Stephen Carpenter Hall wrote a letter home dated 26 May 1862 to his brother William Hall's wife, Marion. At the time, Stephen Carpenter Hall was a member of Burnside's Coast Division, 25th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers at Camp Bullock. This letter discusses four brothers that were with the 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment. The Samuel that is being discussed was Samuel Judson Hall who was wounded 8 Feb 1862 at the battle of Roanoke Island, NC. He died 15 Feb 1862 and is buried in New Bern National Cemetery in New Bern, NC. The Susan mentioned at the bottom of the letter is Susan (Walden) Stone from Burrillville, RI. She was Samuel's wife.
The letter reads:
I am seated to answer your letter after so long I had almost forgotten all about your letter. I have had a good deal of guard duty to do since I receive your letter and you know that I hate to write as bad as I would to eat a good meal of vitals. Well we are encamp about eleven miles from Newbern doing picket duty. We have to go on once in three days. It would be quite pleasant if it was not for the rain. It rains about every day. You spoke about Sam. As John took care of him he knows more about him than I do, but he had the nerve of being as brave as any of us. They said that when he fell they returned to help him off. He told them to never mind him, but go ahead and give it to them. I saw him quite often while he was sick. He always seemed in very good spirits and I was in hopes he would get well. Poor fellow, he must have suffered a great deal. I received a letter from George the other day. He said that he had heard that John had been wounded, but it is not so. Well we have a good time. It is very warm here. The mosquitoes and ticks are very thick. John sends his love to you all. Well give my love to Susan and keep a good share of it yourself and William. Well, good bye.
from your brother
This letter provided to Bits of Blue and Gray by Joseph S. Hall, Jr.
Fort Monroe, June11th, 1861
I suppose you have heard the news before this. We have had a severe battle with great loss of life on both sides. I will endeaver to give you the details as near as I can.
Last Sunday evening on parade we received orders to provide ourselves with ammunition and rations for twenty four hours, and hold ourselves in readiness to march at a moment's notice. About ten o'clock we marched out of camp and took the Hampton Roads to the river, about two miles from camp. We crossed in boats into Hampton (The bridge being burnt) and started for Yorktown, a distance of twenty miles from camp. (It was now about midnight) About thirteen mile from camp or eleven miles from Hampton we came upon the enemies' picket guards, drove them in,, taking the Officer of the guard, prisoner, besides the two others. It was now about daybreak and after a little rest we were about to resume our march when we heard heavy firing in our rear in the direction of our Camp. We marched back again about four miles and came upon the Seventh Regiment of New York volunteers and the Third Regiment of Troy, who were following us. They had come upon each other in the dark and each supposing the other to be the enemy, commenced battle and before they found out their mistake, several were killed, and wounded. We started on again, altogether for Yorktown, our regiment in advance as it is always our place. About nine o'clock we halted in the woods for a rest and to prepare for what was coming. We were within half a mile of the enemy's camp and all very tired from marching all night, the distance of about eight miles without any sleep and but little rest. We had just stacked our arms and sat down when the bugle sounded to fall in line. Some of the Scouting party ahead cam back with the news that the enemy was just ahead in full force of about Five Thousands. We came upon the field and had just time to form in live whom the bell was opened by the enemy sending into our ranks a shower of balls. What followed after that I cannot give you any connected account but I give it incidentally.
The enemy were not in line of battle on the open field as we expected to find them but entrenched behind a thicket of brush and woods and when we came upon the field we could not see a man of the enemy's. They were completely in ambush and within the embankment of one of the strongest fortifications in this section of the country.
After forming in line the order came to take to the wood in companies and act as scirmishers. Four companies on the right of the line fell into the woods and worked themselves through to the fence where they halted and delivered their fine loading and firing again amid a shower of grape shot rifles and cannon balls. What became of the left of the wing I cannot say for we left them out of sight. After a few rounds we drove he enemy from one of their batteries and silenced it and carried one of their cannons. We were now ordered to fall upon our faces and hold fire. We lay there resting for about twenty minutes while the left of the wing with some of the Albany boys and a company of German riflemen having got down to a fence under their guns peppered away until we rallied and went to their assistance. This was the worst of all. We had to cross a ploughed field within fifty yards of the enemy and open to their fire which came thick and fast. I won't begin to describe the scene which here met the eye. I will only tell a few instances. A Lieutenant of Artillery received a cannon ball shattering him in pieces and throwing him across one of his own pieces. A man behind him was shot in his breast and another in the heart, dyeing instantly. I saw another having his arm blown away just below the elbow, and Mr. Griggs the young man that went to see you, was cut in two by a cannon ball and Third Sergeant was killed and our First Corporal badly wounded. These are of Company C. as near as I can learn. There are six of our Company killed and I don't know how many wounded as they have not all been brought in.
I am not wounded but came very near going several times. Once I was covered with dirt from a cannon ball which struck within four inches of me, while firing on my belly. I will not write any more now. To-morrow we are going to take them or die and if I live I will write a full account of it all. I received your letter to-day. Give my love to my sisters.
May the Lord bless you my dear wife, from your affectionate husband
Get the Times Saturday and you will learn the full particulars. The seventh and third regiments lost a great any men. I have heard there were over a hundred of the enemy killed.
* * * * * * * * * *
This letter was provided to me by Norm Schrader who said he found a website for the N.Y. 5th Regiment, Duryee's Zouaves which has the roster of all its members. http://www.zouave.org/ George G. Meloy is on the roster along with a many name Griggs who is mentioned in the letter. The website also has records on the history of its individual members available via E-mail.
Return to Letters Page