The Battle of Gaines’ Mill, Va. – The Asst. Surgeon of the 11th Mississippi Infantry Writes Home on Colorful Captured Union Stationery Showing Lincoln & McClellan on Horseback – “OUR REGT. FOUGHT WITH THAT DESPERATION CHARACTERIZING MISSISSIPPIANS FIGHTING FOR ALL THAT THEY HOLD DEAR ON EARTH.”
This 4-page letter in nice dark ink is written by Dr. William B. Shields, Company E of the 11th Mississippi Infantry. The letter is headed, “Near McClellan Head Quarters June 29th /62”. WRITTEN AT THE TOP OF VIGNETTE SHOWING LINCOLN AND MCCLELLAN REVIEWING THE TROOPS: “MCCLELLAN REVIEWING A YANKEE REGIMENT WHICH WE HAVE WHIPPED.” Here is the content:
- MY DEAR BONNIE, I WRITE YOU ON PAPER TAKEN FROM A YANKEE CAMP.
- WE ARE NOW RESTING FROM A BLOODY AND DESPERATELY CONTINUAL BATTLE IN WHICH OUR BRAVE FORCES CAME OUT VICTORIOUS BUT WITH HEAVY LOSS, BUT NOT ONE FROM THE LOSS OF THE ENEMY.
- OUR REGT. FOUGHT WITH THAT DESPERATION CHARACTERIZING MISSISSIPPIANS FIGHTING FOR ALL THAT THEY HOLD DEAR ON EARTH.
- You will see no doubt mention made of their gallantry by our General [Robert E. Lee], who has complimented us already. We were first in their fortifications, first in their Batteries.
- AFTER MANY TROOPS HAD BEEN REPULSED BY THEM, I CAME OUT ALL SAFE WITH EXCEPTION I WAS SO IMPRUDENT AS TO LUG A GRAPE SHOT. I WAS RESTING WITH MY ELBOW ON A PINE SAPLING AND MY HAND ON THE SIDE OF MY HEAD WHEN A GRAPE CAME WHIPPING ALONG AND CUT THE SAPLING IN HALF, STRIKING THE STOCK OF MY PISTOL AND MY GAME BAG IN WHICH I HAVE MY LINT AND BANDAGES, CUTTING MY BREATH FROM ME FOR A SHORT TIME AND FALLING WITHOUT FURTHER HARMING IN MY GAME BAG WHERE I FOUND IT NEXT MORNING. I SHALL PRESERVE IT AS A RELIC, AND SHOW IT TO YOU AFTER THE WAR OR SEND IT TO YOU THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY.
- We will without a doubt destroy the great Yankee Army soon. It will be a blow from which they can never recover.
- It will also be the cause of their driving these polluted rogues from our beloved Miss. home.
- I do not think judging from the signs of the times that the war will last much longer, but we shall fight them as if we expected it to last ten years.
- We will attack them again shortly and sweep the young Napoleon’s Army (as the Yankee’s call him) from the field like a destroying avalanche. [Talking about McClellan]
- Our troops are very cheerful. They only need a little rest to be eager for the fray. Bonnie, why cannot I hear from you all? It has been now four months and a half since I heard directly from you, but I know you have written and letters have miscarried. What has become of Tom? I have not heard from him either. I suppose you are indulging in pleasant excursion on the Butler hackie.
- How I wish I was there to join you. I am getting very tired of this unnatural war. I want to return to the scenes of peace and quiet, yet if necessary, I will pass the remaining days of my life surrounded by bloody strife, in order that those whom I love may enjoy the happiness of sweet freedom after I am gone.
- When did you see Mitch? Write soon and direct your letters to Richmond, to 11th Regt. Miss. Vols., Gen. Whiting’s Brigade, and it will certainly reach me. Write long letters and short, such things as would interest me, things confined to home. My love to all. I remain your affectionate Brother, W. B. Shields. P.S. I enclose this in a Yankee envelope with the eagle decapitated and his wings cut off. W. B. S.
A fine Confederate battle letter.
#L6-29-62MS – Price $895