Franklin, Luther – June 14, 1862

Michigan Civil War Collection Letters

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Regiment: 5th Michigan Infantry Battles Mentioned: Fair Oaks, Virginia Historical Figures: Samuel P. Heintzelman 1st Camp near the battlefield Fair Oaks, Va June 14th /62 Dear Parents I was happy yesterday to find that the mail contained a letter for me from home but happier to hear you were all well I have not done any duty since the battle having been quite un- well on that day + through the fatigue of marching on the field most of the way on double quick I was completely overdone + when we returned to camp at night I was never so tired in my life + we had to go to bed without our super on account of a regt having run throu gh our camp + stole every thing that they could lay their hands on + left hardly blanket enough to cover the wounded that night said Regt was the 98th NY who when they were attacted could not get but 180 men to stand + they soon left their rifle pits at the appearance of the rebels. no doubt they were forced to retreat + leave their camps + provision by an overpowering force but if they had been food soldiers they never would have stole the clothing + provision from those that had gone to their assistance The reason I did not write a longer letter home after the battle was an account of my ill health having been run with a diareah so that I could scarcely sit up long enough to write what I did but I am getting quite tough again so I guess I can make out quite a letter to day; the day our Regt went in the action was a very fine one, we had moved about 3 miles that morning + had just got nicely settled having got our tents pitched + were just eating our dinner when we heard the first firing both cannon and musketry but we finished our dinner before the order come to fall in. When it did it was with only with guns + accouterments but some of us put on our canterns which came very handy. we then went about ¼ of an mile and [  ?  ] behind a rifle pit where we staid about a quarter of an hour when we had orders to move forward which we did at rate a 2;40 rate we soon came to our battery where we again halted but we stood there but a short time be- fore one of Gen. Heintzlemans Aids rode up and told the Maj. that they wanted us an the left. we field to the left in the woods where we passed Gen. Heintzleman. as we passed he said “What Regt” he was answered the 5th Mich. when he again said. Go in boys you give it to them at Williamsburg + you can here. you are just the boys I want How that cheered up the boys + how we cheered him. We were now in a “cat hole” water half way to our knees paddleing on, at or near here + Adjutant Huching was hit with a shell letting continued on next sheet 2nd continued from other sheet his inwards all out he was a ghastly looking corpse; we go through the “cat hole” + came on a road where we were drawn up in line + advanced in that form through brush + over logs we were told that the 3d Mich was a head of us we soon came on them near a fence the enemy had fell back to the clearing; we had to pass thro ugh a slashing which was almost impossible after we got through it we were halted + we laid down and rested for 10 minutes. When we stated again we were very much [  ?  ] by our rest. we went on pass the 3d when Co A were deployed as skirmishers + advanced the Regt following them. we went through a thicket + after we got through it the guns com- menced cracking we could hear the balls whistle but they were generaly pretty high. Here Elbridge received his wound + fell back to the camp where he arived be fore dark; we advanced steadily but did not fire a shot although the balls flew like hail around our heads suddenly our skir- mishers commenced firing + when we got up where they were we commenced also for there the rebels were in the field behind fences + in + around an old Negro hut + in among the tents of which the troops were obliged to leave in the morn ing the rebels were well shelterd as well as our selvs we being in the woods. The fight now became pretty warm on both sides. the balls striking in the trees from 20 ft. high down to the ground I saw a great many of the boys fall in different Cos as we were pretty well mixed up having to come through such bad places. We could see the rebels tumbling evry way we could see them start from one hiding place to run to another + be= ing bent about half double running when a ball would over take them + you would see them tumble head long. they had found a hiding place where they were out of danger Presently we saw them a running from their hiding places in quit a force when a raking voley was [  ?  ] in them from Cos G. C. + I. which laid ½ of them low. how they scadadled. I don’t know whether they have stoped yet or not. We were now getting scarce of ammunition but [  ?  ] stood there in one gun grou- nd we did not fire only when we had a five shot. The rebels were now reinforced in front of us + they appeared to be trying to get around to our left but they were foiled by meeting somebody they did not care about meeting not more than ¼ of the Regt had car- triges now. the catridge boxes of the dead were emptied + were gone + we had no other alternative than to fall back which we done in good order + very slow as we were falling back we lost a great many men the rebels pouring it in by voley [On Envelope:] John Franklin Pompeii Luthers 1st           Gratiot Co Mich