17th Vermont Infantry
From the Seventeenth Regiment
Camp Near Fredericksburg, Va., May 12, 1864
MR. EDITOR: --- We , the seventeenth Vt. Regiment left Alexandria, Va. On the 28th of April, and took up our march toward the Rappahannock. We joined our corps, --- Burnside's, the 9th A.C. --- near Alexandria, and marched conjointly with them through, though not all of us were at any one time on the same road. We made a forced march of twenty miles the first day, and reached Fairfax, C.H. at night, but many a boy had to fall out, as they blistered their feet, and were unable to keep up, and others were completely exhausted and did not make Fairfax 'till late in the night. At 4 0'clock the next morning the bugle sounded, and the orders were given to fall in; then was the time you could see the wry faces, and hear the shoulder straps condemned. The boys were very lame this morning, but having started they marched better than on the day previous. On, and on we went, hardly halting to rest 'till it was time to make our coffee for dinner. We made the distance of twenty-two miles this day, and encamped at Bristow Station at night, glad this time to lay down on the ground, without building our tents being to much exhausted. And so we did. We rested the night with no covering save our blankets, and the bright starry heavens. That is when we dreamed of home, and wished ourselves there. At 4 A.M. the bugle sounded to fall in, and so we did, but not to march as we expected. We were ordered to pitch our tents and arrange our camps for a halt. We arranged our camps near the railroad, and every appearance was that we were going to remain here to guard the road. Many conjectures and camp rumors were flying as to what our duty was to be; however it proved to be that were to remain and do picket duty on this road a few days, 'till Grant could rendezvous his forces at Culpepper, and prepare them for a campaign in Virginia. We did picket duty until May 4th, when at 7 o'clock A.M. we resumed our march toward the Rappahannock. Twenty miles we were destined to make this day, which we did at 8P.M., when we went into camp at Bealton Station. The next day was to take us beyond the Rappahunnock, and within hearing of enemy's guns. At 4 o'clock, May 5th we fell in and started on the turnpike running almost directly south, and at seven we came up to the Rappahunnock. We crossed the beautiful stream on pontoon bridges --- a new kind of bridge to most of us. After we had crossed we were halted for a rest, and refreshments. Here, at 7 o'clock A.M., of the 5th of May, we, a regiment of the Green Mountain Boys, kindled our fires on the Rappahunnock shore, and made our coffee and ate a few hard tacks, --- a morning of a day that will always be remembered by us.. At 9 we took up our journey, and moved on without much halting 'till we reached Rapidan at 4 P.M. Here we halted for a short rest, and here was the first time we heard the enemy's guns. After resting a few minutes we pushed across the river, in the direction of the firing. We marched until 8 o'clock before we were halted, and by this time we had reached a point near the enemy, we had reached the ground that the rebels held that morning. We halted and stacked our arms; while we were resting we heard the severest volley of musketry that has probably been fired during the campaign. This was in the evening --- the time the rebels made that desperate charge on the 6th corps, and received such a withering fire.. This made the boys think they had got to fight, and that soon. We were returned to take our guns out of the stacks, and got our things ready, and lie down, and be ready to march at a minute's notice. At 1 A.M. the following morning the horn sounded for us all to fall in, and the order came for us to get into the ranks in close order, and to march still, without any loud talking in the ranks. This made us feel rather "green", but on we went, still and wistful, and at 7 A.M. we were on the battlefield of the wilderness. We took our position on the centre of the west wing of Grant's victorious army. Skirmishing had already commenced on the right wing, and in a few minutes they had a general engagement. We formed in line of battle, loaded our muskets and commenced our march to the front, in the forest of course, for the rebels were bound to fight us in the dense wilderness. We advanced through a small clearing with out finding any of the gray-backs. We then wheeled to the left, and took the wilderness on our left, formed a line of battle, and commenced to move in this new direction, as skirmishers, and had not gone far when they found the enemy in force, and exchanged a few shots and fell back on our line.We were supported by the 6th and 9th N. H. Regiments. We had three lines of battle, and the 17th were in the first line. We moved on steadily, but had not gone far when the rebels having learned of our approach, commenced a terrific shelling from their batteries in front. Our boys moved on steadily up to a clearing, where near the edge was a small growth of trees and a heavy rail fence. We advanced to this and laid down; we laid here two hours and the rebels kept up a severe shelling and sharp-shooting all the time, but most of their shots went over us, and but a few of us were injured. Our forces made but little reply; save now and then a few shot at their skirmishers. Finding that we could accomplish but little here, we were ordered to change our front in a new direction, and found the enemy massed behind breastworks. The 17th was ordered to the front, and to charge, which they did splendidly; they received a heavy volley from the rebels, that made them waver for a moment, but they rallied and charged on with a cheer followed by those in the rear, and succeeded in completely dislodging the gray-backs from their position and captured many prisoners. The 17th received injuries here---among the wounded of Co. C, was Captain Kenfield. We then fell back, and entrenched ourselves for the night. In the morning the rebels had skedaddled, and we were forwarded in a new direction. We did not meet with any more fighting to do 'till we reached Spottsylvania C.H.; by this time the boys had got rested, and recovered somewhat from their first fight, although our ranks were thinned by the loss of killed and wounded. Co. C lost in this engagement, 1 killed and 11 wounded. Brigham has since died of his wounds. The battle of Spottsylvania was more terrible than that of the Wilderness. I will not mention any of the movements or describe the position we held. It will be sufficient to day that the Green Mountain Boys behaved splendidly and received many praises from their commanding officer. They fought 'till they were all cut to pieces; indeed they only number now 120 men for duty. Co. C lost in killed 2: Corporal Luman Davis, and private James A Hodgman, and a large number of wounded. some of those who have since died. He feel the loss of these men greatly; it is a sever blow to our company, but personally feel the loss of corporal Brigham and Davis more that the others, since they were old acquaintances and school-mates. Feeling the loss of them as heavily as they do, and deeming it a duty to the slain for their bravery, the company have chosen a committee, and adopted the following resolutions:
I. Resolved, That in the loss of corporals Luman W Davis, and Lucian H. Bingham, and privates Samuel J. Allen, and James A. Hodgman, we miss four of the most important members of our company.
II. Resolved, That we deeply mourn their departures, and that we will condole with friends in their deep distress.
III. Resolved, That they died as soldiers with their faces to the foe. Corporal Davis fell, bravely with his face to the enemy----having received a "minie" in the forehead. The fall was untimely, and their friends mourn; but their trust was in God, and they died like soldiers.
Lamoille Newsdealer, June 8, 1864
Submitted By: Deanna French