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6th Vermont Infantry
Letter to the Editor
From a Sharpshooter.
[Mr. Caspar B. Kent, formerly from Irasburgh, and who was in the late battles of Fredericksburg, writes to his wife as follows :-ED.]
"May 2d finds me writing by moonlight. We came here yesterday about 2 o'clock, had a sharp fight of about one hour at dark, went out on picket, staid until twelve, came in and slept until five, got up, breakfasted and went to the front and fought until night; took about 400 prisoners-but the fight has been bloody to-day; it is not over yet, but to-morrow will decide. We came near getting licked to-day, but hark ! the rifles roar on our right, and there is a complete hailstorm of lead; they are trying to turn our right and left flank, but our boys are fighting with a will.
3d-I am taking care of one of my tent mattes to day-Charley Gordon; he got sunstruck, and is lying on the ground by my side.
Sunday Evening-finds me about a mile from where I was last evening, in the same woods with a few sharpshooters, trying to write. The battle lasted nearly all night, and at five this morning it commenced again. The musketry was terrible, and the cannonading was beyond all description. There was a perfect roar from five until twelve o'clock. The rebels turned our right flank this morning the first thing. Our boys fell back, fighting as they did so; our cannon was shelling them before; the ground was nearly covered with dead; the rebels fell behind our batteries and charged on the cannon, but the guns stood not over six feet apart, and our folks poured canister into them. After enduring it about two hours they turned and run; the ground was covered with piles of dead men. The rebels were reinforced and tried to take the batteries again, but they fell back, and at 12 both sides stopped seemingly by mutual consent, and there has been but little firing since, only the rebels shelled the woods where we lay, and we were obliged to get behind the trees. Then we fell back into some more woods and lay all night. Now the order comes to go to the front. It is nearly dark.
Monday Noon.-No firing to day, only from pickets; it rains a little. General Whipple was wounded this morning by a spent ball; we fear it is fatal; three of our generals are gone. Our men took Fredericksburg yesterday; they hold the heights and four miles beside; seven sharpshooters killed and forty six wounded-so I heard the surgeon say.
May 7th.-In camp again near Falmouth, in the old tent. We came in last night after a hard march from three in the morning till night, mud all the way from six inches to two feet deep; we were covered with mud. The rebels took back Fredericksburg; their force was too strong for us. We started from camp one week ago last Tuesday, and to-day is Wednesday; we have slept very little since Monday night. It began to rain and we were relieved from picket and put on our duds, (all we had left, for the rebels got our knapsacks and clothing) and stood in the rain till twelve, then we were ordered to sit down, for we would not march until morning.
We spread down our rubber blankets, (the rebels would have had those, but it rained and we had them on our shoulders) and fell asleep. At three o'clock they called us and we were wet enough; Then we started for the river, reached there about six in the morning, came nearly four miles and halted for breakfast. There I received your letter dated April 27th; was very glad to hear from home. None of this company were killed, but seven were wounded; nine killed and sixty wounded in the regiment; none of my tent mates were wounded.
This army seems unlucky, but I think we should have gained the day if the eleventh corps had not run, and it came near creating a panic. The officers near the rear ordered them to halt; they would not, and they drew their revolvers and shot several men before they could stop them.
Gen. Whipple is dead, and we lament his loss, for he was loved by all, but his labors are over in this world.
I do not think we shall stop here long. I am all right yet, only tired and lame. Write soon and excuse this hastily written letter."
Your ever true husband,
C. B. KENT.