Details of a bayonet charge at the battle of Spotsylvania Court House
June 27, 1864
The following was written 154 years, 11 months, ago.
It was a Monday.
June 27th 64
Having a few spare moments this morning before the mail leaves, I thought I would write a few lines more for I can send two sheets as well as one if I only have time to write and if you like to read a long letter from soldiers as well as I do from dear friends at home, I shall fill my time is not spent in vane. Last eve, I wrote that there was fighting on our right. It continued some at intervals all night, sometimes it was very heavy. I have not heard the result of the battle. We have more fighting in the night than we do day times. I think we will seize the City of Petersburg. It is reported our troops now ocupy the city but I do not credit the report.
Perhaps it would interest you to know something of the terror of the battlefield. I can give but a light account of such a scene but I will do the best I can to describe the charge we made on the enemy at Spottsylvania. C. H. The Rebs were in three lines of battle, one behind the other all fortified in rifle pits and redoubts from 8 to 10 feet high with loop holes for musketry. Behind the three lines of works they had a fort mounting 12 pieces of artillery. In our assault we went under cover of the woods to within about 300 yards of enemy. Here we halted and formed. We had 4 lines of battle, the 4th one being held as reserve. Our Regt and two others of our Brigade formed the from line. Here we lay waiting for orders. Soon the command came, Charge bayonets forward. Double Quick. March. And away we went with cheers that made the woods ring above the roar of musketry. We had 300 yards to pass over before we reached the first line and all this time the Rebs poured the balls into us like hail. Many fell before we reached the works. When we got up to them we first gave them a taist of the sharp steel. I think there was over 500 Rebs killed or wounded by bayonetts alone. We took over 900 prisoners and took all the artillery, but after capturing the three lines and the fort, we had not men enough left to hold it. The Rebs got reinforcements and come on our flank and we had to fall back. Our loss was heavy. We lost over half of our Regt killed & wounded.
Out of the first six men on the right of the Co, I was the only one that came out of the charge. I was no. 5. The 4 on my right and the one on my left were wounded or missing so you know one of the many narrow escapes I have passed through this summer. One ball came so near my head it blistered my ear and the force of air knocked me down. I have seen Mr. Burroughs Regt three times but he I not with them. His Co. thinks he was taken prisoner. If I have tried your patience with this lingo, I hope you will excuse me. It is the first time I have attempted to describe an action, but I must say, I thank God who has brought me safely through so many dangers. I sometimes think I am not thankful enough for such blessings. I hope to prove a faithful soldier to my God and country. Pray for me when it is well with you.
J. M. Lovejoy
Give my respects to all inquiring friends and write to me as soon as you receive if you consider it worthy. I wish to hear from you.
In your next letter, tell me all about the 11th of Jul in Roseboom and if you had a good time, also all the news you can think of that would interest an absent one who would like to enjoy the pleasures of home once more.
This sheet is full, Is it not?