article was provided by John Hennessy and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
LETTER FROM THE 23D MASS. REG’T.
In front of Petersburg, Va.,
Aug 17, 1864.
MR. EDITOR:–Having arrived in from the pits I will pen you a few lines and let you know that we are still alive, although our paymaster has not been around to inspect our corps, and find out if the men are in want of anything in the shape of greenbacks.
There is nothing new to write about at this time, so I think that you will find this letter rather stale, but I will do as other correspondents do, and try to make up one of the best material I have at hand.
A member of Co. D was killed yesterday, while out on the skirmish line. He was shot through the head, as most of those seem to be who are killed while skirmishing. This is owing, no doubt, to the fact of their raising their heads till they are above the breastworks, and keeping them up rather longer than is necessary, when the rebels get good sight at them and fire.
There is the usual picket firing and shelling, night and morning, but not near as much as there was.
I see by the Telegraph of the 13th, that “Siege” wants to get up an argument with me. Now, I am not much at arguing, and besides, I do not wish to go into the merits or demerits of any regiment, so he will please excuse me for not arguing the case. If I was able to do so as some others, perhaps I might gratify him so much as to do it.
He wishes to know if I am a VET. My answer is, I am. He says the marching here is different than in North Carolina, where we used to go by railroad and transports. I will tell him he is very much mistaken, as he would find if he had to march over the same ground. Then again he says that we had the rebels’ terror with us, that is, the gunboats. Now I wonder if he has travelled through the State of North Carolina, which I am inclined to think he has not. “Siege” is, without doubt, a sea going man, and I would like to see him pilot a gunboat up to Tarboro or to Goldsboro bridge, two places that we visited; or to Whitehall. I think that it would cost Uncle Sam something by the time he got through. I would like to ask him wherever we went on an expedition by railroad, with the exception of the time that we left Newbern to go to South Carolina?
I think that “Siege” is piling it on rather thick when he comes to say that I am not satisfied with doing my duty, but think that I have done more. Now I claim for our regiment just what they are entitled to, and no more. I do not think the 23d [Massachusetts] is a better regiment than any other, but I think it is just as good as any other, not excepting the 32d [Massachusetts].
“Siege” says also, that we have never been obliged to carry a “Joe Hooker knapsack,” with eight days rations. That is true, we never did. Again he says that in North Carolina, when we were on an expedition and expected to meet the enemy, we marched in line of battle with the general guides out. I wonder where he obtained his information. I never saw it done till we arrived in Virginia, and joined the Army of the Potomac; and then only once, when we went from White House landing to Coal [sic, Cold] Harbor. So you will see, “Siege,” that you are greatly mistaken.
Your correspondent says it is natural for every one to think their own is the best, and says that perhaps I think our little 23d is a trifle better than the 32d. Now, brother Vet, do not get jealous, for I do not think so. I think one is just as good as the other. He says he thinks he can tell what gave me the proof that the 32d have had hard fighting—that it was their thin ranks, and that tattered and torn battle flag. I did not see much of the flag, though I saw the staff. You were nearly right in your supposition; but it was not that only, it was by the reports we had of your bravery.
I do not think he would find so much pleasure in marching into the interior of North Carolina as he speaks of. It is true that sometimes we obtained sweet potatoes, but not so often as he thinks.
“Siege” says that if I will stop and think a little, I shall come to the conclusion that I am wholly wrong. I do not see it.
I have not written this in any unkind spirit, but in the most friendly feeling, for I have great respect for the 32d, and it is thought a great deal of by our regiment, more especially Co. D, for there are a large number of its members with whom I am well acquainted. In all probability, “Siege” will have a chance to see us soon, as our corps is to move to the left today, and I think that I shall call over to see him, and would like to have him call and see us. We will do the best we can to entertain him, and use him well. He will not find the boys of Co. C the worst fellows in the world.
But this letter is getting too long, so I must stop before I tire your patience, Mr. Editor, and that of the readers of the Telegraph. I will close by wishing good success to our arms, hoping that “Siege” will get out of this war right side up.
Other Massachusetts’ Soldier Letters in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph
- NP: July 9, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 59th MA at Second Petersburg, June 17, 1864
- NP: July 16, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 13th MA, Last Days at Petersburg
- NP: July 16, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA at Petersburg, Late June to Early July 1864
- NP: July 23, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA Fourth of July
- NP: July 30, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA, Mid-July 1864
- NP: July 30, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA, Mid-July 1864
- NP: August 6, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA And Shelling Along The Lines
- NP: August 13, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA and Confederate Countermines
- NP: August 13, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA Observes the Crater Battle
- NP: August 13, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 32nd MA Observes the Crater Battle
- NP: August 13, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 32nd MA, the Crater, and a Feud
- NP: August 20, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA and the City Point Explosion
- NP: August 27, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA Shelling and Explosions at Petersburg
- NP: September 3, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA at the Siege of Petersburg, Late August 1864
- NP: September 3, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 32nd MA at the Battle of Globe Tavern, August 18-21, 1864
- “Letter From The 23d Mass. Reg’t.” Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph. August 27, 1864, p. 1 col. 4-5 ↩