The Battle of Spotsylvania Court House & Cold Harbor: Arch...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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DescriptionThe Battle of Spotsylvania Court House & Cold Harbor: Archive of W.J.J. Webb, 51st Georgia Infantry, including his last letter home and two photographs.
W. Johnson J. Webb was a Lieut. in Co. I of the 51st Georgia Infantry. The archive includes 2 letters written home to his parents both with envelopes and 2 photographs. The first photograph is an unmarked CDV. The second is an unmounted 3 ½" x 4" albumen showing Confederate dead laid out for burial after the battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
The first letter is headed, "51st Ga. Regt. In Line of Battle Near Spotsylvania C. H. May 15 1864". Reads in part:
"Dear Parents, I am permitted to pen you a few lines, but under quite adverse circumstances. We have been engaged in battle for ten days. The longest struggle that we have ever had in Virginia. The battle is not yet over. The pickets keep up a continued fire in front of our lines. We are stationed behind some very strong breastworks awaiting the approach of the enemy."
"Gen. Lee is fighting the enemy different to what he has ever fought them before. Instead of charging them behind their works, we wait for them to charge us, which they have done many times, but with little success."
"They have succeeded one time in breaking through our lines, but they were repulsed by Battles Brigade of Alabama troops, and I regret to inform you that John Whit Thomas lost his life in the charge. I learn that he was a most gallant officer. I know that he was a gentleman."
"Friday the 5th inst. I was in one of the hardest battle that I was ever in before. On Friday morning at three o'clock we began to move towards the place of action. We march 7 miles and met the enemy before the sun was up. They had succeeded in breaking through Heth's Division. Our Brigade was double quicked in, and met the enemy under excellent hopes."
"They had driven our men about three miles, and when we met them a stubborn contest began. Our men was stampeding worse than the Yanks did at the First Manassas, but we met them with such a deadly fire that soon made them give back.
"They fought us about one hour before they would give the first inch, and with 3 lines of battle to our one, but I must say that our men did some of the best shooting of the war."
"We succeeding in driving the Yanks back about three miles, and at one o'clock we were relieved by Gen. Wofford's Brigade whose success was equally as complete as ours."
"Although we have been in such a hard fought battle, our losses are lighter than ever before. Thomas Patrick was killed. Gus Cone & Elijah Greene, who fell out of lines and did not go into the fight, was both wounded. Cone's fingers on his left hand is shot off, and Greene's foot is shot. And it is the opinion of the company, and I am certain that their own guns did the damage. These are the only casualties of the company, and our Regimental loss is quite light."
"I know Brother (Capt. John G. Webb, 9th Ga. Infantry) to be safe, also W. A. Tennille & M. G. Boss. Our loss is very light through the entire army, and that of the enemy is very heavy."
"When this fight will be over I can't tell or imagine for me. I am willing for all of the fighting to be done here before they cease. I want the war to end after this fight, and if Mr. Grant will charge our works a few more times, the "best army on the planet will go up the spout."
"Hoping to come through safe and soon to come home to enjoy the society of parents & friends. I am affectionately Your son W. J. J. Webb"
The letter comes with its original envelope marked "Due 10".
The second letter is headed, "Camp 51st Ga. Vols. Near Richmond Va., Sunday, May 29th 1864". Johnson Webb would be killed a week later at the battle of Cold Harbor, June 1st, 1864. This letter comes with its original envelope with "Due 10" markings. Writing his parents for the last time:
"You will see from the caption of this letter that the army of Northern Va. is now in the vicinity of Richmond. We offered Grant battle at Hanover Junction where the two armies fronted each other for more than two days, and he failed to join issue with us and so doing, he failed to get a good whipping. He moved off from before us by the left flank and is now going to try McLellan's Route of 1862, but he will find this the hardest twelve miles to travail that even he tried or any other person tried. He has now arrived to a place where there is but one way to move & that is to the front. His flank moves are "played out." My opinion is that before you read this letter, the wires will inform you that the grand army of the Potomac has been put to rout by Lee's "dirty Rebels." I have just returned from 9th Ga. Camp. Brother is very well and in fine spirits. I received yours with the 30 dollars in it. I am very much obligated to you though I did not need the money. Hoping that all are well, I close. Respects to J. P. L. and with the purest affection. I am your son, W. J. J. Webb"
Two excellent content Confederate letters. Some staining and the usual toning. Last letters home are especially meaningful. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection.
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