Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Hammonasset State Park
E-Mail Us for More Information!
May 6-7, 2000
June 14th, 1863
Morris Island near
It is possible for me at this time to write of the news from these parts, and to let you know that I am still well. It is not so for all of your acquaintances with us here. I will try to include some details so that you might understand what we have been doing here, and how it has occurred.
The old Eighth arrived her on the coast by the cars after a short trip, and got onto the island Friday evening. There we were assigned a stret in a rather flat camp in the pines away from the beach under the command of Col. Adler. Our company erected a fine looking street of shelter tents in short order, and got to the business of getting some supper. The evening proceeded to get overcast, and it began to rain down upon us. Most were obliged to take refuge in their tents. The rains stopped by and by, but most of the fires and wood were soaked. We turned in.
At dawn, and revielle, we fell in for role, and a camp inspection by the officers. Only one private was fined, and it was for comment bordering on disrespect, rather than any fault with his equipage. We got up our breakfasts of coffee and pork or beef as the day developed into a fine clear and warm one.
We were assembled on the parade ground, with the Eighth as the color company. It was an honor and distinction to carry our flags for the battalion. The dress parade was followed by extended company drill time, and our boys came off looking quite polished in the officers' eyes.
Orders came to me to post a camp guard, and I was able to round up only two reliefs, presented them to the officer of the day, and posted them at key points to protect the camp, since some civilians and possibly spies were frequenting the area. This was effective in preventing any unauthorized access to the camps. Civilians who were cleared were permitted unincumbered in the area.
After a quiet noon repast, our officers ordered us under arms, and we marched west. We were formed in two brigades, and the artillery in support. After a bit, it was clear that the rebels had approached our positions from the east, and we were being positioned to check their advance. The spat opened with our guns announcing us to the rebel advance guard, and then the first brigade was orderd in. It was a great push that they gave the rebels, and they fell back some, but took a great deal of casualties on the first. Then the second brigade, under our Capt. Kurtz, was ordered in, and we were able also to push again, adn push hard. We had the opportunity to crush the rebels, but a good few companies of theirs were able to slip out of the line and attack our left flank. Since it took that side of the line to refuse, our advance was thus checked, and we were held in place. That is how it ended, as the rebels simply began to melt away, and disengage.
We gathered our company, and marched off that field, returned to our company street but shortly were ordered out again. We formed in the battalion again, and this time were marched out towards the beaches. In the distance over the dunes to our front I could see the rebel flag floating about a tower in a large sand works, and down the beach about a 100 rods, was another rabel flag, and a signal corps, no doubt announcing our calling to the rebels in the fort. We proceeded down to the beach, and marched in ranks in the sand for some distance. We then halted, rested shortly, and then were put into attack formation as a column of companies, facing the rebel Battery wagner. The 54th Massachusetts black regiment was in the lead, and held the respect of all the soldiers as they were prepared to prove their mettle in this affair.
After a time, the orders were given, and we advanced at quick time, in column of companies up the sand towards the fort. I was our company left guide, and I guided on the edge of the surf, and the company to my front. The marching on the wet apron of sand was easier than those to my right, slogging through the sand with great effort. But soon, the rebel pickets were engaged, and the effort of staying alive overcame the efforts. The pickets were driven in only to their rifle pits, from where they resisted our advance. The effect on the first company was wicked, and finally, the pickets retired to the fort, and the pits fell to our advance. But the fire of shot and bullet from the fort now commenced, and shredded any attempt of the 54th to move forward, the toll on the sand was mounting, as the pits and the trench in the front of the battery was filling with the dead and the wounded. Ours was the third company in, and we were also blasted to pieces, but several of us got on the right flank of the line, and into the rifle pits, but were mercilessly pinned there for a long time. As the waves of the attack simply could not go further, an officer near us orderd one last chance, and we all able there rose up, and charged again. That advance gained only about a rod or two, and was once more checked. And so it went until all the companies committed were decimated in front of that battery. The remainder and the wounded able to retreat did so, under the cover of darkness, and were formed and marched back to the camps. Thus the second attempt to take the battery Wagner was a total disaster.
We returned to camp, exhausted, and began to prepare our supper mess. It was a quick conglomeration of all the rations each had available and amassed into boilers, with an assortment of peppers added in support. It was an effective combination, and required several hard crackers to tame the taste. Once again the evening was a little cool, and the fires hissed and smoked us blind due to the wet wood. The night was cool for sleeping, and not uncomfortable.
The next day, the dawn was bright and warm once more, and the business of getting some coffee together commenced. The obligitory roll was called, and the morning parade performed. We were once again designated the color company for the day. Our Lt. was on sick call, so our Capt. was returned to us from staff duty the previous day. But, true to form, we were called under arms about midday when the boys were about to eat, and formed again into two brigades, and pushed forward to meet the approaching rebel threats. Teh battle seemed to go about the same as the afternoon before, and the force of numbers told the story once more. the rebels tried valiantly to turn our left flank, but the reserves were thrown in, and thwarted the effort. It was not long before the rebel soldiers once more melted into the thickets of the area like so many ticks. We returned to camp after passing in review for the officers, and were ordered to pack and be ready to move out at a moment's notice. And the moment came, we all were marched off to parts unknown to us at this time.
Not all the boys are well, we had a few serious casualties in these brushes with the enemy, which is through God's providence better than other regiments, since so many have been buried in the trenches in front of the Ft. Wagner batteries. It now is clear to our boys that the soldiers of the 54th Mass. are as hard and true as any of us, and deserve all the praise our country can heap upon them. Let it be known that they indeed were the heroes of the atack, and were not in any way the cause of the failure of the endeavor. I will expect to write to you again, once we are settled in a new location, and a mail can be got up. Until then, if you would continue to post me of the news from home, and direct via Washington, as the mail will follow us in the field best that way. I would find it very acceptable if you could see to put a few stamps in your next, as mine are few, and I have no prospect of obtaining them here.
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.