July 14, 1862
Mr Charles Patton
I received your very kind letter on Wednesday the day that the battle commenced we was then on our march to attact the enemy we marched untill nearly midnight and halted untill two o clock the next day we started across the Chickahominy river and run in the pickets. The fighting commenced shortly afterwards and was kept up untill about 10 o clock in the night, we remained on the field till nearly day then went back to get our brigade formed, we was then placed in front trenchments, we Was then ordered to charge them. We charged through a large field and come to a steep bank which went down to a mill pond we went down the bank and got to the old run of the creek we was then halted. A battery of four or five pieces was placed on the hill behind us they throde bumshells and grape shott on them so fast they had to get out of it had not bin for our artillery they would have killed over half of us before we could have got half way across the mill pond. We run them till about three o clock they called us to a halt our regt. was put as skirmishers to drive them in. We was going up a large hill when we saw them about two hundread yards from us they commenced shooting and some of our boys did but I wanted to get a little clocer, I saw one raise up his gun I knew that he was going to shoot at me so I thought I would be as fast as he was, altho I knew that my musket would not hold up unless I took very course sight and hold about his head. We fired about the same time his ball just did miss my left shoulder. He feel down I was surtin I had him but before I got my gun loaded he crawled up and took to his heels, we run them all in and went back to our Brigade we then went in another direction and had one of the hardest fights you ever herd tell of. We lost a good many men, but the Yankees was laying crost and piled. We like to have killed all their Zouaves. They turn as black as a negro in two hours after they are killed we took twenty pieces of artillery and a large number of small armes then on Monday we had another very hard fight but we killed five to one it was on Monday that Miles Killian & Sam King got killed, both of them was as good and brave boys as ever lived, they was awlways at their post. Miles was shot down on the field. Sam was carried of and dide the next day. We lost six killed and 15 wounded, well Charley we have had an awful time surtin but I am in hopes that we will get to rest a little while now. Our Regt. has bin egaged in five of the very hardest of battles there is not but four boys in our company that has bin through every one of the battles but what got killed or woundead, I am one and Tom Brittain another that has went through them I have had men to fall on both sides of me. On Thursday when we was charging their batteries the man on my right and the one on my left both got shot also there was a cannon ball come in less than a foot of my leg. Well Charley it is not worth my while to try to give any description whatever about our fights. All I can say is that I cannot see for my life how there is as many men gets through as he does. When I get in to it I jest think if I am going to be killed that I will be killed anyhow and if not I will go through, so I go in with the determination to kill as many as I can.
Well Charley I have bin plum completely worn out had have bin sick every since the battle, I am getting pretty stout again myself & Lieut Miller is staying at a private house in Richmond paying $2.00 a day for board do write soon kiss all the babies for me, tell Ma I would be very glad if she could send me a pair of pants by some of the boys.
Sources: Christopher Watford, ed. The Civil War inNorthCarolina: Soldiers’ and Civilians’ Letters and Diaries, 1861-1865, Volume 1. (Jefferson,NorthCarolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2003). Original in Mary A. Gash Papers,North CarolinaState Archives.