63rd Pennsylvania Battle of Fair Oaks Letter by J. W. Given, Possibly the Sutler of the 63rd – 8 Pages of Great Content

This 8-page letter is written in pencil.  9 years ago Brian Green sold this letter for $595.  And from content, it’s worth every penny.  However, we cannot find J. W. Given in the roster of the 63rd Pa.  This is probably because he was the 63rd’s SUTLER.  In the body of the letter, he states, “I have my shop under that shade of a large tree & we have plenty of good water here.”  Anyway, enjoy the content and our price is $295. 

  • Bottom Bridge June 1st, ’62.  Dear Wife & Children, I have just returned here from Brigade qrs. where I had been from Tuesday last, returning yesterday morning after picking a mess of strawberries.
  • I opened my kit & done some little tasting. About noon a stir arose in camp, the battle having opened.
  • Our Brigade was hurried and some 7 miles to the scene of action & at once engaged. A General account of which you will have ere this reaches you.
  • About dark some of the wounded returned to camp. John Hays was the first of Co. B. with a slight wound in the wrist. Myself & some others started toward the scene of suffering & death, hoping to be able to afford some assistance or relief to the suffering.
  • Had not went out a mile until we entered a large mansion used as a Hospital & while looking round a large room for a familiar face, a familiar voice uttered my name at the far end of the room. Hunkered on the floor sat my friend John Doyle. His face covered with a happy smile as I approached him, and on inquiring soon found he had received a buck shot in the right wrist. There being but one surgeon there, the prospect of getting his services was poor while there were many other worse cases waiting, so I took him to camp where we dressed it with cold water & bandages as best we could. I remained with him until morning.
  • After breakfast he started in quest of a doctor to extract the shot. Lieut. Maynard came in the morning wounded in left shoulder by a mini ball, but not dangerous. Andrew Ryan had one finger shot off. Wm. Clark was struck on the side of the neck by a piece of a shell so as to knock him senseless for some time, but did not more than break the skin. Wm. Draher is also reported wounded but was not in when I left camp, but I will not close this until I hear further.
  • It can now be said that the 63rd have been tried & proven. Genl. Jameson had two horses killed under him. Col. Hays had one killed & one wounded. Lieut. Col. Morgan is dangerously wounded. Capt. Kirkwood had command of the Regt. during part of the engagement.
  • The battle was renewed this morning at a most furious rate & still raging, but the Rebels are getting the worst of it today, & the noise is becoming more & more indistinct.
  • Many good officers & brave men have fallen in the last 24 hours. None of our Sharps boys were killed or mortally wounded, so far as I know yet. John T. Williams & Evans were reported all safe this morning, but Lieut. Maynard told me this morning he never wanted to be among braver men than those of Co. B.
  • Each man of which that escaped the Rebel balls stood his ground until he had discharged his 60 rounds of ammunition, the amount each one had to take with him into the engagement.
  • Lieut. Taylor was not able to be out. Tuesday morning the teams & Mechanics are still laying at Bottom Bridge. The Rebels were driven back yesterday. Sharp firing is heard this morning in the distance.
  • Lieut. Maynard started to go to his mother’s yesterday. Our Regt. now is 6 or 7 miles in advance of us.
  • Wm. Clark is on guard duty with our teams. He had his canteen and haversack shot off him in the battle on Saturday. After his 60 rounds of cartridge was done, he took a supply from a dead man & fired some 15 more. Others did the same when their ammunition run out.
  • Our Brigade was not in action yesterday or Sunday. They could not get at our dead & the wounded on the field till yesterday. Some of the wounded were still alive.
  • The report of Wm. Draher being wounded is contradicted. I know of no others of our boys being hurt than those already named. But there is most literally a great deal of hard fighting to be done yet before we enter Richmond.
  • We will be kept here until Richmond taken & I may not have much intercourse with our boys until that event. I trust God will speedily devise some means of terminating this Work of Destruction & Death.
  • It can’t last long at this rate & it cannot close a day too soon. We would like to be home now soon. I dreamed last night of meeting you, Dear Wife, but like on several former occasions had but little conversation until we were separated. But I trust it will not be thus when in reality I hope we will be allowed to see each other soon without being suddenly and unpleasantly separated, & may find Heaven still overshadow us. I have had no letter from you since Sunday a week ago, though there may be one or more about for me now. We are so scattered. The weather is becoming warm & we have had some heavy rains with thunder & lightning. I have my shop under that shade of a large tree & we have plenty of good water here.
  • Give my love to all the old friends. I know we are not forgotten by them these trying times. Write soon & direct as before. All is well as it leaves me. I remain, dear wife & children, your anxious Husband & Father as ever. J. W. Given  P. S. The brick is a red chip, is of a window sill of the house used by Genl. Lafayette at his head quarters at Yorktown. Time of the late war with England in 1812.

#L6-1-62PA – Price $295

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