Ransom W. Towle to [Family and Friends]

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Hd qrs. 4th Reg Vt. Vols. Camp nearWilliamsburg Va.May 8th 1862

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Last Sunday morning it was discovered that the Enemy had left their whole line of defense in front of Yorktown. We packed knappsacks tents and everything and at 11 o’clock were in pursuit We marched some twelve miles passing tents strewn with hats caps coats boots dishes. Roads lined by knappsacks coats Cartridge boxes guns and the like showing that the Enemy had just left in great haste in some places we found Camp fires still burning. At about dark we came up with the Enemy intrenched in a Series of Forts the strongest of which was Fort McGruder Some skirmishing was kept up through the Night. We laid down upon a Potato-field tired enough to sleep anywhere When we woke up in the morning we found ourselves in mud

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and water well soaked through At daybreak we were put in motion first to get out of the range of two 64 lb. Cannon that were within short range and directly covered us. The battle lasted from Daylight till dark but the hottest of the fighting was about four o’clock in the afternoon. The Vt troops were not in the front directly at all but were engaged in making reconnaissances Feints Supporting Batteries &c. Sometimes the Shot and Shell came nearer than was pleasant but was nothing with us to the fight of the 16th at Lees Mills but those in the front have a different experience at some points the fighting was desperate. It rained hard and incessantly during the entire Day. And this with the booming of Cannon the steady incessant rattle of Musketry and the shrieks and groans of the wounded and our drenched hungry tired condition rendered the Day rather gloomy. At night we laid down in the mud upon the Field the Rain pouring upon us through the entire Night. Notwithstanding all these disadvantages I slept soundly for nearly half the night At Daybreak we were called up rung out our Clothes and blankets and moved to the right of the Field where the fight was the hottest Since then we have been doing the work which is usual after such fighting picking up wounded burying dead &c. &c. The Number of the Enemy engaged was not less than 40000 their loss 2500 killed and wounded Our loss probably 2000 or more. The Rebels fought well but showed some signs of Savage barbarity towards helpless wounded but I will not recite any of these unpleasant scenes. We are under orders to march at a moments warning but I must stop for Dress Parade

Goodbye - in hasteRansom