Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by researcher and author Kathryn Lerch, who generously donated a large collection of material on the 8th New York Heavy Artillery for use at The Siege of Petersburg Online.
From the 8th N.Y. Artillery1
June 22, 1864.
Friend Waite:—On the morning of the 17th, I wrote you a very brief notice of our charge on the enemy of the 16th June, but was unable to give the number of casualties at that time. Our total loss on that occasion was 174, killed, wounded and missing.
We captured all the rifle-pits for over half a mile, and at last found ourselves in front of a very strong rebel work in the woods with a good abattis of sharp pine sticks along the whole front. We advanced to within fifty yards of this strong work, and threw up a line of breastworks with our cups, plates, bayonets, and hands, and held this work all day, the 17th, although it was 400 yards in advance of any other works, as our pickets on our right were that distance in our rear.
On the morning of the 18th, the rebels crowded their works in our front, and when the General commanding our Division rode up, and found how far we had advanced, he remarked that he supposed those were the works occupied by the enemy instead of us, and was astonished to learn we had advanced so far.—
Major Blake was wounded, and has since died.
On the morning of the 18th, about 5 o’clock, we supported another charge against a strong line of works where our forces had been repulsed once before that day. Two regiments were in our front, and when we arrived neat the works, the enemy opened with shell, canister and musketry, and the regiment in front of us broke and came rushing through our ranks, pell mell, when Lieut. Col. Bates ordered our men to fix bayonets and not allow another man to pass. This soon checked them, and they reformed again. In this midst of this tempest of bullets, which fell like hail, and while men were falling all around us, Lieut. Col. Bates put our regiment through the ‘Manual of Arms’. Our men went through the exercise as coolly as though they were on dress-parade. This astonished the veterans who said they never before saw a regiment have dress-parade during charge! But it was a good thing for our men, and kept them cool and collected.— Our regiment received due credit for its good conduct on this occasion, and was applauded by all who witnessed our parade under a tremendous fire. In this affair we lost 1 killed and 17 wounded. [lists those wounded May 19—June 19, 1864].
It will be seen by the above list of casualties that our regiment has seen hard work; yet we are all in good spirits, and expect to see more of the same sort, but hope our brave boys may not meet the same fate of the comrades who have fallen.
Our regiment is now posted nearly directly South of Petersburg, between two railroads.—At this moment, while I write, the rebels are shelling us quite freely. . . .2
- Newspaper article from (Batavia, New York) Republican Advocate – following arrival at Petersburg / Bermuda Hundred region, June 1864. From “Jack” (Adjutant, 8th NYHA, Lieut. J. R. Cooper) in the 8th New York Heavy Artillery writes to Friend Waite. (published July 5, 1864). Microfilm at Genesee County History Department, Batavia, New York ↩
- “From the 8th N.Y. Artillery,” Batavia (NY) Republican Advocate, July 5, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩