Editor’s Note: This article was provided by John Hennessy and transcribed by Jackie Martin.
OUR ARMY CORRESPONDENCE.
LETTERS from VIRGINIA.
CAMP NEAR PETERSBURG, VA.
June 18, 1864.
EDITOR SENTINEL—DEAR SIR:—We have again changed our base, and as a consequence, we have had many weary miles to march. The 9th Army Corps left the vicinity of Coal Harbor the night of the 12th and marched all night; reached Tunstall Station on the Richmond and Whitehouse R. R., early in the morning of the 13th,—rested about five hours and we were again on the road leading to the right and towards the Chickahominy, at a point about 10 miles from the James, where we crossed, on the morning of the 14th, over the pontoon bridge. We reached the James on the night of the 14th and the next morning crossed over. The bridge was composed of over 90 pontoons, and was at a point on the river about six miles below Harrison’s Landing, and nearly 20 from Petersburg. Early on the 16th inst. our corps was in the front before Petersburg, and in the evening charged the rebel line and captured a line of rifle pits.
The larger portion of the Potomac Army is now South of the James. The 18th and one other Army Corps took transports at White House and came by water and landed at City Point, and were therefore fresh on their arrival. They marched about eight miles when the colored troops connected with that corps, when about 2 miles of Petersburg, and marching along the road, were suddenly greeted with grape and canister, and musketry. They were soon formed in line of battle, and immediately charged the rebs—took their outer line of fortifications with some prisoners and several pieces of cannon. They did not stop at the first line, but passed on to the second about half a mile farther on there they met with stubborn resistance from two strong forts which however, were taken in a fine charge with considerable loss on our side, a large number of prisoners were taken and seven pieces of cannon by the colored boys who fought splendidly. Along the whole line there was some 20 pieces of cannon captured.
Early on the morning of the 17th our Division charged the rebel works with complete success, taking two regiments of infantry with 18 commissioned officers, and four pieces of cannon. Maj. P. P. Bixby, commanding the 6th N. H., was slightly wounded in the chest, being knocked down by a spent ball. It only relieved him from duty for a few hours, for he is in command again to-day. Gen. S. G. Griffin had his horse shot from under him, but himself escaped without a scratch. Our loss during the forenoon was about 150 men, killed and wounded. The 1st and 3d Divisions of the 9th corps charged and took 3 lines of rifle pits in the afternoon but were unable to hold them and were repulsed with severe loss, losing over 500 men.
There has been very heavy cannonading all the middle of the day, and is still in progress on the right, and in the immediate front of Petersburg, but I do not know with what result; it is not yet decided. Our own division and corps are in front again this afternoon, on the extreme left, on the south of Petersburg, threatening the line of railroad from Petersburg, south. We have pressed them back in front of our corps nearly a mile over the railroad, and are now tearing up the track, and are still pushing them, though they fight desperately, and dispute every foot. The lines of work which we could hold yesterday have been taken to-day, and are held. The result of to-day’s fighting is that on the left (our corps line) we have pressed the rebs. back some two miles and a half, torn up the line of railroad, and are still pressing them back; we are not losing very heavily to-day, but are gaining advantages in position which will oblige them to leave Petersburg, or be taken prisoners.
Glowing accounts of the splendid behavior of our colored troops come in from all quarters. While the rebels will stand and fight, and dispute inch by inch with our white soldiers, when they see black boys coming on the charge with fire and glistening bayonets, they cannot stand before them.
For all we have been skirmishing, marching, and fighting, for the last forty-three days continually before the enemy, enduring hardships before unknown, sometimes suffering for the want of rations, lying in trenches and rifle pits day and night, yet our men are in the best of spirits, and go into the fight with an enthusiasm never before equalled. The constant depression of spirits to which the rebels are subjected is telling upon them. Our men go in with a ringing cheer, gaining confidence each day. We look forward to the day, as not far distant, when we shall fight no more, for there will be no enemy to fight.
I enclose a correct list of wounded and killed in this fight, from the 6th and 9th N. H. Regiments.
Up to 12 o’clock to-night there are no more wounded; the fight is still going on; the rebel batteries are silenced, and our sharpshooters control them.
LIST OF WOUNDED IN THE 6TH AND 9TH N. H. REGIMENTS, JUNE 17TH, 1864, IN FIGHT NEAR PETERSBURG, VA. 6th N. H.—Private A. Myre, Co. B, flesh wound in hand; Corp. O. F. Mason, Co. F, flesh wound in heel; Sergt. Ambrose Butler, Co. K, flesh wound in thigh; Corp. John Brown, Co. D, severe wound in leg; private Geo. Collins, Co. F, severe wound in leg; John Bush, Co. D, flesh wound in thigh; Edwin Green, Co. B, flesh wound in head; Sergt. Francis Gleason, Co. F, wounded in thorax, severely.
9th N. H.—Private John Dasha, Co. C, wounded severely, (since died); Frindo F. Eastman, Co. B, wounded in back, slightly; Henry H. George, Co. B, wounded in hand, severely; John F. Tuttle, Co. A, wounded in arm, slightly; Sergt. Henry F. Partridge, Co. I, wounded in groin, slightly. Yours, L.1
- “Our Army Correspondence.” New Hampshire Sentinel. June 30, 1864, p. ? col. ? ↩