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    [Battle of Seven Pines]. Union Captain James Cooke Archive consisting of three letters, one map, and other documents related to the career of James Cooke, spanning the years 1861 through 1881. Of note is the inclusion of a fantastic, sixteen page letter with details regarding the Battles of Williamsburg and Seven Pines.

    The Union army had laid siege to Yorktown, Virginia, from April 5, 1862, until Confederate forces silently withdrew in the night hours of May 3. James Cooke, a captain in Co. "F," 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry, was there as Federal troops entered the town the following morning, and described the scene in a letter to a friend, dated June 18, 1862: "We went through the woods cautiously with our skirmishers in advance but we could see no signs of life in any of the Forts and our men went along without any opposition...we had no idea that it was a general evacuation of the whole place..." The rebels, however, had not left the place totally unguarded: "...I was just agoing [sic] when I heard a stunning report behind me...and the men in my company falling down...I supposed right away that it was a masked battery on the opposite side of the road...I then went to the rear of the company and found...a deep hole in the ground showing it was one of those infernal machines [near Williamsburg, Virginia, was first known use of modern land mines] that the Black Hearted Traitors planted all along the roads leading to Williamsburg." The next day, May 5, Cooke and his men find themselves held in reserve near the fighting at the Battle of Williamsburg. They advanced and "...as we were going up I could hear the roar of the musketry and the yells of the boys when they made the charge." The men of the 52nd never joined the fight as when they reached the field, "...the fight was over for that day and...as the rebels still occupied a large fort we would go at them in the morning.."

    Two days after arriving at Williamsburg, they "...struck out for Richmond..." and reached the Chickahominy River on May 19, meeting some light resistance along the way: "Our men...drove the pickets of the enemy...and skirmished up to the bank of the river in the face of a severe fire of infantry and artillery by the Rebs." On Saturday, May 31, they "...took the advance toward Richmond...[and] uncovered the enemy in force in front of us." The Battle of Seven Pines was about to commence.

    "Skirmishers from the 52nd...were sent out and soon drew the fire of the enemy's pickets and...a battery that was hid behind a woods. The 104th [Pennsylvania Infantry] was sent forward on our left...and we were ordered to advance along the road...the balls went howling over our heads like something mad. This being the first time many of the boys had heard a ball scream...it made a good many look white...but not a man flinched." The men advanced over the hill, "...the Rebels...gave us the full benefit of three or four guns...We filed off to the right...to get out of range but they followed us with their shots which fell all around us..." After assuming line of battle, the men "...marched directly toward the rebel guns..." Help arrived when "One of our batteries...came up and commenced answering the speeches that had been made on the other side. It soon silenced their guns." They experienced very little action after that and two days later, June 2, they "...took possession of the railroad at Fair Oaks Station..." He does add that he "...was not with my Regt in the fight nor did I see any of our Brigade in the fight [Cooke had been separated and used as skirmishers] as where they were fighting was at the real seven pines and...I was at Fair Oaks a half mile to the right..." He concludes by giving an account of the 52nd's action during the battle as he knows it.

    Cooke has provided a wonderful, hand-drawn Map of the Seven Pines Battlefield, measuring 15.75" x 12.5", showing the area around Fair Oaks Station. Cooke has designated the positions of both the 52nd and 104th Pennsylvania Infantries. Folds are weak and separating in places with some minor loss of paper. There is a large stain in the middle of the map that straddles the vertical fold.

    Also included is a Return of Ordnance Form for Company "F," 52nd Pennsylvania Regiment, for the quarter ending December 31, 1862 [mismarked 1863]; Fair Copy of Special Orders, No. 149, May 18, 1862, regarding the sick and surplus arms and baggage; Military Appointment for Cooke as captain of Co. "F," November 5, 1862; Passaic Falls Manufacturing Company Stock Certificate, May 30, 1866; James Cooke's Passport, January 10, 1881, giving a detailed physical description of Cooke.


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    Auction Dates
    June, 2013
    8th Saturday
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