Civil War letter III

On the banks of the Potomac

Sunday Oct. 27 1861

Mother,

Although I have sent you one letter this week you will probably be glad to hear from me again as I only assured you of my own safety.  I will now write a little more about the affair of last Monday.  Sunday night the Major advised the boys to have things ready as we might be called upon before morning and about 12 o’clock we were startled by the long roll and got started at one.  We were ordered to report at the river at four but got there before that time all of us a sweat and stood round til we was chilled through.  We began to cross at sunrise or a little after.  We crossed 620 men of our Regt. Co. had the first skirmish before we got there.  We had to go up a steep bluff in a cart path.  It was a hard fight and the enemy having reinforcements compleatly [sic] routed our small force and the order to retreat was given at about dusk.  We retreated to the river where we had to stop as there was only one boat and that was quickly swamped by the troops crowding onto it.  Then we had to swim the river or stand and be shot as they poured the balls down after us after the commanding officers had sent up a flag of truce.  So taking off my shoes and belts and throwing my fun into the river I plunged in to swim for dear life the bullets raining into the water like hail from the top of the bluff.  Joel Hosmere started at the same time that I did but he took off his cloths we touched once before we got across.  Our overcoats and blankets were left on the island which I forgot to mention.  We run across the the island to where they were and then got across to the canal side of the river in an old flat boat.  Then I started for camp 7 or 8 miles with my wet clothes and stocking feet too.  When I got to camp I was just about used up but considered myself lucky to get back at all.  The boys kept coming, the next two days by 2s and 3s.  The number of missing is 26 including the Captain, on Sergt and one corporal there is several wounded ones in the hospital I do not write the particulars of the fight nor the names of the missing.  The first I don’t like to think of and the last I had rather leave for others better able to break the news to their friends.  We are not in the best of health most of us having bad colds.  We are on picket now near where we crossed the river although we are not fit for duty.  I hope we shall be relieved soon.  A. P. Rumball S. C. Shepley Dr. Hickcock and Mr. Marshall are here today.  Mr. M. offered to take this along and if I get it done I shall send it by him.  I got the boots and things all right the pears somewhat decayed but very good for all that I was glad the boots were tapped they came just in time as I had left my shoes in Va.  If when you write will you tell me how to make that linament [sic] with hartshorn in it I will try to make me some I want to use it quite often do you think I can make it?  Cousin George swam the river but had to throw away all his money and his watch as did a good many others.  I saved all of mine $10.50.  Curtis was not there so was of course safe from all harm.  I shall have to close here in order to send by Mr. M, so goodbye.

From

Henry

I hope you will write soon,

H

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