from The Southbridge Journal, May 20, 1862 , (Volume 2 # 15), 
From Correspondent of the Journal
From The Fifteenth Regiment

Near New Kent Court House, Va.
May 11, 1862

Mr. Editor:  After being in front of Yorktown so long, doing the arduous duties required of us in the damp swamp, and as we take pen in hand, the thought naturally arises in our minds, what are the thoughts, desires, and anxieties of our friends?  But the spell has been broken by an answer by telegraph to them, of the evacuation and the driving of the enemy from the vicinity of Yorktown , far in advance of us.  Although we have passed through various hardships for the past four weeks, we feel that we have been doubly paid for our patience and endurance, in the assurance that what we have done under the guidance of General  McClellan has been well done.  Surely the past week has been a favorable one for us, and is enough to revive and cheer us on in the good cause before us; and our friends may rest assured  that the present thoughts of the soldier is to meet the foe and conquer them.

Since the last writing, the duties have been the same with us before Yorktown , until the 3d inst., when the enemy opened their battery in good earnest, and kept up their fire during the first part of the night, which was promptly answered by our side. We thought the siege had actually commenced; but judge of our surprise, when this Brigade took their turn to go and do picket  duty, to find that the enemy had left their strong position, and the Nineteenth Massachusetts Regiment already in the entrenchments, which had stood, in their almost impregnable position, before our eyes.

The Fifteenth went over with colors flying, and if need be, to help them hold the place; but after getting within a short distance of the Fort, we received orders to return to camp.  Major Kimball, who is now in command of the Regiment, said it would not be best to hurry about going into the rebel works as there was not much there but old iron.  So we willingly returned to camp, packed our knapsacks, and took down our tents, packet them on our backs, and took a last view of the camp that had been our home for the last three weeks; and it will be to us a matter of interest in our future days.

We took up our line of march, and passed through the formidable works about eight o’clock the same morning, and as we passed we beheld with wonder the preparations that had been made or defence.  It was a common remark among us, that they should evacuate such strong works. We encamped for the day and night in a large field.  We could see the effect of our shells and balls had on their works and barracks.  The pieces of shells lay in all directions on the ground. We found a number of spots of blood, showing that our guns took good aim.

On Monday we took up our line of march to Yorktown Plains.  Although it was but a short distance, we found the roads in very bad condition, and muddy to travel over.  In our forward movements we found whole camps deserted; all the tents were left standing, their handkerchiefs , blankets, water pails, coffee pots, tin plates and dippers, barrels, buckets and bags full of flour, also Indian meal and other things, which I cannot enumerate here.

In taking their tents for our own use, we found some that had inscriptions not very complimentary  to us.   The style of language adopted by them, did not indicate that they had seen the inside of a meeting house, neither would you think they had been taught to respect the principles laid down in the word of God.  One tent which our boys inhabited for the night, had a full length portrait of Abraham Lincoln, not a very good likeness of him, I must confess; the inscription that was beneath the same was ridiculous . Quite a number of tents were marked with no compliments to the  Yankees.  we were told to prepare ourselves for the coming fate that awaits us.  It is now supposed that they had reference to the torpedoes which had been placed on the side of the roads, and around and in their works   to destroy us.  But there was so much caution in the Yankee boys, they were not caught in the trap, very badly, although some few men were killed by their infernal machines.

We encamped on the Plains, in front of the inner forts, until Monday, at 4 P. M., at which time we were ordered forward into regimental line, and waited for the troops to pass.  Although it was raining very hard, I can assure you t was a noble sight to witness the passing of infantry, artillery and cavalry in their different lines.  We took our position in marching line during the night, and went down near the boat landing, and found that the transports were not ready.  We returned to camp again to wait till the next day.  We laid down in our wet cloths to rest for the night.  We arose in the morning and improved the time by drying our cloths.  On Tuesday, at 4 P. M., we received orders to proceed to the landing again.  We waited at the landing till nearly midnight, until Sedgewick’s Division got aboard.

The Fifteenth packed themselves away as best they could, on the steamboat John Morris; and we did pack, for we took up every available space  that was to be had, in the passage ways, on the upper deck, and on all parts of the craft.  On Wednesday, at daylight,  the different transports started, and the whole of the fortifications could be seen very plainly, both on the Yorktown side, and the village of Gloucester , with the fleet of steamboats, gunboats and vessels in the stream, a beautiful view. We arrived opposite West Point at 10 A. M., the same day.

While our officers were making arrangements to get us ashore, our four bands favored us with some excellent music.  We soon found that the enemy were in force, and our boys who landed the night before, had met the enemy, and were having a sharp fight at the edge of the woods,  We could distinctly see the lines of some of our men, who soon disappeared in the woods in pursuit of the rebels.  It made the boys very anxious to get on shore and help them.  We landed in boats, about one company in each boat, and soon got enough to form into line  In the meantime , our gunboats, with their well directed fire, soon drove the rebels from their hiding places, and the boys in Gen. Franklin’s Division gave them a little cold steel, which sent them in all directions.  We lost some men in the action.  We encamped near the landing on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  In the afternoon we took up our line of march, forty thousand strong, and marched two miles.

Our advance is reported to be five miles in front of us.  They are now within sixteen miles of Richmond , and it is very probable, that you will hear from us soon, as being in the city of Richmond.  Our scouts have got a lot of cattle for us, and some of the boys are improving their time in washing their garments, and others are fishing in the river.

An official order announcing the following changes and transfers in our regiment, was read last night, at 5 P.M.: Quartermaster Storer has been promoted as aid to brigadier General Devens, and has left us to take that position.  His urbane manner and pleasant countenance has endeared him to us.  We feel the loss of him, knowing how well he has tried to feed and take care of us, and we wish him success in his new position, for he will deserve it. Lieutenant Eager fills the place for the present.  Captain Philbrick of Co. H, is promoted to Major, and Major Kimball is promoted from Major to Lieutenant Colonel, which appears to be satisfactory to all in the regiment.



15th Massachusetts VI