June 18, 1864 Letter from Private Robert Dawson to sister, Rebecca Dawson while camped near Petersburg, Va and discussing events around the Petersburg campaign
(transcribed by granddaughter, Ms. Clara Warner)
Near Petersburg, Va. June 18th, 1864
It is with the greatest of pleasure that I seat myself this forenoon to answer your very welcome letter which I received day before yesterday. I was very glad to hear from you. I am well at present and I hope those few lines may find you all enjoying the same blessing. I wrote a letter to you this day week I believe it was. I told you you might expect to hear of us south someplace before long. I thought then we was going to take transports but we marched, but before this reaches you you will hear where we are. we are near Petersburg now, we crossed the James river on the Pontoon Bridge some 9 or 10 miles below Harrisons Landing. we got here on the evening of the 16th and part of our corps was engaged that evening, there has been very hard fighting for the last 3 or 4 days. day before yesterday there was hard fighting, our corps was engaged and lost pretty heavy, they charged several times on the Rebs and drove them out of their pits. the rebels fought very hard. I was out to day to where the charge was made. Our men charged up to the rebel pits and they fought across the pits they clubbed others with their guns. the Lousiana tigers would not give up their pits for a long while, but our men took the pits at last. our dead and wounded lay on one side of the pit and the Rebs on the other, both sides lost heavy the rebs as heavy as our side. our Regiment lost 31 killed and wounded, the Surgeon of the Division reported 600 amputations in our Division. I hardly think that is so though for that would make the loss in all in the Division tremendous heavy, there was a great many amputations though among the wounded for there was a great many had their limbs taken off by shell and grape, where I am sitting and writing in a piece of woods there is a great many of the cut and tore up by shell, our men do not occupy Petersburg yet. I believe they hold a part of the railroad south of the town though.
I believe they hold part of the railroad and I think it is south of the town. we had some hard marching coming here. we marched day and night most of the time. I received a letter from Daniel the same day I received yours. I received one yesterday from Dan with a few lines in from you written on the 12th of December last. it had went to knoxville and back. our company had twoo wounded in this fight but none killed. they were Thomas Watt and Daniel Kenard the rest of the boys are all right yet. I saw them this morning. John Duncan is not very well he is back with the cooks he has the diarrhea. I tell you I feel myself lucky to get clear of these fights although one of our guards was wounded the 16th they were up under fire keeping the straglers up.
I want to know who it was that wrote them few lines and put them in your letter that you wrote June 8th (the last one that I received) I do not understand it altogether nor I have no idea who it is from as there is no name to it unless it is from kate. if it is she writes curious, it is a womans hand write, whoever it is said they did not want me to say any thing about Jim deserting. I never did say anything about him deserting. I said he was missing so he was but we have heard since that he was wounded. I would like to have an explanation on the matter and a name signed to the next note I dont want any more of this mysterious writing, they said they did not want me to say any thing more about Jim. our Lieutenant Colonel Dawson was wounded in this fight, well I guess I will close by wishing you well. from your Brother.
R D Dawson
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