LETTER FROM CAPTAIN EVANS.
BATTLE LINE, NEAR PETERSBURG, Va.,
June 22, 1864
EDITOR BEDFORD INQUIRER:—
I have no doubt but the friends of the members of my Company [Company A, 184th Pennsylvania] are very anxious to know of our whereabouts and how we are getting along since we have joined the grand Army of the Potomac. Therefore I will pen you a few lines which you may insert in your valuable paper if you think it worth the room.
We landed at Belle Plain, Va., on the 18th of May , where we remained until the 21st [of May 1864], and then we took up the line of march for the Army of the Potomac, where we arrived after six days’ hard marching [presumably May 27, 1864], and joined our Corps (the 2d, 2d Division and 2d [sic, 1st] Brigade) [1/2/II/AotP]1 on Sunday evening the 29th of May, and on Monday morning [May 30, 1864] we were sent to the front line of battle, but were only engaged as skirmishers, until Friday morning the 2d [sic, 3rd?] of June , when we were ordered to charge on the enemy’s works at Cold Harbor, which was done with a good will, but we did not succeed in carrying the works and were compelled to come to a halt and entrench ourselves, in order that we could hold the ground that we had bought so dearly. I do not know what our entire loss was at that place, but it was very heavy for the time engaged.2
We held our position at that place until Sunday [sic, Monday] evening, the 13th inst. [June 13, 1864], (all the time under the fire of the enemy’s sharpshooters and part of the time his shells) when we were ordered to steal out of our works, as we supposed to take a few days rest, but alas! There was no rest for the 2d Corps. When we got out of our works and our Regiment formed, we got the command forward, to halt on the banks of the James River on Monday [sic, Tuesday] evening the 14th inst [June 14, 1864]. On Tuesday [sic, Wednesday] morning [June 15, 1864] we crossed the river and took up the march for Petersburg, and about eleven o’clock the same night we found ourselves in the outer works of the enemy, about two miles from Petersburg.3 Since that time we have been under fire all the time, gradually closing in on their inner lines, and we are now about one mile from the city, with a very strong line of works in our front.4
I will append a list of the killed, wounded and missing so that the friends of the unfortunate may know something of their loved ones, who are battling for freedom and right. The health of the troops, as a general thing, is very good, and all seem to be in good spirits. My company numbers 46 men (present) for duty.
KILLED. Mathias Mock [Mauck], David R. Snowden.
WOUNDED. W[illia]m. Yester, Simon S. Lutz, John Whitman, James Potter, C.W. Johnston, John F. Cook, Geo[rge]. W. Reighard, George Bowers, John G. Stephens, Levi Berkhimer, John Hagen, Thomas [Theo.] Snowberger, Geo[rge]. D. Brown, Michael H. Price, Sergt. Robert M. Skillington, Corp. David Barnett.
MISSING. Josiah N. Smith.
N[athan]. C. EVANS
Capt. Co. A, 184th P[ennsylvania]. V[0lunteers].5
SOPO Editor’s Note: This article was transcribed by Roy Gustrowsky.
- Evans was somehow mistaken as to his brigade, or, more likely, the paper misread what he wrote or made a typo in some other way. See Dyer’s Compendium among other sources for proof of this regiment belonging to the First Brigade. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Captain Evans is describing combat at the Battle of Cold Harbor. The main assault took place on June 3, 1864. Evans had trouble with the days and dates in June (he was off by a day). If I follow what he did later, he was getting dates right but the day wrong. However, if I do that in this case, his attack would have been on Thursday, June 2. It seems more likely he is describing the Friday, June 3 attack. If someone knows better, please Contact me. I am not an expert on Cold Harbor. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Due to various delays and miscommunications, Hancock’s Second Corps, Army of the Potomac was sorely needed at Petersburg much earlier than 11 pm on June 15, 1864. Had they made it earlier that day, Petersburg may well have fallen. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The Second Battle of Petersburg was fought from June 15-18, 1864. ↩
- “Letter from Captain Evans.” The Bedford Inquirer (Bedford, PA), July 1, 1864, p. 3, col. 2-3 ↩