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13th Massachusetts Infantry - Killed at Thoroughfare Gap, VA

Item LTR-8398
August 13, 1862 Daniel R. Jackson
Price: $265.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 6 pages, written in period pencil.

Company E, Roxbury Rifles

Camp near Cedar Run

August 13th 1862

Dear Father,

All is now quiet here and has been since Saturday. At midnight, the rebels have all retreated south of the Rapidan. As I promised to give the details of the battle, I will do so now, as near as I can. From the many stories which are in circulation and from what I saw myself, I also will send you an account of the fight taken the Philadelphia Inquirer.

We left Culpepper Friday afternoon, the 8th, in great hurry. As we had received intelligence that Ewell had crossed the Rapidan with several thousand men and was advancing on Culpepper. General Crawford’s Brigade of Bank’s Division, which was encamped near us, left just before we did. It was the first in the fight and suffered severely. We marched that night about three miles outside the town where we encamped. The next morning (Saturday the 9th) we took an early start. But went but a mile or so when we halted alongside the road. Awaiting orders, during which time General Banks and force passed along the Pike Road here. We also drew two days rations. The teams having been left behind at Culpepper; Company G was left to guard them. Company H was left as Provost Guard at the town. About noon, we began to hear heavy firing about 2 miles south of us. We supposed Banks had engaged the enemy. Late in the afternoon we received orders to forward. Went about two miles where we left our knapsacks, etc.. Left two men from each company to guard them. We then pushed on for the scene of action. The road all the way was filled with ambulances containing the wounded, teams and stragglers. We also met a few wounded, slightly, who had three or four to attend and help them along. Most of them stragglers pretended to be sick or wounded. But they did not have the appearance. Probably they skedaddled at first sight of the enemy. We arrived at the place of action about dusk. All was then quiet.

The regiments of our brigade were drawn up in line to await orders. We remained in that position about 15 minutes, when we were ordered to the right. The rebels discovered our position and opened their battery upon us. Killing one of the New York 9th. This occasioned great skedaddling among the troops and batteries then on the field. Leaving but this brigade. The rebels then gave us a volley of musketry which was returned by the 12th. They lost Captain Shrutlef and had eleven men wounded. We were again obliged to change our position to keep out of the way of their shells. They then lost sight of us behind a hill. But supposing we had taken shelter in the woods, commenced to shell them. But did no harm. Their shells passing over our heads.

During this time, Thompson’s Battery opened upon them supported by the 9th New York. Killing several of their horses so that they were obliged to leave their guns behind. They returned during the night and took it away. Why we did not take it, I do not know. The firing ceased about 12 o’clock at night.

We then laid down to rest. Where we remained till morning. Nothing disturbing us. Occasionally a picket gun could be heard. The next morning (Sunday), we expected they would again make their appearance and that the fight would be as severe as the day before. But they did not show themselves. So our batteries threw a few shells in the woods supposed to be occupied by them. But they did not answer. They could be seen on a mountain about two miles off. Some of the troops were in line of battle all day Sunday, on attack. We were in the rear lying in the woods and a corn field till late in the afternoon when we went into camp. Having first got our knapsacks. Everything goes on again as usual. We shall move soon.

Last Monday, the rebels sent over a flag of truce requesting permission to bury their dead and give us a chance to bury ours, as the battle was between the two picket lines. A flag was necessary for either party to go on the field. As the mail closes at 10 a.m., I must stop writing for it is near that time. I received Mother’s papers this morning (14th). Love to her. I hope she is well. I also received Sister’s letter this morning. Remember me to her and Robert. Also, to the little one. Do not forget to remember me to Willie and all inquiring friends. The weather has been very warm today. There is a fine breeze. The nights are rather cool.

Yours as ever Father,

Corporal D. R. Jackson