21st Massachusetts Infantry - Wounded at Petersburg
January 16, 1861
Francis N. Peckham
4 pages, original Civil War Union letter written in period ink and war dated.
Off Cape Hatteras
January the 16th 1861
I received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you and the rest of the folks. I am well and hearty. I was sea sick three days on the way. There is considerable sickness on the boat. We lost two men on the way and we gave them a watery grave. They died very sudden. We left Annapolis the 6th for Fortress Monroe and when within 20 miles of the fort we were overtaken by a fog and obliged to cast anchor and we laid in the fog one night and one day. And then weighted anchor and started for the fort and reached it just as the sun was setting. We stayed there one day and then started for Fort Clark. The one that Butler took form the rebels. We were two days and nights on the way and a tough time we had too. The captain got drunk on the way and we came near being shipwrecked. He ran the boat 50 miles out of the way and then we had him arrested and then cast anchor in open sea. The sea was very rough. The waves ran over the deck of the vessel and we expected to go over every minute. But we at length reached the fort but the steamer was somewhat damaged. The Steamer New York City was wrecked off the cape with one million cartridges on board. This is a great loss as she was loaded with provisions and ordnance stores. The crew deserted her and left in a schooner. It is rumored that she was ran aground on purpose to destroy her. The 27th Regiment was wrecked on the Steamer Zouave and she sank in two hours. All was saved. She sunk within 20 rods of us.
I got a little ahead of my time. The day that we landed at Fortress Monroe we sent a reconnoitering party to see how things looked. They rank out to Sewell’s Point and when within shooting distance the rebels fired some shells at us. But did no damage. They then ran out to Newport News and they returned bring considerable news. The 9th New Jersey Regiment on board the ship Ann Thompson could not run over the bar and so the colonel and the surgeon and quartermaster and mate came ashore in a life boat with the captain of the boat and when returning to the vessel the boat was upset by the waves and the colonel and surgeon and mate were drowned. The captain was saved and is on our boat.
We are expecting a fight soon. We are going to take Roanoke Island. There is 2500 rebels on the island and they have got the gun boats in their possession and we have got 24. We think that we can give them fits. The wind is rising and the boat is rolling bad.
I shall have to close. Sent Mother 20 dollars and directed it in your care. I should like to know if she has gotten it.
F. N. Peckham
Direct to Fortress Monroe, the regiment and company as you have done. Burnsides Expedition.