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
Head Quarters 8th N.Y. Art.
Before Petersburg, Va., June 23, 1864
Friend Waite:— Knowing how anxious the friends of this Regiment at home are to learn of our casualties, I have prepared a list, which is nearly complete, from June 16th to June 23rd. Quite a large per cent. Of the wounded have since died, owing to the intense heat we are now suffering here, which not only operates badly upon the wounded, but men fall in the ranks every day and die from sheer exhaustion. We marched about five miles yesterday during the heat of the day, the dust flying so thick you could scarcely recognize the man next to you, and it is reported this morning that six of our men died from sun stroke. Thus we are rapidly dwindling away; out of the 1600 men we reported present six weeks ago, only 604 are reported for duty this morning. Of this number only 18 officers are left of the 65 that left Baltimore with us on the 15th of May. Several Companies have no officers at all.
Commissions for Col. W.W. Bates, Lt. Col. James M. Willett, and Major J. B. Baker were received here yesterday. Alas, Col. Bates commission came too late; he did not live to see it. His loss to the Regiment is most severely felt. He was beloved by every man in the Regiment. A braver soldier never died for his country. He was too brave. No matter how great the danger he was always foremost, and his commands were always, ‘come on boys, follow me,’ and not ‘go on.’
The 2d Corps has been reorganized. The 2d Brigade was disbanded, and the 4th changed to the 2d.2