Editor’s Note: This article was found by Brett Schulte at the free newspaper site Historical Newspapers of the Rochester, New York Region and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
ON THE JAMES RIVER.
HEADQ’RS 1ST BRIG., 4TH DIV., 5TH A. C.,
NEAR CHARLES CITY C. H., VA.,
June 15th, 1864.
EDITOR REPUBLIC:—DEAR SIR: We are lying in camp on the north side of the James, waiting until our turn comes to cross this wide stream on a transport. Then we shall operate on the same side of the river with Gen. Butler. The manner of our operations you will have learned by the time you receive this.
Resting several days near Bottom’s Bridge, on Sunday night last [SOPO Ed.: June 12] we moved slowly toward the Long Bridge, lower down the Chickahominy, which we crossed on pontoon Monday morning [SOPO Ed.: June 13], after a tiresome march all night, then passing a mile further, halted several hours.—Here the boys made coffee, and found cherries and mulberries along the road. The country looked extremely fine, houses old, and fields of grain and corn looked promising. Fences standing untouched indicated that no force had halted long on the road. It was reported that the picket force left behind, on bringing up the rear on Monday morning, skirmished with (illegible) rebels who followed them, and leaving a squad of flankers in our rear, the pickets captured the pursuing rebels, without loss to us. In the afternoon troops passed on, and part of this Division came to this point about 11 P. M., halting in a clover field. The remainder came on yesterday morning [SOPO Ed.: June 14], and part of the 2d Corps crossed the river yesterday. At this point, Wilcox Landing, the James is said to be about 4 miles wide; at other places it is much more narrow. Transports are numerous. At present we lie one mile from the river, on the plantation of John J. Clark, a bitter rebel, who fled to Richmond on our approach, leaving a wife and five daughters, with numerous slaves. A guard is about the well shaded grounds, the front part being occupied as headquarters of General Butler and the 2d Brigade. Yesterday morning a guard of the 2d Corps shot at one of our men in a cherry tree, wounding him severely in the leg. Cherries suffered much, also green apples in the orchard, which contained rows of flourishing peach and apple trees intermixed. A hollow tree containing a swarm of bees was suddenly relieved of the honey it contained. A young son of Mr. Clark, a rebel soldier, is wounded and in Richmond. The few colored people left here hardly know whether it is best to go North or stay, though they wish to be free, but prefer to remain if they can receive pay for their labor. These appear to be more sensible and intelligent slaves than I have before seen.—Their stories of real slave life correspond with the usual plantation experience of slave-driving cruelty. This very ground has been the scene of many of those barbarous transactions so well described in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
LATER—23d—Last evening Sergt Ira Poole, 6th N. Y. S S. [SOPO Ed.: 6th Company of the 1st NYSS? More research is needed.], was shot while in the act of going into the breastworks in front, and died almost instantly. He was from (illegible) Bridges, (illegible).
After heavy skirmish firing all night, there is nothing unusually exciting this morning.—Gen. Burnside is reported to have been wounded yesterday.
Yours, &c, J. T. F.1
- “From the James River.” Brockport (NY) Republic. June 30, 1864, p. 2 col. 4 ↩