The Ed Italo Collection
6th Vermont Infantry
Mather Family CorrespondenceCamp of the 6th Vt, May 21th/64
In the Wilderness behind the
front line of breastworks.
My own Dear Sweet Wife,
I did not write as much in my other letter as I wanted to. I expected we should have to move, and we did. We was ordered to pack up just as I got my letter backed. Nellie, I have just got back to camp. Have been out a mile and 1/2 throing up breast works all night. I am rather tired but I though that I would write you before I went to sleep. We started Tusday night and went into battle Wednesday, and have been moving somewhere every night since. Nellie, we have just got orders to be ready to move at a moments warning, so I shall have to wait for another chance.Camp of the 6th Corps on the
Bank of the North Anna River
May 24th 1864.
My deariest Wife,
We left our camp near Spotsylvania Court House Sunday the 21st at 9 o'clock, marched all night and all day Monday, rested that night, all night and started again yesterday morning. We marched very near 20 miles and halted on the other side of the river, crost over here this morning. The 5th corps was fighting here when we got here. They drove old Lee back towards Richmond. it is all quiet here this morning. Lee is in full retreat for Richmond, the rebs are getting discouraged. They are comming into our lines this morning very fast. I should think as much as five hundred have come in this morning. They throw down their arms on their skirmish lines and desert and come to us. They say they have got sick of fighting.
We had a little fight Sunday night just before we started. A few of the 11th Vt. was killed and a few taken prisoner. None of our Regiment was hurt atall. We took some prisoners and killed and wounded some of the rebs, I don't know how many. Some of the rebs that was in the fight came to us yesterday and told us about it. Nellie, you can't think what an aufull war this is. I never had any idea that it was so aufull. It don't seem as though it can last much longer. Grant is driving Lee to Richmond as fast as he can. If we can get Richmond I think it will and the war but there has got to be an aufull sight of hard fighting before we get it.
I suppose we are within about 20 miles of Richmond ow. I suppose you have seen accounts of the big fight they had in the Wilderness just before we got to our regiment. I suppose we lost kiled and wounded was about forty or fifty thousand and the rebs about the same. There is hundreds of dead men there now that are not buried at all, that is where Charlie Cleveland was kiled. I don't think he was buried at all. We could not do it that day and we left there that night. It looked rather hard to me that morning we went into the fight. We had to run over dead boddies, some was partley buried their legs or their arms sticking out. I had no time to think of it then, the shells and bullets was comming as thick as hailstones at us. We was laying down when Charlie was kiled. He was raised up on his left elbow a little so the shel struck him in the right breast and went right throurg him. Poor boy, he never knew what hurt him.
Nellie, I suppose we shall stay here all day so I will keep writing. most of our army are in persuit of Lee. Our corps is on the reserve and a guard for our supply trains. So we havn't got to keep up with the rest of the army. Generall Hancock is on our left. He is having hard fighting today. We can hear them from here. Nell I am well, only a little lame and tired. My feet are blistered bad so that the blisters will break when I am walking along. I don't hardley know how I got here at all. I have thrown away everything . I have got only what is on me. All I carry is half a wollen blanket and my tent, my paper and my ratians. 8 days ratians, we got them yesterday. We can't have anymore till the 8 days are out.
I like the hard tack first rate. I haven't grown poor any hardley. It is aufull hot here. Some of the men would fall right down i the road yesterday, almost lifeless, sun struck. It looked hard I tell you, they can't be taken care of much on the march. So we had a forced march yesterday, Grant was afraid Lee would get fortified so to keep us from crossing. This is truly a cruel war, but we have got to stand it. Our troops have all got tired of fighting as well as the rebs but they will fight to the last. They are all sure of suckess this summer and I think we shall have it too, but it will cost a good many lifes to get it.
Nell, I don't write as I do because I am discouraged. It is to let you know just how it is. I don't think as I used to about the officers keeping the war along to make money out of it. I tell you Nell, old Lee has been too much for them, but I don't think he will fool Grant. Our other Generals would fight a day or two and then back out, but Grant is bound to follow them. The rebs that come in say that Grant is too much for them. Nell, I don't know when I can send this to you but I will as soon as I can. We haven't got any communication with Washington.
Now they are fighting right clost by us. I think we shall have to move soon. Be a good girl, be cheerfull and happy. Write as often as you can so I can hear rom you. I have not heard from you yet. I can't write very often while we are on the march. I write every chance I have. If we ever get into camp I can write oftener. I wish I could hear from you.
Austin is well. He stands it first rate. Warren Greene shot off one of his fingers to get rid of fighting, so we all think. One of the Boys says he saw him do it. He says it was an accident, I guess not. Forgive me for everything, pray for me won't you Darling. I have reason to thank God for saving my life through the dangers I have passed. I shall get detailed for a blacksmith if I live a few days longer, which I hope I shall. The orderly Sargent thinks he can get me a chance. Some of the Blacksmiths time are out the 20th of June.
Good by Darling Wife, may God Bless and protect you. Don't let anyone read my letters, only Mother and Andrew and Ruth.Write soon, Direct to the 6th Vt Volls Co I
Washington D. C. Good bye W. D. M.