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NP: August 27, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA Shelling and Explosions at Petersburg

Editor’s Note: This article was provided by John Hennessy and transcribed by Jackie Martin.



Near Petersburg, Va.,
Aug. 16th, 1864.

MR. EDITOR;—Since I last wrote a sad disaster happened at City Point [on August 9, 1864], caused from the careless handling of ammunition. There were a great many lives lost by the explosion, besides the property that was destroyed.  But I suppose ere this you have seen the full particulars, which are of a more correct nature than I could give if I should attempt it, being ten miles from the place.  There is but a small chance for a soldier to learn much about such matters.

From the date of my last there has nothing happened in our regiment worthy of note, only that we have received our regular daily allowance of shelling from the Johnnies.  On the morning of the 11th [of August 1864], while they were shelling a working party which were at work in front of us, several of the shells burst directly on our works, one of which burst and distributed its broken fragments among the tents of Co. H; one of the pieces striking William Stannard (a Gloucester boy) inflicted quite a severe wound in the hip.  The boys think it rather hard on them, while we have so much artillery, why it is not used a little more to stop the Johnnies from sending their peace disturbers so often among us.  But no doubt there is some great reason why it is kept silent.

Last Saturday [August 13, 1864] there was a soldier shot while trying to desert through our lines into the Johnnies.  It was reported that he was intoxicated, and was going over for the purpose of treating some of the Rebs to a little of the same that he had been using, but our picket could not see the point, after telling him to stop three times, and so he up and fired at him, the bullet taking effect and dropping him about half way between both picket lines.  There is but little chance for his recovery.  Shooting is what puts an end to such as him if they are caught in the act as he was.  The unlucky lad belonged to the 6th N[ew]. Y[ork]. Weightys, or better known as heavys; there have been several of the same regiment stepped over into the Johnnie’s lines who were a little more successful than he was.  I don’t know but what it is a waste of paper to write about the likes of him and all other deserters.

On the same day our regiment [the 32nd Massachusetts] was inspected by the brigade inspector.  It had been some time since we were inspected before.

There were some of the boys returned again to the regiment, and among them were two for our company, Joseph Sewall and Alexander Grant.  Sewall is looking tip top, and all seemed to be well pleased to see him among us once more.  He has been on a detail for the past year, after recruits and conscripts, and I think caught the enlisting fever himself, as he has returned to the company as a Vet.

Sunday [August 14, 1864] was what might be called a very warm day.  In the evening we were blessed with a refreshing shower of rain, in the middle of which we received orders to draw one day’s rations and be ready to move at a moment’s notice.  Early next morning [August 15, 1864] our regiment was relieved by the 9th corps and returned to our old camp, and here we still remain under the same orders.

We received the report yesterday that the 2nd corps had engaged the enemy, capturing from him 6 guns and 2 mortars, and still holding their ground.  It is supposed that it was on account of that we were relieved from our old front.

Having used up all of my little stock of writing material, and as the mail is about to go, I will close, hoping that I will be able to give you a more interesting letter next time.

I remain yours respectfully,                         SIEGE.1


Other Massachusetts’ Soldier Letters in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph

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  1. “Letter From Co. D, 32d Mass.” Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph. August 27, 1864, p. 1 col. 4
{ 1 comment… add one }
  • gary schoen November 22, 2016, 2:14 pm

    I also read the explosion may have been sabotage. Any thoughts?

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