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6th Vermont Infantry
Letter to the Editor
From the Sixth Regiment.
CAMP NEAR RAPPAHANNOCK,
June 11, 1863.
Friend Earle-Before the day gets warm I will take the opportunity and hastily pen you a few lines. The past few days have been filled with stirring events here on the Rappahannock. One year ago the 5th of June the army of the Potomac crossed the Chickahominy, and just one year from that day we crossed the Rappahannock for the third time, and at the same place. It has become memorable. To effect a landing our batteries opened a heavy cannonade upon the enemy's entrenchments, which served to keep them down while some of the pontoons were taken to the river and part of our brigade crossed in the boats. Part of the 26th New Jersey were the first who crossed to the opposite shore, but they remained under the bank till Major Dudley with a portion of his regiment, the 5th, had landed and charged the enemy's rifle pits. But few of the rebels escaped ; most were killed or captured ; about fifty prisoners were taken. Our loss thus far slight. The 5th immediately deployed as skirmishers and advanced as far upon the left as the ruins of the Bernard Mansion, the right to Deep Run, and the centre touched Bowling Green Road. A pontoon bridge was rapidly laid and the remainder of our brigade crossed, and the only troops that did cross till the next day ; at dark the skirmish line was relieved by the 26th New Jersey. It was about 5 P. M. that the landing was effected ; at daylight on Saturday morning, the 6th, our regiment relieved the Jerseys and were on the line till relieved by the 3d at dark. The enemy's sharp shooters fired upon us, and we could show but proper resentment, therefore a continual firing was kept up on both sides all the day long. It become so that it was not healthy for Johnny Reb to show his head, or our fellows either. The only casualties of that day on our side was sustained by our regiment-4 killed and 13 wounded. The following day, Sunday, was very quiet ; we remained in support of the skirmish line. At night our brigade was relieved and came this side to rest, where we have remained ever since upon the bluffs overlooking Fredericksburg and the whole line of the enemy's fortifications. Monday morning the rebels found we had a long line of breastworks reaching from the Bernard Mansion to Deep Run, that had made it appearance since dark the night before. It has been strengthened every night since. Last night a heavy detail from our regiment worked upon them.
Everything in this reconnoisance seems to indicate that it is the intention to hold this position, and by so doing a heavy force can be thrown over the river and an attack made before the enemy know it, at any time when it will be proper to do so.
Berdan's sharpshooters were on the skirmish line yesterday, and report says that they were a great annoyance to the rebels, that "California Joe" picked off about a dozen from one post, &c.
The most inhuman thing of all the enemy's doing during the whole time was their firing upon our stretcher bearers while carrying our dead and wounded off the field. 'Tis a barbarous practice of civilization.
The extent of this movement we cannot foresee, yet I think no attack is meditated, at least at present.
The mail of yesterday brought me a copy of the Standard of June 4th, and it was as ever a welcome messenger.
F. M. Kimball