A Letter Home

Posted on March 1, 2017

REMEMBERING CLAY

A Letter Home

In a recent article written on the life of Thomas H. Scott who owned and farmed property on Henry Clay Blvd., it included his Civil War involvement. Also, it mentions his willingness to become a sharpshooter. The following is a letter he wrote home during the War:* “CAMP OF SHARPSHOOTERS, FOURTH BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION, SIXTH CORPS, NEAR SAVAGE’S STATION, VA., JUNE 8, 1864, “Agreeable to my promise, I send you a few lines, telling you of my whereabouts and the present condition of the 122nd regiment. We have lost 229 men in this campaign and are sadly reduced in numbers, but, I am glad to say, are plucky still. The rebel riflemen having become very annoying to us, it has become necessary to organize a company of sharpshooters for each brigade. A day or two ago, I was detailed as one of the members, and am now waiting for our Sharp’s rifles, the best weapon in the service. I do not think it is right in ordinary times to resort to sharp-shooting during a battle, but as the rebels seem determined to murder our wounded and those who are carrying them from the field, there is no other way left for our commanders but to do as they do. I think I can avenge some of our fallen boys for their wounds and death. Hence I am willing to enter this dangerous branch of the service. Rouselle E. Luce, of Cicero, was badly wounded by one of the enemy’s sharpshooters on the afternoon of the 6th inst. His wounds are both bad ones, but he will doubtless recover. “We are on the same ground now where the fight of the first inst. took place. Our fortifications are up to within fifty yards of the enemy strong redoubts and breastworks. Today, there is no firing of any account. Both sides are burying their dead and preparing for a desperate action tomorrow. We expect our rifles today. I will not attempt a description of the fighting of our Corps at this point. I will only say that it has been fighting and digging for eight days and nights, and has lost one-fourth of its men. No pen description can do the boys justice. The 122nd charged alone on the on enemy’s works over an open plane of 1,200 yards. And got up to within twenty rods of the enemy’s breastworks, but the enemy having an enfilading fire, we could go no further, but with our bayonets and hands dug up earth to protect us from fire, and thus held the ground all night. It was a foolish attempt to do what 2,000 men could not do. We had only 300 men on the line charging, and nearly ninety of them were of the 65th N. Y. V. “12 o’clock – Having a few moments leisure, I resume my pen, but it is under a heavy cannoning which almost deafens me. The shells and schrapnel are bursting all around us, but having got used to such scenes, we are not inclined to move into the pits and leave the shade of our tents. Our position is three-quarters of a mile from the rebel batteries, but in easy range. It is a splendid sight when our batteries open on theirs, and along the entire lines sheets of fire burst forth as if from the earth. Not a man on our side can show himself, but a half-dozen bullets are sent after him from the rebel works. Every night we have a fight of about one hour in duration. How long this will last I don’t know, but yet I am inclined to think that the siege of Richmond will last six months or a year. The rebels have nearly all their army here, and fight most desperately, and the true course for the Government to pursue is to concentrate 500,000 troops here, around Richmond, and besiege them out. Reinforcements are still coming up, and they are needed, too, I assure you. We have taken many prisoners, and those with whom I have conversed say that Grant fights like a bull dog. The people on the route from Bowling Green here say that Davis has lied to them. He told them that Grant was defeated and retreating across the Rappahannock. They could hardly realize that the Yankees had flanked Lee and was pushing him back toward Richmond. We are eleven miles north-east of Richmond, and tonight I think that the Fifth Corps will go to Bottom’s Bridge. The men who fought under McClellan say that this is the only fighting they ever saw. McClellan did not fight his entire army, and fought thirty-five days, more or less.” *Taken from the NYS Military Museum website. The letter was written during the battle of Cold Harbor while Thomas H. Scott was with Company B, 122nd NY.

Dorothy Heller, Historian

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