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Lt. Charles G. Blake Co. F, 34th Mass. Infantry Writes at the End of the Petersburg Campaign Describing the Battle of Fort Gregg, “The Confederate Alamo” & INCLUDES A HAND-DRAWN MAP – “THE GROUND WAS FAIRLY TOTTERING WITH THE SHRIEKS OF ARTILLERY AS WE ADVANCED OUR LINE OVER A LITTLE SWELL OF GROUND IN OUR FRONT.” – “BETWEEN THE SWAMP AND FORT, THE GROUND WAS BLUE WITH KILLED AND WOUNDED. “AND MANY A BLUE-JACKET WAS REDDENED. AT THE TOUCH OF THE RIFLE-BREATH.” – “WHEN A BALL STRUCK A MAN, IT WAS ALMOST SURE DEATH, OVER HE WOULD GO BACKWARDS INTO THE MUD AND WATER, IN THE DITCH BENEATH.” – “THE WATER IN THE DITCH WAS GRADUALLY TURNING THE COLOR OF WINE.”



This 4-page letter in ink includes a 5th page with a labeled map of the Union troop placement around Confederate Fort Gregg.  Charles Blake, a resident of Greenfield, Mass., was a Telegraph Operator before enlisting in July 1862 as a Sergeant.  He rapidly was promoted to Lieutenant. 

Here is the content:

  • Richmond, Va. May 8, 1865. Dear Mary, I don’t know what I am writing to say for unless tis that I know you will be glad to hear from me, even if I have nothing interesting to write about. HOW STRANGE IT SEEMS TO THINK THAT THE WAR IS OVER. THAT WE ARE TO SEE NO MORE FIGHTING, NO MORE KILLED OR WOUNDED.
  • NEVER AGAIN TO HEAR THE SHOUT OF VICTORY OR THE WAIL OF DEFEAT, UNLESS IT BE PERHAPS IN OUR DREAMS.
  • SPEAKING OF DREAMS REMINDS ME THAT I HAVE STORMED FORT GREGG THREE TIMES NOW; ONCE IN REALITY, TWICE IN DREAM LAND. EVERY INCIDENT WAS RECREATED AND TRUE TO THE LETTER. OUR FILING ACROSS THE BATTLEFIELD, SO GLORIOUSLY WON BY THE SIXTH CORPS.
  • EARLY THE SAME DAY, ACROSS THE ENEMY’S FIRST LINE OF WORKS, A CHANGE OF DIRECTION TO THE RIGHT, AND FORMING LINE FACING SQUARE TOWARDS THE SPIRES OF PETERSBURG. A MOMENT’S PAUSE TO ENABLE CURTISS TO COME UP ON OUR LEFT. ONE GLANCE AROUND AS IF TO BID ADIEU TO EARTH, ITS JOYS AND ITS SORROWS, AND THE BUGLE SOUNDED THE ADVANCE.
  • THE GROUND WAS FAIRLY TOTTERING WITH THE SHRIEKS OF ARTILLERY AS WE ADVANCED OUR LINE OVER A LITTLE SWELL OF GROUND IN OUR FRONT.
  • ARRIVED ON TOP OF THIS SWELL, THE VIEW WAS ANYTHING BUT ENCOURAGING. THE GROUND WAS SLIGHTLY DESCENDING FOR ABOUT THREE HUNDRED YARDS. THEN A SWAMP FIVE OR SIX RODS ACROSS AND FOUR TO SIX FEET DEEP. WATER, MUD, AND UNDERBRUSH, THEN AN ASCENT OVER GROUND AS SMOOTH AS YOUR HAND TO A VERY STRONG EARTHWORK.
  • WE MARCHED TO THE SWAMP UNDER A SEVERE FIRE OF MUSKETRY AND ARTILLERY, WITHOUT RETURNING A SHOT. PASSING THE SWAMP BROKE US UP SOMEWHAT, AND WE HAD TO HALT A MOMENT TO REFORM OUR LINE.
  • AFTER GETTING ACROSS, THEN WITH A YELL, THE LINE ADVANCED. THE ENEMY WHO HAD RESERVED THEIR FIRE IN A GREAT MEASURE, NOW ROSE UP AND POURED IN MURDEROUS VOLLEYS. THE AIR SOUNDED SOLID WITH IRON AND LEAD, BUT NOT A MAN FALTERED.
  • BETWEEN THE SWAMP AND FORT, THE GROUND WAS BLUE WITH KILLED AND WOUNDED. “AND MANY A BLUE-JACKET WAS REDDENED. AT THE TOUCH OF THE RIFLE-BREATH.”
  • ARRIVED AT THE DITCH, WE GAVE THEM ONE VOLLEY AND LEAPED IN. THE DITCH WAS TWELVE FEET WIDE AND TWELVE FEET DEEP. THE PARAPET TWELVE FEET HIGH AND TWELVE FEET THICK, MAKING TWENTY-FOUR FEET FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE DITCH TO THE TOP OF THE PARAPET.
  • THE DITCH WAS ABOUT HALF FULL OF WATER, MAKING IT VERY DIFFICULT TO CROSS. WE FILLED THE DITCH FULL OF MEN. OTHERS CLAMBERED OVER THEM, AND SOME GOT UP THE SWAMP BY USING THEIR BAYONETS TO CLIMB UP ON. THE SCENE AT THIS TIME BAFFLES DESCRIPTION.
  • THREE STRANDS OF COLORS WERE WAVING ON THE FORT. JUST BENEATH THEM THE MEN WERE CLINGING TO THE SIDES OF THE PARAPETS AND SHOOTING OVER AS THE MEN IN THE DITCH LOADED THEIR GUNS AND PASSED THEM UP.
  • THE ENEMY’S GUNS WERE WITHIN TEN FEET OF OUR HEADS, AND WHEN A BALL STRUCK A MAN, IT WAS ALMOST SURE DEATH, OVER HE WOULD GO BACKWARDS INTO THE MUD AND WATER, IN THE DITCH BENEATH.
  • SUCH A RACKET CANNOT BE DESCRIBED. THE RATTLE OF MUSKETRY, ROAR OF ARTILLERY, CRASH OF BURSTING SHELLS, THE WHISH OF BULLETS, OFFICERS GIVING ORDERS AND SWEARING. THEN YELLING, CURSING, GROANING, PRAYING, AND IN SHORT ALL THE NOISES OF THE WORLD SEEMED TO BE CONTRACTED INTO THE VICINITY OF THAT FORT.
  • Guns from works in rear of this work added their voices to the general hubbub, but we cared little for them as they dared not fire on us for fear of killing more of their own men.
  • Fifteen minutes had thus passed, and we were still on the parapets. The enemy seemingly as strong as ever, and THE WATER IN THE DITCH WAS GRADUALLY TURNING THE COLOR OF WINE.
  • GHOSTLY FACES LOOKED UP OUT OF THE MUD AND WATER WITH THAT PECULIAR EXPRESSION WORN ONLY BY MEN WHO ARE KILLED IN SUCH A TERRIBLE STRUGGLE AS THIS.
  • Glancing to the left, I saw one of Foster’s Brigade coming up in splendid order, though they strewed their path with dead. Again turning to the work in hand, I lost sight of them, but they were soon with us, enabling us to throw men to the rear of the fort.
  • THIS PART OF THE FORT WAS STOCKADED AND LOOP HOLES PIERCED FOR MUSKETRY. OUR MEN WOULD SHOOT IN AND THE REBS SHOOT OUT THROUGH THE SAME HOLES.
  • MEANWHILE THE ENEMY COMMENCED THROWING CANNON BALLS, ETC., OVER THE PARAPETS ONTO THE HEADS OF THE MEN IN THE DITCH. Mortals could not stand that.
  • THE MEN MADE A RUSH, GAINED THE TOP OF THE PARAPET, FIRED A VOLLEY, A FEW THRUSTS WITH BAYONETS, A FEW BLOWS WITH MUSKETS, AND THE MEN WHO HAD DEFENDED THE PLACE SO DESPERATELY THREW DOWN THEIR ARMS AND THE FORT WAS OURS.
  • THERE WERE 57 DEAD REBELS INSIDE THE FORT. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY SURRENDERED. NOT A MAN OF THE GARRISON ESCAPED TO TELL THE STORY TO GEN. LEE.
  • I DON’T KNOW HOW MANY OF OUR MEN WERE KILLED, BUT I SAW MANY IN THE DITCH AND AROUND THE FORT. THEY DID NOT LIVE TO REAP THE REWARD THEIR HEROISM HAD EARNED. YET THEY WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN. WE BURIED THEM WHERE THEY FELL. TENDERLY, SORROWFULLY, AND TODAY THE OLD FLAG WAVES OVER THEIR GRAVES. NEVER AGAIN TO BE LOWERED BY TRAITOR HANDS. “LET IT SILENTLY SWEEP WITH ITS GORGEOUS FOLD O’ER THE HEART ASLEEP, ON THE LIPS THAT ARE COLD.”  C. G. BLAKE

A most remarkable museum piece.

#L5-8-65MA – Price $1,995

























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