Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
East Hartford, Conn.
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August 21-22, 1999
Somewhere in North Georgia
August, 22d, 1864
Dear Friends at home,
It seemed that we would be still in this location as long as we can keep the other people from pushing us out or cutting our supplies. While I am not sure where the closest town is to our current environs, the command had selected a nice grassy plain to establish ourselves for a time. We were in the enemy's heartland, and were ever diligent that they may surprise or press us. We set out our camp in the regulation manner, posted the guards, and then settled down for about three days of constant rain. It was a trick to try keeping dry as long as possible, but once soaked to the bone, it was not considered a pest any longer. The weather was cool but it was not cold, and that was a welcome change from the drought and heat we had been traveling with lately. Our newest home was in the company of the 8th CV, the 14th CV Ashford company, the 25th Mass, the 2d R.I., and the 2d Conn. Heavy Artillery.
The boys were able to procure a large canvas tarp, and once the wood supply had been protected from the elements, proceeded to erect a fly which could offer some protection from the rain. The nights closed in on us about that time, and some happier voices were raised in song, now that we knew we were not going to march again for several days. Once in our quarters, the rains started in torrents, and a singularly heavy deluge passed through the camp in the middle of the night, waking many but not all. There was no event of any tents coming down in the night, and we all found that quite acceptable.
The dawn came and the rain was still there. The vale of rubber blankets and ponchos soared. A hearty breakfast was prepared, and the company was taken out for drill. It was a thorough one, and was under the eyes of Lt. Boucher, who commented little, but scowled considerably. During that time, we observed a rebel company also maneuvering within our view a considerable distance away. The drill instructors returned us to camp.
It was at this time that we were surprised by a visit from the entire 2CHA to our camp. They were there to pay us compliments for our support of their historical efforts in the form of a generous contribution to our company fund. This was unexpected, but found quite acceptable. We think that their boys are first rate, and thanked them considerably.
Shortly, the regimental dress parade as called. The Major continued to instruct us in the customs to observe, and the Colonel's orders were for the rain to cease. The artillery attached to the brigade was up, and emplacing themselves around the perimeter of the camp to dissuade the rebel petulance. The boys returned to camp, for a light mess, and a few rounds of that new dice game I wrote in my last missive about. Since no one really knows the name of the game, it now carries the moniker of "Bear Trap". I decline to expand on why, but it does have to do with the Lt. and a small band of "disciples" he has acquired.
We were summoned under arms around the hour of one, but the alarm was not deemed serious enough to require action. But about three in the afternoon, we were formed, and the artillery started pounding away at the approaching rebel threat. We advanced from camp, and went into line en masse. The firing and our advance caused the grey rats to retreat but not withdraw. They had established a second line on a hasty breast works, and there held well. It seems that they wanted to draw us out, and to that location so their howitzers could play on us, and that is what happened. The casualties in our ranks went up quickly, but our numbers were strong enough to finally dislodge them from the works. They skedaddled back to support their guns, and there they stood on the top of a high ridge. Our Colonel was satisfied to leave them there. So we reformed, and marched back to our camp while details brought in the wounded and buried the dead.
Supper was of fresh venison and lamb "Wow", and was relished with vigor by the boys who had been eating salt pork and hard tack on the march for over a week. After supper, more songs were raised, and all were friends, and the rain still came down, but no one even spoke of it. The night was a little lighter on the rain, and was otherwise uneventful.
The next morning was signaled by a ground shaking artillery report, and the company came pouring out of their tents, expecting the attack. But it was only firing to once again remind the rebel that we were ever diligent and prepared. The morning mess was quickly prepared and consumed. The roll was taken, the weapons inspected, and we were off to our morning drill once more. The morning had brought the passing of the rain, although the air was heavy with moisture. This day we were concentrating on the left flank drill and the platoon drill. It was something to see how the confidence of the men can be gained or lost based on the polish of the drill. Back in camp, the guards once more were relieved.
The battalion was ordered to formation, a dress parade was conducted, inspection of arms accomplished, and a battalion drill followed. This time, as our boys were sharp, the drill went very well for us. We once again returned to camp. The midday meals were gotten up, and the boys started to enjoy the hope that the rains were not going to reappear. Around one on the clock, we were ordered up once more, and taken out on a reconaissance on force, leaving the 25th Mass in camp as guard. Our artillery was also left on guard. We marched off to the west, and climbed a hill about the place where we saw the rebel guns yesterday. It proved to be the case that they were removing most of them from that location, and that our approach caused them to retire, and leave us in possession of their last two guns. They appear to have been hauling the guns by hand, and not horses. But they were not now found in the vicinity. We came to a halt at the crest of the hill for the staff offices to confer, and then it happened. Across the valley between us and our camps, we heard the sound of the rebels attacking our now vulnerable camp. They were there in number, and in short order had overrun our gunners, turned the guns on the camp, and captured the small garrison. They rounded up the prisoners, and then turned in our direction, advancing in line. Our force used the rebel cannons on their advance, and our troops were immediately put into line and countered their attack. We advanced down hill, and into the storm of rebel fire. Our numbers were falling quickly, as the rebels were ferocious. We advanced past a line of breast works, but the rebel pressure forced the retreat to the works. There we made the stand. Our Colonel went down, and the rebels tried to flank our left. The line was refused, then collapsed. The casualties were almost complete. Finally, the Major ordered the color guard to retire, save the colors, and he went with them. The rebels swept over the rest of us, and we were all captured. So, in the course of two days, we went from a comfortable garrison camp, fully protected from rebel threats, to a captured camp, captured guns, and captured men. But the rebels were too poor to keep us, and paroled the men on the spot. So we marched back to the Union lines, and applied for transport to Camp Parole. It has not been arranged as yet, but I suspect that my next communication will be from that place.
The boys here are content, but we do miss the boys so that are now in hospital, wounded from our excursion. And we pray for the boys that were left buried in that enemy territory. How their families will grieve, but it is honorable, and for the right. May God grant us that right!
Lincoln & Liberty!
Your obedient servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.