Soldier from 6th Indpt. Battery writes of battles, mud, and generals


Date Written

March 22, 1863

William Henry Turner was 25 years old when this was written.
William Henry Turner died 1 year, 2 months, 5 days after writing it.
It was written 160 years, 6 months, 11 days ago.
It was a Sunday.

Near Hope Landing, Acquia Creek
Camp Bramhall
March 22, 1863
Friend Taylor,
Your letter of the 13th arrived a few days ago. I was both surprised and pleased to hear from you as it is a long while since you have written; in fact, I never expected to hear from you again by letter as I supposed the correspondence had become irksome to you & therefore you had drop it by leaving my last letter unanswered.
Since we last met, I have passed through many scenes of danger & hardship; more than once I have faced the bullets of the enemy and as yet escaped injury from them. Only two days ago, our Battery returned from a trip to the neighborhood of Culpepper where we found the rebs and did some fighting. We lost one man killed and two horses disabled. The Cavalry that was with us lost quite a number killed & wounded.

Many changes has taken place since I last heard from you; then we only had two guns & afterwards was made a full mounted Battery of six pieces. Last Fall we were made a Horse or Flying Battery and now are used almost entirely in connection with Cavalry. Before we were called a Mounted Battery and generally operated with Infantry. We have served under many Generals. At first with Patterson, then Banks, Stone (now called traitor), and afterwards Hooker. We were with Hooker throughout the Peninsular Campaign and he has no stronger supporters in the Army that the 6th N.Y. Battery. When we came out Bunting was our Capt.; he was dismissed [from] the service as incompetent. Bramhall was our next Capt., and he left us a few weeks ago. No better officer ever commanded a Company or one who was better liked; but we had to part with him as his affairs at home demanded his presence and now we will soon have our 1st Lieut. J. W. Martin as Capt.

When I enlisted, I did not think this war would last more than a year; and now I have spent nearly two years in service and yet cannot see the end any nearer. Sometimes I am led to think it is the fault of our Generals — many of whom have been appointed from other considerations besides their fitness for the position. I am spending the best years of my life here and if all the efforts now made should fail to crush this Rebellion, I shall curse the day I enlisted. But if we succeed in ending this war to the satisfaction of the North and ourselves, then I shall never regret that I was a Volunteer, but on the contrary, proudly refer to it in after life.

I hope the coming Summer will make a great change in the aspect of affairs and if possible terminate the war. This country is a complete mud hole; but it can’t be much else when it storms every other day. I am glad to hear such excellent news concerning the blossom. You may rest assured that I shall never [forget] those with whom I spent such a pleasant time on that memorable July 4th. There is a slight change necessary on the directions you send. Direct as follows —

6th Indpt. N.Y. Battery, Care of Lieut. Martin, Reserve Artillery, Army of the Potomac. Now that you have again opened the correspondence, I hope you will continue to write. My regards to all those who know me.
Your friend, — Wm H. Turner

Scans of Letter