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2nd Vermont Infantry

Francis Finnegan



DEAR FRIENDS, --- On the 2d, at evening parade, Col. Whiting told us probably before the sun went down the next day, we should be brought before the enemy, and gave us instructions in regard to keeping silent and obeying orders. Next morning the merry drum called us all from the land of dreams at an early hour. Roll call and breakfast over, we had to pack our knapsacks ready for the march. Extra underclothes and blankets were thrown away to lighten the knapsacks. The march commenced at 6 o'clock a.m., the Vermont brigade on the lead, with the 2d regt. as skirmishers. The march was very slow and heavy. At noon we met the enemy's pickets, which we drove ahead of us. Then we went along very cautiously but steadily till we came to Young's Mills, where the rebels, 100 to 150 strong, of cavalry, took shelter behind an earthwork. We were halted, two pieces of cannon brought up, and while we made a demonstration in front, a regiment was sent to operate on either flank, but the rebels left before we got within range of them. They (the rebels) were well armed with carbines, and fired several shots at our men, one of which wounded a man in Co. G, 5th Vt. Col. Smalley of the same regiment had a narrow escape at the same time. We drove the rascals about 1 1/2 miles; threw out a picket and rested the remainder of the afternoon and pitched for the night, close by the rebel earth work. They had comfortable barracks to accommodate 3 or 4 regiments, and had places erected on which to mount 6 guns. Next day (Saturday) the 3d brigade under Gen. Davidson had the lead, with the 7th Maine for skirmishers. We advanced steadily. It was evident from what we could observe that we were getting close to Secesh. We would march from one field to another, in close column, then halt and wait, till we finally halted in a large body of woods, within 1 1/2 miles of the enemy's fortifications, where we stood in readiness if called on. There was some sharp firing from artillery, at intervals that afternoon. One or two of our men were killed, and 5 or 6 wounded. The road through the woods soon became so muddy that artillery could not pass to the front. Our men threw logs and brush across the worst places; night came, and all was quiet. Next day (Sunday) our regiment was detailed, half in the forenoon and half in the afternoon, to assist in building a road from rails and poles. Monday towards night we moved to the right of line a distance of three miles. Our men are building a road parallel with the line of the enemy's works. The night before last five companies of our regiment were ordered forward to do picket duty for five days. One company goes out on the line at a time; staying twelve hours, when it is relieved by another. Where the reserve is kept it is as comfortable as any of the camps about us, which at best is nothing to brag of. Some of our men have been within rifle shot of their forts; I have been where I got a glimpse of their flag.



P.S. We have had the mail but once since leaving Newport News, and are quite in the dark about what is going on in the outer world. Gen. Keyes commands our camp, and is always at his post, on the line. He is a bold, stern looking man.

Submitted by Deanna French.

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