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    [Siege of Petersburg]. Union Soldier's Letter by Elias L. Buterbaugh of the Signal Corps, United States Army. Two pages, 7.75" x 9.75"; James River, Virginia; dated August 19, 1864. Writing to his brother Amos from camp with the Army of the James under General Benjamin Butler on the James River, Elias Buterbaugh provides an update on his whereabouts and recent events, including the Battle of Second Deep Bottom, which occurred on August 14-20, 1864. In part: "I am still enjoying good health. We left Hd. Qer. on the 15 of this month. We are now stationed on the James River on a high bluff. There the station is on the top of a pine tree about 75 ft. high. It is in a very dangerous place. The rebels has got a battery of 4 100 pounders and five rams in the river to bear on us. Yesterday about noon they opened on us. I was just cooking dinner and they shelled us from the station. We had to cover in a ravine a little to the right of the battery. They shelled us all day and it rained we got as wet as we could get. The rebel rams was shiling duch gap [Dutch Gap] all last night that is on the opposite side of the river. The reason that they have got such a good range on us our station is just betwixt two batteries, the water battery and the mortar battery. We could see a division of rebel cavalry in our front....There is a gun on the monitor when she opens it appears to shake the ground. It is a 200 pounder. We heard very heavy cannonading in front of Petersburg...not very much accomplished toward taking Richmond. There was a big fight at deep bottom on the 15th. I heard that there was 2000 of our men killed, but I don't know how true it is." The casualty figure cited by Buterbaugh was not that far off; Union forces lost 2,900 men at the Battle of Second Deep Bottom.

    Condition: The letter has the usual mail folds, with two tiny tears occurring thereat. Scattered soling, with ink smears, and uneven toning. With original transmittal cover, with soiling.

    More Information:

    Elias L. Buterbaugh (d. 1899) enlisted in the United States Army on February 23, 1864 in Rayne Township, Pennsylvania.  He served in the Army of the James and Army of the Potomac.

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    April, 2016
    5th Tuesday
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