Letter from Port Hudson, from a Member of Co, E. 114th Regiment.
REAR OF PORT HUDSON, LA.,
June 15, 1863.
DEAR SIR: It is with pain I have to relate the proceedings of yesterday, which day will ever be remembered by the 114th Regiment. On the evening of the 13th we were all served out with sixty rounds of catridge [sic] at twelve o'clock at night, our cooks made their appearance with rations of which we supplied ourselves. We were soon ordered to fall in and in a few minutes were ready to march. Accordingly five Companies of our Regiment started with Col. Smith and Major Morse as our leaders. Soon were joined by the 15th and 160th New York Regiments, 8th Vermont and 12th Connecticut, which Regiments constitute Wietzel's Brigade. We marched along silently through the woods, except some remarks about what we were going to do, every one forming his own opinion; but it being Sunday, a day so remarkable for the battles of the American army, every one was satisfied that we were going to charge the enemy's works. As we went along from one ravine to another we found troops under arms, and after a little while we came up with a group of officers, among whom was Gen. WIETZEL. The sight of our General seemed to give us new courage. Gen. Wietzel is highly esteemed by his command and their confidence in him is such that whenever he is near we anticipate no danger.
Soon our artillery opened fire and as we turned in a ravine we halted and fixed bayonets. We soon heard a cheer on our left which told us that PAYNE'S Brigade charged the enemy's works, and the roar of artillery and musketry told the bloody work had commenced. We started ahead but soon had to halt on account of the 91st New York Regiment, which was in the ravine before us. Soon the General's Aids run by us to see what was the matter. As soon as the way was clear for our Regiment we proceeded in the best of spirits expecting to cover ourselves with honor by entering the enemy's works. About six o'clock we got to the scene of action, and soon the command was given to charge on a double quick. With a yell we darted forward under a raking fire from the enemy from behind their works, until our colors got shot. At this time we poured a volley into their works and lay down until reloaded. Our gallant Major stepped in front and asked us if we were ready, to which we responded yes. He then told us to give three cheers and follow him. This time a number of us got into a ditch under the enemy’s works where our boys were slain like sheep. Our Major, like the Colonel, got wounded in this charge. Most all of our officers were either killed or wounded. Once more our shattered companies tried a charge led by Lieut. SEARLES, of Co. G. He also got wounded at this time—nearly half our men lay wounded on the field. It was a most thrilling scene to witness the groans of our brave men in their agony of pain—all our color guards were wounded, and the color bearer killed, but a Lieut. of the 160th New York picked up our colors, and one of our boys stepped forward and demanded them, so we had the honor of bringing them off the field.
After laying two hours under fire and making three charges, we fell to the rear to form again. Never did five Companies of men go into a charge more willingly or with better courage, than did the officers and men of the 114th; but there was no such thing as entering the works, for we had to charge over fallen timber and brush, and there was a ditch at least six feet wide and six feet deep on our side of their works, the breast work or parapet being eight or ten feet high so it was impossible for any man to scale them without use of ladders or plank. If we had any fair kind of a chance we would enter the works, for never was there a more determined lot of men as the number of killed and wounded will show. There were several other charges made but without effect. There was a Regiment sent in ahead with bags of cotton to fill the ditch for us to charge over, but they could not be made to go there. Out of the officers of our five Companies there were only three came out whole. I don't intend to give only a feint idea of what it was, for if I tried to I could not. Those who lived or was not wounded remained under fire until after dark. To look round the little place our Company occupied in the woods, and to see so many missing made us very sad.
The following is a list of causalities in Co. E. Lieut. Longwell, of Co. D., who took command of our Company, was wounded in the hand while leading us into action. Much praise is due him, as he is the only man who ever led Co. E. into action yet. Indeed he is a brave officer.
Sergts. Uri Rorapaugh, acting Lieut. Wm. J. Rogers, Seymour C. Horton, wounded. Corpl. John C. Stoughton, missing. Privates, Jack Chidester, David McBirney, Chas. R. Hayward, Rob't. Wedge, Benjamin Pittsley, Chas. B. Davis, Sophronus Henmon, Joseph J. Smith Freeman S. Wedge, Edw'd Post, Lewis Handy,* Preston R. Peck, all slightly wounded, excepting Preston and Handy who were mortally wounded and left on the field, probably dead. Col. Smith is living. Capt. Tucker, and Lieut. Corben, of Co. G., are killed.
I remain truly yours,
WM. B. CORBETT.
The following extract from a private letter from C. E. Thompson to his parents, will not be without interest to those who have friends in the 114th Regiment. The letter is dated at Port Hudson, June 19:
Last Sunday morning about 7 o'clock, five companies of our Regiment, B, D, E, F and G, were ordered up, and with the rest of Weitzel's brigade began moving around to the left, leaving the other five companies for picket on our lines. About daylight we arrived at the mouth of a deep ravine which our men had been clearing out for the purpose of making a charge on some earthworks ruining parallel with it. They wanted these works to plant some artillery on. Our artillery began to roar about this time, throwing shot and shell over our heads into the rebel lines, and soon we heard the yells of our boys charging on the works, and then how the muskets popped. We pushed along through the ravine as fast as we could, and soon it came our turn to charge. We had to file right, out of the ravine and go up a hill, over logs and brush about ten rods, to the rebel breastworks. From the time we filed out of the ravine until we got within a rod of the works, it was a continual whiz of bullets sounding more like bees swarming than anything else. Capt. Tucker was at the head of the company until we filed out of the ravine, he stopped on the corner saying, "I don't know about going in there." As the rear of the company passed by he rushed toward the head, and was within two feet of me when a bullet entered his breast and he fell over a log exclaiming, "Oh, my God! I am shot," and died within fifteen minutes. The last words he said were to tell his friends that he died for his country. I had just seen Capt. Tucker fall when four men came down with Col. Smith, who was shot at the head of the Regiment, the ball passing near his spine. He died last night and his body is now on the way home. Capt. Tucker was burried [sic] at Baton Rouge. We rushed on over every conceivable obstacle, the bullets flying thicker than hailstones all the time, and finally reached the foot of a little hill, about a rod from their works, which partly covered us from their fire. Major Morse was shot through the ankle, and there was no one to lead the regiment. They called for the Captain of Co. B, but he was no where to be found. Capt. Fitch of Co. F, had been wounded, and there were but two officers of our regiment to be found, Lieuts. Searles and Corbin of our company. The 160th N. Y. were supporting us. Their cowardly old Colonel kept bellowing for an officer of the 114th. Finally, as he was the senior officer on the field, he got orders to take command of the brigade and charge again. Instead of taking the lead as Col. Smith had done, he lay down in a ditch and roared out for the 114th to go on, saying he would support us. Lieuts. Searles and Corbin made a dash and the boys after them. Corbin was going into the ditch in front of the works when he was shot in the head, killed instantly and fell into the ditch. Searles received two balls in his leg and one through his body, but they think he will recover. Andrew Sawdy was shot just over the heart, the ball passing down and out at his side. We were afraid he would die at first, but he is better now and has gone to Baton Rouge—Leroy Woods was wounded in the leg, rather serious but not dangerous. Alberto Fish, of Cole Hill, was laying by my side when a bullet from the left struck him in the leg and passing down on the bone. I believe that was all that were wounded from our way. There were 13 wounded in our company besides Capt. Tucker and Lieut. Corbin. We rallied twice after making the first charge, but it was impossible for men to go over the bank as fast as the rebels would mow them down. Our regiment was then ordered to the rear and finally got out, or part of it did. There were 86 killed and wounded in the 114th.
C. E. T.