Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Saturday, May 14th 1864

I received a letter from Clara to day.  They have all been sick since Eddie’s death.
George writes to John Kuntz that he has just received a letter stating that his twin brother William was killed in a fight near Little Rock.

The battle of Tuesday last May 10” is said to have been one of the bloodiest of the war -- a drawn battle -- in which our loss is estimated at from 7,000 to 10,000 men.  On the next day (Wednesday), Lee was driven from his fortifications, & many prisoners were taken, it is said over 4,000.  There had been terrible fighting in the Wilderness of Virginia for more than a week but the battle of the 11th resulted in a glorious victory won by our soldiers & Lee is retreating South of Spotsylvania.  May Rufus be kept safely.

Peggy's comments:

Rufus wrote from the line of battle near Spottsylvania Court House on May 14 at 11 a.m. to his wife Mary Gates Dawes:

By the blessing of God I am still alive.  We have continued fighting and hardship since I wrote two days ago, beyond what I can now describe.  We charged upon the enemy's rifle pits again on Thursday, and were as usual driven back.  Thursday night, May 12th, we stood in mud over my boot tops, firing all night.  Yesterday, --13th,--we were under fire all day, and last night we marched all night.  I am troubled very much lest I have been reported killed in the New York papers.  The report was extensively circulated by one of my men.  I can never tell if I live through it, the sufferings of this campaign.  The army has earned the lasting gratitude of the people.  Do not give me up if you see me reported killed.  Such things are often mistakes.  The end is not yet, though, and I cannot avoid, my dear wife, saying that the probabilities of coming out safely are strongly against me.  If we may only finish this horrible business here, our lives are of poor moment in comparison.  The loss of my regiment now amounts to over one hundred and fifty men killed and wounded, many of our best and truest. 

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