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NP: September (?) 9, 1864 Windham County Transcript: Twenty-ninth (CT) Regiment

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


In the trenches before Petersburg,
Va., Aug. 29th, 1864.

DEAR TRANSCRIPT:—My last letter to you was written from our pleasant camp in Beaufort, S. C.  There we read in papers 8 days old of the armies in Virginia, without dreaming that we were soon to share with them their trials, dangers and victories.  A few days pass and we are with them.  A short voyage packed closely in transports and we find ourself suddenly awakened from our dreams of comfort among the live oaks of South Carolina, where melons, figs and sweet potatoes were plenty and other fruits promised us in their time.  We have left our comfortable tent and fine mess houses:  sent home nice uniforms and find ourselves marching or lying on the ground, our only covering a piece of shelter tent and our only extra baggage a rubber blanket.  Our haversacks, sometimes full but oftener empty, supply us food while the “zip, zip” of bullets or the “hiss, buzz, whiz to whiz” of shell, give us music with more changes far less agreeable, than the mocking bird to which we lately listened.  Yet the change has not caused us to complain; we can take our share of all the labors of the soldier and will do our duty here with the same spirit that we did when in a more comfortable position.

We were suddenly relieved from picket on the night of July 30th, having been there since the 28th of June and returned to camp to go on an expedition.  These orders were countermanded and we began to improve our camp when on the 8th of August we went to Virginia under Brigadier General Wm. Birney.  He had his choice of the regiments at Beaufort and chose ours.  Our regiment was the last of the brigade (consisting besides ourselves of the 7th, 8th, 9th, U. S. Colored Soldiers) to land.  We arrived at Bermuda Hundred, Aug. 13th, and since that time we have been nomads having no abiding place.  I will not trouble you with details, but we have marched well; been at Deep Bottom, Strawberry Plains, have lain near the Appomattox  on both sides, and this is our second place in the trenches here.

The New York papers mention us as having been engaged in the fight of Sunday, Aug. 14th.  Two regiments of our brigade, the 7th and 9th U. S. C. S. were engaged and are well worthy of all the praise accorded them.  We held at one time the works at Deep Bottom.  We with the 8th U. S. were sent out to feel the enemy on Monday, and two companies of ours were sent out as skirmishers and drove in the pickets and behaved splendidly.  We were reserve and were hurrying forward to the front on the occasion of the attack at Strauberg [sic, Strawberry] Plains on that part of our lines held by the 8th, but the enemy were repulsed before we went there.  I regret to mention that Lieut. Col. Wort, then Brigade Officer of the day, and who rode immediately to the front, was run into by a horseman and received a severe bruise on the knee and also severe internal injuries.

So much for our marching.  Now for trench life.  We entered the trenches on the North of City Point R. R., on the night of Aug. 29th, and the next night were removed to the left some two miles.  We lie between the 6th and 7th Connecticut.  A word concerning trench life.  It is dirty; it is damp; it is monstrous.  All that breaks the dullness of doing nothing are the shells that continually pass over our heads from both our own and rebel batteries.  We have papers occasionally:  otherwise we have no reading, for all our baggage, save mine, (and may the thief that stole it little enjoy it) is far in the rear.  Yet if they will let us lie here and rest after our weary marches, we will thank them, but whether we march, burrow or fight, we will do so with the same willingness we have ever obeyed orders.

Perhaps I can gratify a reasonable curiosity as to the behavior of our regiment.  On the march, in camp, on picket, or in the trenches they have been all we could ask.  They are eager and require experience to make them cautious.  They do not trouble us with straggling.  Maj.  Gen. Birney in a General Order, complimenting the 10th Army Corps, compliments our brigade and recommends it as a model, it having no stragglers.  On our march, when we recrossed the James Springs, rain, mud, darkness and wood, when white regiments straggled all the next day, we had when we halted at the pontoon and called the roll, only four men absent, and by daylight these had reported, and so it has uniformly been; we are blessed with men that hang together.

The casualties in our regiment have been slight.  We had two men slightly wounded Aug. 27th, by pieces of shell.  A great artillery duel has just commenced (4 1-2 o’clock P. M.) over our heads.  Several shell have fallen near us wounding one man.  I find it unpleasant writing where such visitors [are?] making calls.  The health of the regiment is good, considering the exposure we have undergone.  Col. Wooster is quite indisposed, but hopes soon to be on duty.  He has kept with us when he ought to have lain quiet.  But he is known as a fighting man, participating in all its battles with the 20th C. V., while he belonged to it, and if able to ride is with us, especially if we are near danger.  I am happy to record the deserved promotion of Capt. Torrence to be Major, vice Wort promoted Lieut. Colonel.  Capt. Torrence is the only enlisted man of the 18th who has obtained a field position.  I will keep you informed of our movements whenever I find it convenient to write.  We are in the 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 10th Army Corps.

Yours respectfully,           H. H. B.1

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  1. “Twenty-Ninth Regiment.” Windham County Transcript (Danielsonville, CT). September (?) 9, 1864, p. ? col. ?
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