Wheelock G. Veazey to Julia A. Veazey

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Camp Winfield ScottApril 17/62My darling wife,

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We had a hard engagement yesterday, the Vt. brigade & the artillery only were engaged on our side. The rebels were building a new battery or fort that would trouble us much when we should get ready for our grand attack so we thought best to stop them. Motts battery was the first to engage them & soon drove them from their works & guns, It was a sharp artillery action. Mott lost 7 men in a very few minutes, but the rest stood firm & the result was glorious. Genl Smith remained in his battery till the enemy were so distracted that they lost their range, (which was perfect at first, every shell bursting in our midst) then their shells went just over our heads. I was with the General all the while & can testify to his coolness & courage. After the firing ceased Genl. McClellan came up & shook hands with all of Motts men & complimented him I think very highly. He & Genl Smith had a long consultation & just after noon

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the whole Artillery of the Division, except 2 or 4 pieces in reserve, were ordered right up near the rebel fort in an opening in the woods, & opened fire. 20 pieces. The 4th Vt was deployed on our right of the fort in a wood & the 3rd on our left. There is a creek between us and the fort & all the rebel works, & a dam 10 feet wide, (I don’t know how long), making a sort of bridge across the creek in front of the fort. The water below the dam was about 3 to 5 feet deep. The enemys skirmishers were on one side the creek & ours the other, ours being the 3rd & 4th Vt, as mentioned above. An order was sent to Col Hyde to push his men across and occupy their works if possible. & to Col. Stoughton to work forward & cross on the dam if possible. After this disposition was made & everything in position & our artillery opened fire, I got permission of the General to go to my reg’t for we got word that they were fighting desperately, & I was fearful I might be needed, & wanted to be with them anyway, when I got round to them Col. Hyde had sent 4 cos. (the rest all being deployed on skirmishes, across the creek, wading to their arm-pits in water & in

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the face of a tremendous infantry fire from rifle pits, but they went through as no men ever went before, most of them wetting their ammunition or guns & some both, so they charged on the rebels, & drove them out of their first trench & occupied it themselves & those that could fired, many of the men actually drawing their charges & wiping their guns this under a cross fire, one from the left & another in front, 3 full regts [showering] & pouring into them. The Col. waited for re-enforcements until half of his men had fallen, & sent word to fall back, but here was the difficulty, to get back under such a fire & find all the wounded & dead men, but they came with all but 8. About 175 men crossed over & 76 of them were shot, 23 are dead, 45 more cant live long. Capt Pingree was wounded twice & his first Lt. twice. his 2nd Lt was my assistant, now returned to the Co, but they are doing well. Soon after this Col. Stoughton started at the head of 4 Cos for the dam & the enemy opened a terrible volley on him, he got to the end of the dam but could not cross. Capt Atherton was shot in the groin, ball going through him but wound not mortal probably. About

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the same time or soon after Col Stoughton started. Col [Lord] made a rush across where the 3rd had been but was obliged to fall back before he got halfway across- losing one of his best Captains & a good many men It got to be dark then & no further efforts were made. Our artillery affected nothing except to keep them away from their fort and guns. All our shell going over them in their rifle pits- but we got all our pieces near their forts & have a breastwork in front to protect the cannoniers, so we can put mortars in to start them from their hiding places. But had the 3rd been supported we should have got their fort. Why it was not I dont know. Perhaps no one was to blame. Genl. Brooks denies that he sent a positive order for Col. Hyde to push across. The Col.& Adjuntant say they so received it. We lost 8 men wounded besides, among the skirmishers. I escaped unhurt. The action was not renewed this morning - except an occasional shot from our Cannon. I wont try to explain the difficulties & magnitude of the work before us here. The country dont begin to know. Genl McClellan was here through the engagement. The 2nd & 5th were not engaged. Did you get two letters in one envelope I have not written since but will write oftener now if possible & you must. I cant get along with only one letter a week.

God bless you my angel. Yrs ever dearestW.G. Veazey