Wheelock G. Veazey to Julia A. Veazey

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Camp on the Battle Field near WilliamsburgMay 7th 1862My darling wife

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We have won a great victory The Enemy are retreating & we are pressing after them We occupied their works which defended Yorktown on Sunday and advanced to the works in front of Williamsburg. Our advance guard - of light artillery & cavalry - attacked the enemy & quite a brilliant action took place. We soon after came up but it was just nightfall, therefore did not make an attack. That night a heavy rain set in but an attack was made in the morning, Monday, which was very severe on our left. Hookers Division made the attack & were severely handled by the Enemy. They took two batteries of ours & the result of the day looked doubtful. We had some very strong forts in front, among them was fort Magruder which has been their boast ever since we had been on the Peninsula. They considered it impregnable and I think it would have been to a front attack alone, but General Smith sent General Hancock, commanding his (Smiths) first brigade, round to

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our right to attack their left front which commanded defended a dam & was the only approach to their works on their left. The General gallantly carried the fort & commenced on the second one & soon took that. [& opened] on the third & drove the rebels from it. but did not occupy it as it was commanded by fort Magruder & his force was too small to advance further. But he sent for reenforcements & Smiths whole division was ordered up three times during the day but the orders were countermanded before executed & nothing but two batteries was sent. The Enemy pressed heavily on our left till towards night & thought they had us well started when they sent two of their reserve brigades & best troops to capture General Hancock - but they “caught a Tartar.” He had four small reg’ts & two batteries, but managed them so skillfully that he repulsed the rebels killing about 100 - & wounding 200, & took about 200 prisoners. This was the turning point of the battle. The day was won & the rebels renewed their advance on Richmond, General Hancock is the de- serving hero. He is a graduate of West Point & began & brilliant career in the Mexican War. General McClellan ar-

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rived on the ground just as General H. was engaged & says he, H, gave the decisive blow. It is the opinion of all that this last engagement of the days fight was one of the prettiest action ever fought. It was on a beautiful slope in an open field. The rebels came on gallantly with loud cheering & confidence of success & in the short space of 30 or 40 minutes the ground was strewn with hundreds killed & wounded & the living were making their best times for a shelter. In the mean time our artillery had been recaptured on the left. The battle had raged their all day & with great loss on both sides. The fight there was in a heavy growth of woods and the ground was covered with the dead of both sides for more than a mile The rebels had all the advantage of position & fought with the greatest bravery. Their shelters probably saved hundreds of lives. Their loss I dont think is much above 3000. We captured several pieces of artillery & they destroyed much more. They had to leave their wounded at Williams- burg. Every public building there is now a hospital & full of wounded soldiers. The rebel general Ripley was killed & left on the field. He wrote the history of the

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Mexican - the noted injustice of which work to many gallant officers & the northern troops generally in a fair index of his character. Early the next morn The 2nd NY Regt. was one of those engaged on the left & fought splendidly. It is one of the best here. Early the next morning our cavalry pushed after the enemy & are bringing in prisoners continually. This makes the lines of fortifications across the Peninsula that our army has taken in the face of 100000 men. This line before Williamsburg was built early last summer. Their next line is said to be about 15 miles from here. I have been interrupted every other line in this letter & dont know what I have written, but imagine it is a disconnected mess. Am much out of patience with interruptions to undertake to go further. Was delighted to get a letter from you to-day. Write very often Please remember me to my friends as safe through another battle

Yr devoted husbandW.G. Veazey