The Battle of Secessionville, S.C.: Letter by Arthur S. Ne...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Battle of Secessionville, S.C.: Letter by Arthur S. Nesmith, 3rd New Hampshire Infantry with Hand Drawn Map.
This letter is headed, "James Island, S.C. June 17th, 1862", and was written the day after the battle of Secessionville. This 6 page letter was written by Arthur S. Nesmith a resident of Franklin, New Hampshire to his sister. Included with the original envelope is a 6 ½" x 8" drawing of the battlefield giving nice details... even where the "Negro Huts" were located. The letter and map are in fine condition. Reads in part:
"We left Echotown last Thursday under the command of General Wright. Our forces numbered 9000 men and we crossed to John's Island and encamped the first night five miles overland. At dawn we took up our line of march and then the rain commenced to fall in torrents all day long. We marched 17 miles and encamped opposite Great Stevens Bay on James Island."
"The next day our regiments were thrown out as skirmishers and we soon found the rebels who saluted us with a few shells from their batteries. Gen. Stevens was present and ordered the 8th Michigan and others be sent forward to charge the enemy. Our regiment succeeded in capturing 4 prisoners and returned after dark very tired and profoundly drenched."
"We then crossed to the East side of the island to Grambler's Point and we had severe difficulty in crossing our teams through marshy ground arriving late and very wet. Nothing transpired of interest until yesterday when all Hell broke loose."
"Shells streaked into the midst of our tents, and a round shot went over the house occupied by our Generals Benham, Wright, Stevens and Williams who were consulting."
"Evidently our two gunboats opened their fire and lobbed shot and shell into the Rebs so fast that they ceased firing about five o'clock p.m. A few miles away shots were heard in the vicinity of our pickets and I took the first opportunity to see what occasioned it and evidently the whole volley was thrown into the woods in the vicinity of our point station."
"The enemy soon over took our position. The 47th NY were the first to fire as they were just going out on picket. The 97th Pennsylvania came up too and all took part in the excursion. The line of battle was formed in a few minutes and the roads were wholly torn up by the rebel shells and shot."
"After a few minutes of blistering musketry, the rebels were thrown into the woods by the 47th and the 97th regiments. At this juncture, General Wright ordered Capt. Nearvillion's battery to clean them out. There were three batteries to take before we reached the heights."
"Our heavy guns were planted and the old veteran artillery opened up with canister and grape shot for 15 minutes. Then, all was still except for the old gunboats which threw 11 shells at the fleeing rebels."
"I looked on with much interest but I could not go down until the regiment was so ordered. The result near as I can tell was a loss of 3 killed and 16 wounded on our side; and about 50 killed and double that number wounded for the rebels. This all occurred yesterday, and we expected more fighting again today but with exception of some few shells all has been quiet"
"I later visited the field of action and counted 5 dead bodies on this side of the works. A rebel Captain was brought in wounded with 5 bullet holes through the body. He died last night."
"Several other wounded prisoners were brought to our hospital. The exact numbers of the enemy engaged at this place we are unable to determine, but suppose that there was about a regiment of Georgia troops. We have just heard that General Benham is to be replaced but I hope that this will not deter our progress. With strong hopes that the Lord is on our side, we will strengthen our resolve and break this hellish rebellion. I send my love to all, Arthur S. Nesmith"
Very rarely do we find battle letters that also include illustrated maps. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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