May 11, 1864

                                                                                          7 miles S. W. of Fredericksburg

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 May 11, 1864 

Dear Parents,

                I may have an opportunity to send a note to you tomorrow morning though mail communication is not yet established from this place. We have had the hardest campaign that this Army ever saw and it is not over yet.  This is the seventh day that this Army has fought.[1] In the language of General Grant, “such fighting, the world never before saw”. The whole affair has been hotly contested—sometimes the tide of battle seemed to waver one way and then the other. Yet thus far we have lost no great advantages over the enemy, but we seem to be more than holding our own. Grant and Meade flanked Lee and did not have to storm the earth works at Orange Courthouse. The armies are lying face to face near Spotsylvania C. H. Each has a good position and are very evenly balanced in that respect. They are manoevering  for the best position. It is said that Grant is waiting on reinforcements from Baltimore and Washington. The news from the other Armies seems to be quite cheering. Many, very many, have been killed and wounded.  The Reserves never fought better and they have lost many men. The wounded are being sent to Baltimore and Washington via Belle Plain. A number of the 10th Regiment have been killed but I guess you are not acquainted with any of them. There has been but little artillery engaged—all musketry—and the more deadly for that. The first three days fighting was in a dense woods and thick growth of under brush. The rebels have a very large army and as heretofore has been skillfully handled but General Grant is thus far equal to the emergency and said when asked by some officer how he thought the affair was progressing, that it reminded him of the story of the “Killkenny Cats” yet he thought that his cats tails was “a leetle the longest”. Our loss thus far in prisoners has exceeded that of the enemy. Burnside’s negro troops fought splendidly.—we have lost heavily in General officers.
                I think of nothing more. Write often to me.
                                I am
                                                Yours affectionately


Next posting: May 18, 2014

Jonathan E. Helmreich
College Historian
Allegheny College
Meadville, PA 16335

[1] Chadwick here refers to the battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, May 5–12, 1864.