Friday, June 11, 2010

A letter from Bealeton

Today at Brandy Station: June 11, 1863

Below is a portion of a letter from an unknown soldier in the 124th New York Infantry. The 124th took part in the fighting at Brandy Station two day prior and had a front row seat to activities that took place on the St. James Church plain.

Bealeton Station, Va., June 11 1863.
Dear Mother
The day before yesterday we had quite a battle at "Beverly Ford" on the Rappahannock. I wrote to you on the 8th from this place place, as we were going up, and on the night of the day that I wrote to you, we marched to the vicinity of the Ford just above Rappahannock Station on this R.R. [Orange & Alexandria] where we laid until morning. Before day light everything was stirring, and at daylight we were down to the Ford. Some cavalry crossed before us, but the 124th was the first regiment of infantry that went over. The water was about three feet deep, but the bottom was good, and we got over with (page two ) -out any trouble, except, wet pants. The slope from the river, back, from about half a mile was clear, and then you came to a large piece of woods, and there the cavalry was at work with the enemy. As soon as we were across we were ordered to the front, and as we marched up the slope we met cavalry men coming back, some of them with prisoners; others wounded or helping those that were. We soon got into the woods, on the Gordonsville road I think, and every little way we would see dead and dieing rebs. When we had got into the woods about half a mile, we were deployed on the left side of the road, and then moved forward in line of battle till we arrived within about ten yards of the outer edge of the woods, there we were ordered to lay down and await the coming of the enemy. No sooner than we had got this position when (page three) they commenced to shell us, but they shot too high and no one was hurt. Soon the word was passed along the line that the rebel cavalry was preparing to charge on us, and that we must "stand like a rock and shoot at the horses." In about five minutes we could see them as they came sweeping across the open space in our front, and in another instance they were in close pistol shot of us, when we jumped on our feet and poured in a volley which through them into confusion and dismounted a great many while the next volley sent them rolling back a disorganized mob. Some prisoners that we took said that they did not know that we had infantry in the woods or they would not have made the charge. A little while after this they attempted to turn our right flank and get command of the Ford, and our regiment and a regiment from the (page four ) the"12th Corps" was taken down there to stop them. When we arrived there, our cavalry [The 6th Pennsylvania - Rush's Lancers] had just made a charge on a reb battery and been driven back, and the enemy's skirmishers was following them up. (they were dismounted cavalry men.) Prospects did not look very bright at that time, but in a few moments, Co B. & K, under Capt. Jackson was ordered to deploy as skirmishers down along a stonewall that run towards the river. The enemy's skirmishers were about three hundred yards in front of the wall, and advancing towards it, and as we ran down along the wall, the balls flew around our head in every disagreeable manner. When we were all deployed, we turned our attention the to their grey backs and in about fifteen minutes we had driven them back out of range of our rifles, excepting a few that were not able to take themselves off on account of them getting in the way of our bullets. About one hundred yards behind our first line, was the house of "Capt. Dick Cunningham, a rebel gorilla...

Unfortunately, the letter ends here. At least the last page is missing, maybe more.

It is a wonderful account of the movement and fighting in the early part of the fight. It makes you wish for more.

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