July 23 1862 - Letter from Hagerstown soldier at Richmond
A Letter from a Hagerstown Soldier.
—J. Noel Hall, of this town, a member of 12th Pa., Regiment of McCall's Division, gives the particulars of his experience in the battles in front of Richmond in the following letter to his sister, which we have been permitted to copy:—
“We went on picket duty at 3 o’clock on Tuesday morning, June 24th, and remained out until Thursday morning about eight o’clock when we were relieved by the 5th Regiment. We then went to camp and lay down to get a little sleep which we needed very much (not having had any for two nights,) we had not lain down more than an hour when we were roused up and formed in line and ‘‘stacked arms;" the next thing was three days rations, to draw by this time it was 3 o’clock, P. M., when firing was heard on the right of our division. We were immediately formed, and ordered into our rifle pit, by this time the firing on our right was very hot, we got into the pit and made ready to receive them, and they did not keep us long waiting, but down the road (that our rifle pit commanded) the “gray backs” came four Regiments of them. We reserved our fire until they were very close and then we up and let drive at them, and you never seen such a falling as there was at that volley. We fired two or three vollies into them and you should have seen them skedaddle up over the hill and we peppering them all the time. In that way the fight was kept up until ten o’clock that night, and with the exception of an occasional shell exploding all was quiet after that until about the three o’clock in the morning when some of the “gray backs” becoming a little too bold, were picked off by some of our boys. The firing then was kept up on both sides for about an hour, when we were ordered to cease firing and the 9th Regiment took our places, when we were leaving the pit one of our company was wounded in the knee, James Harder, of Carlisle. He was the only one of our company hurt in the fight at that place. We then fell back to Gaines’ House by order of Gen. McClellan, but it was with great reluctance, for the boys were confident they could hold our position, but we fell back to that point bringing all our baggage and artillery. We arrived there about nine or ten o’clock and were ordered to rest, and I tell you what I felt like resting, for we had been three nights without sleep. Well we rested about two hours, when word came that the Rebels were coming. Immediately every man was in his place. And here is where we lost everything. We were ordered to unsling knapsacks and pile them up, which we did, and that is the last any of us have seen of them, for shortly after we were ordered to another part of the field to support a battery, which we did throughout the whole fight that day. The Rebel Cavalry attempted to charge the battery twice, but we gave them double doses of grape and canister, which piled them up in such heaps that they were glad to draw off from that place. That day the Rebels took the bodies of their dead men and made breastworks of them. We did not leave the field that night until nine o’clock, when we marched across the Chickahominy River, and did not get any sleep that night, that was four nights without sleep. The next night, Saturday, our whole Brigade went on picket at the bridge over the Chickahominy, and no sleep again, marched all day, Sunday, until after dark when we halted for the night. That night I got about four hours sleep, got up early on Monday morning and went to work to build a log fortification, and did not get it completed until we were attacked on all sides by the gray backs. At one time our Regiment was almost entirely surrounded, but by good luck we got out with little loss.-— Here one of the bravest officers in the regiment was killed, he was first wounded and then bayoneted, but the Rebel that put his bayonet through Lieut. Arnold never lived to tell the tale, for I seen him afterward and he had no less than six bullets through him. I took two prisoners that afternoon, one a Captain, his name is J. D. Kirby, Co. K. 17th Va., Regiment. I took a splendid sword and a good revolver from him. I still have the revolver, and will try and keep it until I get home. The Captain is carrying it now. In Monday’s fight we lost more men than any other days fighting, that night we marched to City Point, and the next day we had the heaviest fighting and gave the Rebels the awfulest thrashing they ever had. Since then we have been resting, and we have been getting reinforcements every day. Gen. McClellan gives our division great praise. The 11th Regiment has only about 60 men left, our Regiment lost about 150 men in killed, wounded and prisoners, our company has four missing, supposed to be killed, and two wounded, two of the missing ones were known to be wounded. We are very comfortably fixed here now and get plenty to eat.
J. NOEL HALL.
Herald of Freedom & Torch Light
J. Noel Hall was killed in 1864.
Washington County Free Library
Hagerstown (Md.), Newspapers; Maryland, History, Civil War, 1861-1865
Washington County (Md.), 1861-1865