#L6-27-64MA

2nd Mass. Cav. – Great Description of Mosby’s Raids & Wilderness Dead



This four-page letter written in ink dated June 27th, 1864 is written by William W. Parker of the 2nd Mass. Cavalry. Parker is pictured on the Civil War Database. The letter is in fine condition and comes with its original stamped envelope. Parker begins by giving details of a raid by Confederate Colonel John S. Mosby and his partisan rangers, also his observations while picking up the wounded after the battle of the Wilderness, an incredible description of a soldier’s coffin being struck by lightning, and the death of Col. Delaney’s son.

• “Mosby is outside with two or three hundred men & one 12 pounder. The other day he gobbled a party of 4o men of the 16th N. York. They had passed a house a few minutes before near Centreville & were stopping to feed. Mosby came on their heels learned that they had just passed. He struck them as the horses were unbridled & every man had an armful of hay & the whole lot was bagged. The Lieut. ought to be disgraced for his carelessness – still the men of the 16th won’t fight. Mosby has a great advantage – The is hard put his men scatter all over the country & collect next day if they please. We can’t play that game. It wouldn’t be so easy to get together again.”

• “We had a very interesting raid a couple of weeks ago. We went with a number of ambulances to the Wilderness to bring off the wounded.  We forded the Rappahannock at U.S. Ford, took a wide road south till we reached Chancellorsville. This extensive town consists of the ruins of one brick tavern at the crossing of two large roads… Everywhere the road was strewn with old knapsacks & all sorts of soldiers gear.”

• “Soon we came to the town of Wilderness a deserted tavern – strange enough the panes of the windows all left – nothing else I think… Evidences of the fight began to thicken here & there a shell, a skull from the fight of a year ago, plenty of dead horses, some of them furnished shoes for our live ones.  Then we came to the battle ground a thick wood.  The Rebs had it fearfully their own way as far as position is concerned.  They drew lines of rifle pits & as they were driven from one would retreat to the next. I am told that one regt. or brigade found themselves flanked & retreated. They met Gen. Grant who asked where they were going they told him. He told them they might go back but all communications were cut off you have got to fight it out sometime. It was desperate fighting. The Rebs the Yanks lay side by side as they fell. The sun has dried the bodies. Death is not attractive or does not leave a pleasant expression on the countenance when caused by a bullet. We brought off 4o odd wounded but it was just our luck to be too late. The Rebs had been there two or three days before. Had we happened to hit them we would have bagged 75 ambulances -too men & loo wounded. It must have been a terribly hard ride for the poor fellows to Alexandria. I should like to have taken them to Aquia Creek & send them by water. One poor fellow died on the road.”

• “The lightning struck the conductor on the church. On the steps the body of one of the 16th N.Y.  was lying in a coffin ready for burial. It shattered the coffin to fragments, threw the body out & disfigured it.”

• “If Conway should be too cool for you come & make me a visit. It is very easy to get a pass at Washington. I will find you a horse & there are very pleasant roads through the woods & only a few guerillas. The latter are mean fellows. They hide in the bushes & give a fellow no chance. One of them French Delaney who was recently shot was a son of Col. Delaney of our army. Our camp is near his old home. French arrested his father & sent him to Richmond. When shot he rode a mile & walk 1/4 mile although mortally wounded, told the doctor if he saw his father to give him his warmest regards & tell him that he had gave up the sport. This guerilla warfare is the meanest imaginable. They are for plunder – Lie in wait & come in unawares – Won’t fight fair & square. They can do as they please of course – but it would be better to fight Indians for then one takes no prisoners. Now if we catch a notorious character he goes to the old capitol for a few months & then takes the oath or is exchanged & goes at it again.”

#L6-27-64MA – Price $995

















Full Transcription:

Falls Church June 27, 1864

Dear Kuhn,

It was a little after six in the morning of a day which gives assurance of being fearfully hot. In a few hours I am on court martial & we assemble at this hour to avoid the heat. As prisoners & witnesses have not arrived I take the pleasure of writing to you. We are having a mighty still time here far from the war. Mosby is outside with two or three hundred men & one 12 pounder. The other day he gobbled a party of 40 men of the 16th N. York. They had passed a house a few minutes before near Centreville & were stopping to feed. Mosby came on their heels learned that they had just passed. He struck them as the horses were unbridled & every man had an armful of hay & the whole lot was bagged. The Lieut. ought to be disgraced for his carelessness – still the men of the 16th won’t fight. Mosby has a great advantage – if he is hard put his men scatter all over the country & collect next day if they please. We can’t play that game. It wouldn’t be so easy to get together again. We had a very interesting raid a couple of weeks ago. We went with a number of ambulances to the Wilderness to bring off the wounded. We forded the Rappahannock at U.S. Ford, took a wide road south till we reached Chancellorsville. This extensive town consists of the ruins of one brick tavern at the crossing of two large roads. We turned to the right. Everywhere the road was strewn with old knapsacks & all sorts of soldiers gear. Soon we came to the town of Wilderness a deserted tavern – strange enough the panes of the windows all left – nothing else I think. There was one home in the field also. Evidences of the fight began to thicken here & there a shell, a skull from the fight of a year ago, plenty of dead horses, some of them furnished shoes for our live ones. Then we came to the battle ground a thick wood. The Rebs had it fearfully their own way as far as position is concerned. They drew lines of rifle pits & as they were driven from one would retreat to the next. I am told that one regt. or brigade found themselves flanked & retreated. They met Gen. Grant who asked where they were going they told him. He told them they might go back but all communications were cut off, you have got to fight it out sometime. It was desperate fighting. The Rebs & the Yanks lay side by side as they fell. The sun has dried the bodies. Death is not attractive or does not leave a pleasant expression on the countenance when caused by a bullet. We brought off 4o odd wounded but it was just our luck to be too late. The Rebs had been there two or three days before. Had we happened to hit them we would have bagged 75 ambulances – loo men & loo wounded. It must have been a terribly hard ride for the poor fellows to Alexandria. I should like to have taken them to Aquia Creek & send them by water. One poor fellow died on the road.

I presume you will have a fine time at the mountains. Write me an account of the fine times. It is very dull here. No fighting or excitement.

I wish you would send me some also of my friends the store – Miss Fanny McGregor & any others you think of Boston news is very welcome.

It is terribly hot this morning & we have a fine room with doors & windows open. What must it be in the field. I hear that sunstroke is very common. We had a heavy shower last night. The lightning struck the conductor on the church. On the steps the body of one of the 16th N.Y. was lying in a coffin ready for burial. It shattered the coffin to fragments, threw the body out & disfigured it.

If Conway should be too coal for you come & make me a visit. It is very easy to get a pass at Washington. I wilt find you a horse & there are very pleasant roads through the woods & only a few guerillas. The latter are mean fellows. They hide in the bushes & give a fellow no chance. One of them French Delaney who was recently shot was a son of Col. Delaney of our army. Our camp is near his old home. French arrested his father & sent him to Richmond. When shot he rode a mile & walk 1/4 mile although mortally wounded, told the doctor if he saw his father to give him his warmest regards & tell him that he had gave up the sport. This guerilla warfare is the meanest imaginable. They are for plunder – Lie in wait & come in unawares – Won’t fight fair & square. They can do as they please of course – but it would be better to fight Indians for then one takes no prisoners. Now if we catch a notorious character he goes to the old capitol for a few months & then takes the oath or is exchanged & goes at it again.

Please give my regard to your father & mother & sister & believe me.

Yours sincerely,
Wm. W. Parker
1st Lt. Co. H. 2 Mass. Cav.
Via Washington

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