Saturday, October 1, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Tuesday, May 10, 1864

Warm and sultry. The stench from the dead between the lines is terrible. There has been hard fighting on our right all day. As for the Tenth Vermont it has been supporting a battery most of the time. According to rumor we have captured a large number of prisoners and several pieces of artillery. About 6 o'clock p. m. our batteries opened a tremendous fire on the enemy's works, and kept it up for two hours, but with what result I do not know, except that the guns in our front were silenced. It was a fine artillery duel and the roar appalling even to a practiced ear. We are getting the best of Lee in this battle but it's stubborn fighting on both sides.

The accuracy with which our gunners fire is wonderful. I have seen one piece of the enemy's artillery opposite me turned completely over backwards carriage and all, by a solid shot from one of our guns in front of our regiment; it evidently hit the enemy's cannon square in the muzzle. It is awe-inspiring to see the regularity, the determined set look and precision with which our begrimed artillerymen stick to their work; shot and shell screeching close by don't seem to disturb them. I was spellbound and speechless with awe and admiration for their splendid pluck and nerve for some time, at first. No words can picture such a scene. I'd rather be a “doughboy”* though — anything but an artilleryman, for I hate shells and solid shot. I think I can face anything in a charge without flinching after this splendid exhibition of nerve.

Our regiment relieved the One Hundred and Fifty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry on the skirmish line to-night. I am on lookout in a grave-like hole about the length of a man some two feet deep on top of a hillock with cut bushes stuck all about as a mask in the soft dirt thrown from the hole. The cheerfully suggestive grave-like hole is wide enough for two, and I have Corporal Shedd with me. Even such a place is fine under the circumstances for there is a constant whizzing of bullets and shrieking shells over my abode. We are not more than fifty yards from our main line so close are the two armies at this point. We have to relieve each other at night stealthily under the cover of darkness.

* An infantryman.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 52-3

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