7th Michigan Infantry – Corpl. Cyril H. Tyler Describes the Retreat During the Seven Days Battles & Describes the Battle of White Oak Swamp Which Occurred on June 30th, 1862 – “I NEVER SAW THE AIR QUITE SO FULL OF LEAD AS IT WAS FOR A WHILE AT THAT PLACE.”
This 4 page letter in nice dark ink is written on patriotic stationery showing a red, white and blue Union shield and portrait of George Washington. Cyril H. Tyler was 20 years old when he was mustered into Co. I, 7th Regiment Michigan Infantry, on August 22nd, 1861. He was promoted to Corporal on March 1st, 1862 and to Sergeant on September 24th, 1863. The letter is headed, “Harrisons Mills, Va., July 20th, 1862”. Here is the content:
- Dear Father, I received your letter of the 13th inst. and was glad to hear from you, it, the first letter that I have got from home in some time & this is the first I have been able to write. I have (been) sick ever since the retreat from near Richmond & today is the first that I have done any duty since the second of July.
- The fourth was a hard day for me. I had a bad headache & had just had the ague & our batteries in every direction commenced. It was the fastest firing I ever heard…
- Close by our camp they had some heavy brass howitzers & when they shot them, it seemed as though my top knot would fly off, but I made out to get along, but I was glad when they got through firing.
- I have got sick of the sound of cannon, especially when the Rebels point the guns. We laid in an open field for three hours one day & dodged shells until I got decently sick of it, but I wish you had something of an idea how much government property was lost on that retreat.
- FOR TWO DAYS BEFORE THE RETREAT BEGAN, THERE WAS SOME (OF) THE HARDEST FIGHTING DONE THAT HAS BEEN DONE IN THIS WAR. WE COULD HEAR A HEAVY CANNONADING FOR TWO DAYS & THE SECOND DAY IN THE AFTERNOON WE SAW BY THE FIRING THAT OUR MEN WERE LOSING GROUND & THE NEXT DAY WE SCRATCHED GRAVEL FOR THE REAR.
- We were the last to leave the breastworks. For three days our Corps covered the retreat of the Army, but our Regt. did not come freed of the enemy until after we crossed WHITE OAK SWAMP & THERE WE HAD THE HARDEST BATTLE WE HAVE BEEN IN YET.
- We got a cross fire from two Rebel Regts. & we stood it for a while & then broke & rallied three different times & I NEVER SAW THE AIR QUITE SO FULL OF LEAD AS IT WAS FOR A WHILE AT THAT PLACE.
- We only had 7 companies in the action, 225 men in all & we lost 16 killed, 51 wounded, & 30 missing. Our company only had 20 men when we went in & we came out with only 11.
- That fight took the wire edge off some of us chaps & I don’t hear any one wish to see another such a time. Our wounded was all but 2 taken prisoners.
- I must stop for the present. Don’t you let Solon enlist. Neither enlist yourself for soldiering is a hard road to travel. I sent you $40.00 by express & $11.00 by mail just before the retreat & that I sent by mail I guess was lost for lots of the mail was destroyed down by the White House. Good bye. From Your Son, Cyril H. Tyler
Condition is fine. The 7th Michigan Infantry was a hard fought regiment, fighting in all the major battles of the Army of the Potomac. A great 7th Michigan letter.
#L7-20-62 MI – Price $450