June 17, 1862, 1862 Letter from Private Robert Dawson to sister, Rebecca Dawson while at James Island, S.C. describing experience in the Battle of Secessionville in front of Battery Lamar.
(transcribed by granddaughter, Ms. Clara Warner)
James Island, South Carolina June 17, 1862
I received your letter last week & now I sit down to answer it the reason I did not answer sooner was because I was not very well. I had got wet and took cold I feel well enough though to day & I hope those few lines may find you all enjoying good health. Since I wrote to you last we have got reinforcements I guess there is 10 or 12 thousand of our men here now. on the tenth some three or 4 of regiments of the rebels made an advance & thought they would drive us off the island. (as they thought there was only twoo or three regiments of us) but they run again Wrights Brigade and in trying to flank our men they run on to the battery concealed in the bushes & they opened on them with grape & canister & cut them all to pieces & they retreated with a heavy loss. our men found over a hundred dead & we got some prisoners, our men have been busy planting siege guns to take a rebel fort it has a big gun or twoo on it & they keep shelling our pickets although they do them no harm & day before yesterday part of our regiment was sent on picket and yesterday morning the rest of the regiment was called out with the other regiments that was here, for to make an advance (I was not well & did not go out) they shelled the rebel fort a little bit and then run the infantry up to charge on it Stevens Brigade to come up on one side & Wrights on the other, Colonel leasure had charge of this brigade & he ordered them to charge & the rebels waited until they got within 30 yards of thefort & then opened on our men with grape & canister and the fort being high and steep the men could not get up fast. some of them was on the fort but they was shot down & Wrights Brigade did not get up to support our men & they had to retreat back with heavy loss, how many was lost I dont know, you will see in the papers, there is so many different reports here that it is impossible for me to give a correct account, instead of the battery & gun boats shelling the rebels out they must run the infantry up and have them all butchered up. I hear some say that general Bennan dont like for the gun boats to do all. he thought the infantry ought to have the honor, the officers of the gun boats says they can shell the Island all over but instead of that they are not allowed to do it. write soon & give me all the news about home & what they are doing
(not signed for lack of room on paper)
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