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21st Massachusetts Infantry - Wounded at Petersburg

Item LTR-8930
February 22, 1861 Francis N. Peckham
Price: $265.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages, written in period ink.

Roanoke Island
Feb 22nd 1861

Brother Flint,

I received your letter the 13th and was glad to hear from you. For a letter out here is of considerable comfort to a man.

We left Hatteras Inlet the 5th and arrived in light of the Island the 7th when our gunboats opened a fire on the rebels batteries at 20 minutes 10 o’clock and the bombardment lasted till dark. At 2 o’clock the general gave orders for us to land and we did so. The gunboats silenced the batteries. The rebels had the coast surveyed by the best engineers that could get and they pronounced it impregnable, except in one place. And that they had fixed alright for us. So when we landed they intended to give us fits but we knew too much. For then we landed one well above the place intended by the rebels, right in the swamp where the mud and water was two feet deep. The 25th being the first to land, the 21st came next. We soon reached the mainland and then the 21st took the lead, throwing out two companies skirmishing. It had got to be about 10 o’clock when the colonel gave orders to halt the regiment remaining. Standing up all night without any fire the boys suffering considerable. With the cold as it rained all night at 11 o’clock there was a report of three guns from the rebel picket. Company G soon brought in one of their men badly wounded. He reported that he had been within 10 rods of the rebel camp.

At daylight the next morning, the First Brigade started. We being in the second, we had to wait. The first had not gone over a mile when they were opened on by the rebel picket but we being too far from them, they were obliged to fall back to their masked battery and there they made a stand. They opened a deadly fire on the First Brigade causing them to fall back. When the 21st came up, they went up the road coming out in front of the hole. And then the fight began, generally lasting three hours. When Colonel Maggi gave the order to charge on the battery, we did so, driving the rebels in every direction. The 21st had the honor of taking the battery. Hoisting the First Colors on it and taking the rebel flag, which has since been sent to Governor Andrew.

Then the 21st boys took after them double quick, pursuing them six miles, coming upon their barracks. We captured 25 prisoners and took good amount of small arms, 33 heavy guns, mostly 39 pounds. The killed and wounded on the rebel side is not known but it is supposed to be considerable.

The killed on our side is 40, the wounded 200. It was warm work for about 4 hours the hospital department having the dead and wounded to carry off the field in the midst of the fight. I helped dress every wound in our regiment and a good many that did not belong to us. We established our hospital the nearest to the battlefield and therefore we had the most work to do.

This is all for this time.

Don’t forget to write and write what the prospect is about the war. It does not seem to me as if there was everybody else doing anything only us and I want you should write the same war news and send the same paper. Send me the paper with the description of this fight. I should like to get hold of Frank Leslie. This artist was here behind the trees watching the fight. I saw them a number of times in the fight.

Francis N. Peckham

Direct as before.