Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Major Wilder Dwight: April 2, 1862

camp Near Edinburg, Virginia, April 2, 1862.

I promised not to write you till our monotony ceased. It has done so; yet the story is a short one. Our regiment started yesterday morning (April 1) to advance. A few shots, as we started, from some of our Parrott guns, scattered the enemy's vedettes, and five of our companies, deployed as skirmishers, led the way. The other three companies were the reserve, four hundred yards in rear, and were under my command. The occasional interchange of shots now and then, a rapid rattle of rifle-shots from our skirmishers as they came upon a retreating line of the enemy's cavalry, kept us in excitement till we got near Woodstock. When we came over the hill to that town, spang! went a gun from the opposite hill, and whirr-r-r came a shot over my reserve; the men ducked their heads a little, and I drew them under the shelter of a bank. Here there was a rapid interchange of cannon-shot; and when we had shelled out their battery, our skirmishers again advanced, driving their cavalry before them. Just beyond the town we came upon their burning camps, which they had set on fire and deserted. Again we advanced, and came to the “Narrow Pass” (so called). Here the bridge over the creek was burning. Our skirmishers put it out.

The pass is a strong position for the Rebels, and we were not surprised to hear another “spang, and the rushing of more shells. Our batteries got into position, and there was a brisk interchange of shots over our heads, the reserve being in the hollow, and getting an occasional bursting shell near it from each side. Here one of our skirmishers came back shot in the breast. As luck would have it, however, his brass plate turned the ball, so that he was not dangerously hurt. Again we went on till we came to this place. Here both bridges, the turnpike, and railroad were burning. We halted a little while before entering the town, and when we pushed on the inevitable “spang” assailed us. Our skirmishers drove the enemy across the river, and back into the woods. Our batteries silenced theirs. One poor fellow, in a regiment in rear of our reserve, had his head taken off by a shell. These were the only casualties on our side. Here we paused and went into bivouac; and, after fourteen miles' skirmishing in heavy-trim knapsacks, all our tired regiment went to sleep. This morning there has been a little more shelling. We halt for supplies. We are in bivouac, our tents having been left behind.

I hope Jackson will make a stand, but fear he will not. Yesterday was quite a brisk, exciting day. The regiment did splendidly, as all agree. I am very well, and recovering my spirits. Love to all.

SOURCE: Elizabeth Amelia Dwight, Editor, Life and Letters of Wilder Dwight: Lieut.-Col. Second Mass. Inf. Vols., p. 224-5

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