5th Vermont Infantry
Francis Hammond, Co. I, 5th Infantry
to his wife, Harriet Chapin Hammond
In the Woods near Yorktown, Virginia
April 30th, 1862
I wrote to Cordelia [his sister] when I was at Fortress Monroe and told her to go and see you and tell you to write to me for I have now come to a stopping place where I can get letters if there is any sent to me. I wish I could hear from you and hear you are well. I am quite well and have been since I left you. I have written several letters to you since I left you and sent some cards but could not tell you where to direct a letter to me until now. There is a man that carries the mail from Fortress Monroe here every day so if you direct a letter to Washington, DC 5th regt Vt Vol in care of Cap J R Lewis it will come to me just the same as if I was at the Fort myself.
We are encamped in the wood within 3/4 of a mile of the rebel batteries. Our breast works are within 50 rods of the enemy. They built it nights when the enemy would not see them. They are so near that the pickets talk and drink together. I have not had a chance to drink with them yet. I went out to our breast works yesterday it is but a few rods from here first out of the wood a little ways. It is not safe to leave the bushes. The sharp shooters are on the lookout every minute thought the day on both sides. They lay all along the edge of the woods and as soon as they see a man stirring they will surely fitch him. Just after I left the breast work and stepped into the bushes there were a man coming along behind me. The enemy saw him just before he entered the bushes. A rifle ball went through his body he died within a short time after and the same day while we were out getting some bushes to make us a tent there was a bullet whistled by my head but that is nothing. It dident touch me if the enemy knew just where our tents were they could shell us just as well as not. We are not allowed to fire a gun or play on the music here in the woods for fear that the enemy will find out where are men are. We can hear them play on their music from here.
Their forces are about 100,000 men or that is the estimate by our men and our forces are 150,000 including Heintzelmans forces that is expected will come up in the rear of the enemy the same time that we shall make a charge. There is no doubt but what our men will come off victorious but we shall have to loose a great many men in the operation. General McClellan sayes he can take Yorketown in 12 hours by loosing about 12,000 men. He is not ready yet but will be in a week or 10 days. The 4th, 5th, and 6th Vt regiments will be the first to make a charge or at best we are the nearest to them now and if the loss of the union men is heavy the men will be few that belong to the 5th Vt regiments that will ever see sweet home again I am thinking.
Contributed by his great-grandson, Charles Walter
Original is in the possession of the Pember Library and Museum in Granville, NY