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48th Georgia Confederate Battle Letter – Dorsey W. Binion Graphically Describes the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg – “IT WAS FILLED WITH NEGROES AND YANKS CRYING OUT NO QUARTERS, WHEN A HAND-TO-HAND CONFLICT ENSUED WITH THE BREECH OF OUR GUNS AND BAYONETS…” – “THE WHOLE FACE OF THE EARTH WAS LITERALLY STREWN WITH DEAD NEGROES, YANKS AND OUR MEN, THE DREADFULEST SCENE I EVER WITNESSED.” – “OUR BOYS ARE GREAT ON PLUNDERING DEAD YANKS.”



While we have had several Union letters describing the battle of the Crater, this is the first Confederate example (other than a few with just a line or two) that graphically describes this Union catastrophe.  Here it is:

  • In Line of Battle Near Petersburg, Va. August 1st, 1864. Dear Sister, I seat myself to let you no (know) that I am yet alive, well, and hearty, sincerely hoping these few lines may find you enjoying heaven’s richest blessings in the way of health.
  • Sister, I beg you will pardon me for being so negligent in writing, and I will try and do better in the future. Everything is quiet today.
  • ON THE 30TH ABOUT 4 O’CLOCK A.M., THE YANKEES, HAVING UNDER MINDED A PORTION OF OUR WORKS, BLEW THEM UP, DESTROYING A SPAN OF 100 YARDS, KILLING NEAR 150 MEN.
  • BEFORE THE SMOKE AND DIRT WAS STILL, THE YANKS CHARGED UP AND TOOK POSSESSION OF OUR WORKS. THE NOISE AWOKE OUR BOYS ON THE RIGHT AND LEFT, WHO THROUGH EXCITEMENT IN THE DARK AMIDST THE BURSTING OF SHELLS, GRAPE, AND SHOT, THE CLASHING OF SMALL ARMS, OUR BRAVE BOYS GAVE BACK AND FORMED A LINE WHERE THEY FOUGHT THEM AND HELD THEIR POSITION UNTIL ABOUT 7 O’CLOCK A. M. WHEN OUR BRIGADE AND GEN. MAHONES ARRIVED TO RELIEVE THEM.
  • WE FORMED, CHARGED THEM WHEN WE GOT TO THE WORKS. IT WAS FILLED WITH NEGROES AND YANKS CRYING OUT NO QUARTERS, WHEN A HAND TO HAND CONFLICT ENSUED WITH THE BREECH OF OUR GUNS AND BAYONETS…
  • …AND YOU MAY DEPEND WE DID NOT SHOW MUCH QUARTERS, BUT SLAYED THEM.
  • SOME FEW NEGROES WENT TO THE REAR SO WE COULD NOT KILL THEM AS FAST AS THEY PASSED US.
  • OUR LOSS IS HEAVY CONSIDERING THE NUMBER ENGAGED. WE SUCCEEDED IN TAKING A PORTION OF THE WORKS WHICH WE HELD.
  • ABOUT 2 O’CLOCK GEN. SAUNDERS’ BRIGADE AND A PORTION OF OURS CHARGED THE REMAINDER OF THE WORK, AND CAPTURED THEM WITH GREAT SLAUGHTER, THOUGH THE YANKS LOST MUCH MORE THAN WE DID.
  • THE WHOLE FACE OF THE EARTH WAS LITERALLY STREWN WITH DEAD NEGROES, YANKS AND OUR MEN, THE DREADFULEST SCENE I EVER WITNESSED.
  • THE GREATEST SLAUGHTER THAT HAS EVER BEFALLEN OUR BRIGADE OR OUR TROOPS FOR THE NUMBER ENGAGED.
  • Prisoners say that Grant is undermining our lines at several points and aims to give us a blow up every day or so. Well, if he can keep up at it, we will try and stand it, but I think he will soon get tired of it and try some other plan.
  • Sister, news is scarce. The weather very warm and dry. It is hard times here, though we get plenty to eat, such as it is.
  • WELL, I WILL TELL YOU WHAT I CAPTURED IN THE CHARGE. ONE WATCH, HAT, KNIFE, SCISSORS, PORTFOLIO, PAPER AND ENVELOPES. THIS IS YANKEE PAPER AND ENVELOPE.
  • Some of the boys got 4 or 5 watches, pistols, and thousands of little tricks. OUR BOYS ARE GREAT ON PLUNDERING DEAD YANKS.
  • Sister, how glad I would be to see you all and get some fruit & watermelons. My love to all the children and accept the same yourself. My respects to Brother John and tell him to write me. Where is he and what doing? My respects to all inquiring friends and please excuse this badly written and misconstrued letter. Sister, please do me the honor to let me hear from you at the earliest period and oblige a brother. Hoping to hear from you soon. I close, your affectionate Brother until death shall part us. D. W. Binion Co. K 48th Ga. Regt. Petersburg, Va.

Our writer Dorsey W. Binion was a resident of Columbia County, Georgia.  He was taken prisoner at Chancellorsville on May 15th, 1863 but after being released, rejoined his regiment.  He was also hospitalized after the Petersburg Campaign.  The letter is written in ink and is 4 pages in length, with some staining/aging.  A true museum piece. 

#L8-1-64GA – Price $3,500










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