Seven Days Battles: Letter by Henry S. Butler, 16th Mass. ...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionSeven Days Battles: Letter by Henry S. Butler, 16th Mass. Infantry.
A 5 page letter in pencil headed, "Harrison Landing, July 9th (1862)". The writer Henry S. Butler was a resident of Groton, Mass. and includes the envelope written to a friend back home (stamp missing). Letters from band members are quite scarce and Henry has included some excellent content, in part:
"We are here on the bank of James River, resting after the damned hard times we have had for a week..."
"...When the thing (battle) is just beginning, I feel as if my Mother wanted me at home. But after you get the smell of gun powder into you, you don't care a darn for anything."
"Our Colonel was killed at the fight at Charles City Court House. I helped carry him off the field. Our Regt. was posted on a little hill near a road. If the lead didn't fly on top of that hill, then I am no judge of snakes. I never expected to get off without some of us getting hit."
"One fellow that was helping had his knapsack on and a ball hit that and went most through it..."
"At the fight before Richmond on the 25th of June, I was going up to the front with a stretcher on my shoulder and a Rebel sharpshooter up in a tree fired at me and put a hole through the old stretcher. But he did not shoot sharp enough to hit your poor uncle."
I had two or three little adventures that day. They shelled the "Johnnys" from our batteries, threw the shell over our heads and as we laid down and they let her rip, one of the things fell short and landed near where part of the first Mass. Band and some of us were laying in the rear of our Regt."
"The cursed thing was so close to me that I could hear the fuse burning before it burst. I tell you I hugged the ground mighty close. It went off with a devil of a roar and one of the pieces hit one of Company F's men and broke his arm. But it did not hit any of us Band boys."
"The Sharpshooters in the trees thought I was an officer, seeing me on horseback, and three shots were fired at me before I got out of the underbrush, but the range was so long that I could hear the balls coming and dodge them."
"A week ago Sunday I saw a fellow have both legs and one arm taken off by a shell. He screamed a few times when the shot first hit him but died in a few minutes. I have seen any quantity of legs and arms cut off by the doctors. In fact have seen the elephant pretty thoroughly I think."
"Our horns are all stove to the devil. There is but three horns in the Band shall never play anymore, as we are now more of us are unwell. The hot weather and bad water raises the devil with us."
"Direct to H. S. Butler, Band 16th Mass. Vol., Hooker's Division, Grover's Brigade, Via Fortress Monroe. Yours Ever, Henry"
The letter is in fine condition. The cover has had the stamp cut out. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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