Warren E. Bliss to Smiley Bancroft
Smiley Bancroft Esq
East CalaisWashington County, Vermont
Camp in front of Richmond, Va.June 19th 1862Mr Bancroft
Thinking perhaps a few lines from near Richmond would be acceptable I will gladly
improve my time this P.M. by writing although Ive but little news of importance to
communicate. We are now encamped the west side of the Chickahominy, two miles above
the Rail Road (West point & Richmond) Bridge six miles from R. We crossed two
weeks ago Since the Battle of Fair Oaks the enemy have been very quiet except occa-
sionally picket shooting & they attempting to shell out some of our fatigue
partys & encampments They shot to near their lines. Our Regmt is on the advance
at this point & the Rebel picket line
is about 1 half mile from here We have to form & stand in line of Battle every morning from 3 oclock till 5 and are called up about every night in to line as there will be some trouble (either imaginary or real) among the Pickets There is a great deal of fast riding being done to day about the Camps by Officers & Orderlys, & the appearance is that something important is about to be done. every man has been ordered to have his canteen filled with Tea or Coffee to night, & have 20 extra rounds of Cartridges to carry in his pocket And the sick are all being carried to Hospitals across the Creek to the rear & pioneers & fatigue partys are cutting roads through the timber as far as our picket Line for the Artillery &c. &c. The men are all anxious for the Battle to commence so sure are they of success & thinking to that with the fall or surrender of Richmond comes the
last struggle of this crue Rebelion I think it must be a hard fought Battle The numbers engaged will probably be nearly equal though Deserters from the Rebel Army state the force around Richmond to be larger than many (whose means of knowing are rather limited to be sure) think MClellan’s to be But the superiority of our Arms & the no mean advantage we have over them, that of being on the right side, will, I think fully ofset against superior numbers.
The report around Camp to day is that Fort Darling is taken & it may be reliable
as heavy & rapid cannonading we heard all yesterday forenoon in that direction if
that be true our Gun Boats are probably near enough Richmond to prevent their
skedaddling across the River so I think that now they will have but little trouble in
finding the last ditch (they have so long hunted for) to die in. MClellan & staff
were here at Camp yesterday
looking over the arrangements. Our Brigade has erected a small Fort just in front of our Regt mounting six small Guns & have thrown up fortifications & dug a long line of Rifle Pitts so should they attempt to drive us back again they might possibly meet a warmer reception than they bargained for. A short dis tance to our Left is Rickets splendid [brass] Battery of 6 Napolean Guns The day of the Battle of Fair Oaks one of the Rebel Generals recognized it as one he had commanded in the regular Army (before his fall) (or to use plainer terms before the Rebellion broke out) & his men say he swore he would have that Battery if it cost 40000 lives & well he tried to redeem his pledge for no less than six times did he order his men to carge up on it & nobly did the come forward to the work to within 30 feet of the muzzles & were mown down by the hundreds by Grape & Cannister six times were their thinned ranks closed up & six times did they [but] in vain try to get possession of that Battery From where I am writing this I can see Professor Lowe’s Balloon, he is up most of the time when the weather will admit of it. The Rebs dont like to have him up there where he can see every moove that is made in the (cleared land) & have tried once or twice to
lower him a peg or so but they had the huge satisfaction of seeing their rifled shots shells bursting wide of their mark & he flourish the Stars & Stripes over them. The weather has been very warm for the past month, & a great deal of rain has fallen The Crops are looking finely. The wheat is ready for harvesting Corn & Potatoes are but little ahead of the same in Vermont years part Fruit trees are promising a bountifull crop. The water here is much better than I expected to find but not quite equal to some Vermont springs & wells. The country is much more timbered than I ever before thought it to be & not near as thickly settled there is seldom but one plantation in a clearing & the owner of it surrounded by his slaves owns a community by themselves The Plantations are mostly deserted by their owners & left in charge of slaves MClellans threat of making every White House in Virginia (where he passed) a Hospital has been in nearly every case fulfilled for from nearly every house where we have passed the Red flag is fluttering The Rebs made a dash and got past through a weak place in the picket line & got down to White House landing and did some damage to us destroying some Commissary Stores & Wagons &c & done some to themselves by taking Our Suttler & the 2d Regmt suttler prisoners I pitty the Rebels if they use them (the rebs) half as bad as they (the Suttlers) have us.
Enclosed I send you a [Medal] that Charles spoke for last winter while at Camp Griffin. They were to  to the boys after pay day, which was about two weeks ago, & learning there was in Co H one intended for him & thinking you might wish for it as a keepsake I will enclose it in this hoping it may reach you I saw Charles often while in camp but after he was carried to the Hopsital I had so much to [do] that for a few days I could not go & see him & then I heard he had gone to Yorktown & the next I heard was the sad news of his death But he could not have died in a nobler cause he had many friends here who sympathize deeply with you in your affliction You will please excuse these pieces of paper (as paper is an article here & this is the best I have) and bad writing &c &c Give my best respects to your family & enquiring friends If you see some of Father’s family soon please tell them that Box has come.
Hoping to hear from you soon
Yours Truly W.E. Bliss
Co G. 4th Vt. Regmt Smiths Division near Richmond, Va.
(Via Fortress Monroe)