Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Diary of 2nd Lieutenant Lemuel A. Abbott: Thursday, May 12, 1864

Rained all night and incessantly till 10 o'clock a. m. There has been desperate fighting by the Sixth and Second Corps on our left all day at the “Bloody Angle” where they have held the enemy back as well as tried to take its works, but with great loss of life. This will evidently go down as one of the most bloody and desperate battles of the war. The Tenth Vermont was relieved by some of the Fifth Corps about 3 o'clock p. m., our Division having been ordered further to the left adjoining the “Bloody Angle” or “Slaughter Pen.” Just after we had stacked arms under the brow of a slight ridge next the bloody angle, Captain H. R. Steele wandered a little distance in front and almost immediately returned hopping along holding up his foot saying he was shot. I ordered some of the men to take him to the hospital.

I am now in command of Company K. The men seem pleased, and I'm sure I am for I like the Company. The men seem sensible, and I know them to be reliable good fighters. I am not sure but what they will win my esteem from Company B, but I never have been fickle; there's room in my heart for all the men of the gallant old Tenth Vermont. They have faith in me and it's mutual. They will never be turned down by me. We are to bivouac on our arms in a dense growth of pine forest with the enemy immediately a short distance in front. Surely this fierce struggle of giant armies can't last more than a day more. Either one or the other will have to yield, and as we have had the best of it here thus far, it will be Lee.

It is wet and depressing for the “Slaughter Pen” will be our portion next without Lee withdraws tonight which God grant he may do if it is His will. The thought that we may have to assault into the jaws of death at the bloody angle in the gray of the morning is appalling for I am told there are thousands of dead and uncared for wounded on the field between the lines, and in the rebel works the dead and wounded lay in piles, the wounded bound in by the dead several deep. The rattle and roar of musketry and artillery is dreadful as I write and may continue all night. I am about to lie down perhaps for my last sleep, but I'm too exhausted to have the thought keep me awake for seldom has sleep, sweet sleep, been more welcome. But I have never thought I should be killed in battle. It's delightful to have perfect faith — the faith of a child in such a way. It helps one to go into battle, although I dread being wounded, it shocks the system so. I never go into a fight or take a railroad journey, though, without feeling reconciled to yield up my spirit to Him who gave it if it is His will. This gives one calmness and reconciliation unspeakable. God be praised for giving me such peace. This is my prayer.

SOURCE: Lemuel Abijah Abbott, Personal Recollections and Civil War Diary, 1864, p. 55-7

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