Friday, March 13, 2009

From Mancel Goodrell

The brief and expressive letters written by our soldiers, and published from time to time in the Register, are read with absorbing interest. There is nothing in the world which does us more good, than to take these letters and transfer them to our own column; and after their publication we take care to have them cut out and pasted in a scrap book. This book shall ornament our little library until the day of our death, and then it shall descend as a precious heirloom to the members of the family who may survive us.

The letter which we publish to-day, and which follows this introduction, was written at Pittsburgh Landing by MANCEL GOODRELL, son of STUART GOODRELL of this place. The young soldier is but 18 years of age; yet he has gone through an experience on the battle-field which in one day transformed him from an undisciplined recruit to a tried and successful defender of his country’s Flag. It will be seen by the letter, that his brother WILLIAM, who was wounded at Springfield when LYON fell a martyr to his country’s cause, was saved as by a miracle from instant death at Pittsburgh. – Both MANCEL and WILLIAM belong to Captain W. T. SMITH’s company of the 15th Regiment. Here is the letter which MANCEL directs to his parents:

Camp Pittsburgh,
April 10th, 1862

Dear Parents: We have had one of the hardest fought battles that ever took place on American soil. I came off save. William was knocked down by a cannon ball which cut through his hair, just missing his head! The battle lasted two days. Our Regiment has been here but half and hour when the battle commenced. We were immediately marched out and met the enemy. We had no battery to support us, while the rebels had two of them playing on us all the time. They had, also, a larger infantry force than we. When we retreated, Captain Smith and myself were the last to leave the field; and when we rallied again, the Captain came and complimented me before the Company for being the last off the field. When we rallied, but 18 of our Company could be collected to march back on the enemy. – We were joined by about 200 men from different regiments, and were led back under command of Captain Smith. General Grant rode up to us, and told us that the fortunes of the day depended now on one desperate struggle, and if we did not stand our ground the day was lost. We laid flat on our faces for four hours, while the shot and shell were flying and bursting over our heads all the time! – But we held our ground, and laid on our arms all night in a heavy thunder shower.

During the evening and night, Gen. Buell arrived with reinforcements and took command. He came just in time to save us, for the enemy had taken over two-thirds of our encampment, and they had made boasts that they would take dinner with us on Monday noon! We did not fight on Monday, but were drawn up as a reserve in the line of battle, and remained in this position all day.

On Sunday when we were hurriedly marched into battle, we left everything nearly on the boat, and have not been back yet. The knapsacks were brought out to us, but mine was not with the rest. Over half of our things were stolen. It has rained every night since we came here, and we have not had tents nor blankets till last night, and then not more than half of us were supplied.

– Published in the Daily State Register, Des Moines, Iowa, Tuesday, April 22, 1862

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