22ndMass / USSC Boston Branch
"Here's a yellow sash for six feet of Virginia soil..."
Captain John F. Dunning, 22nd MVI, Co. D
Woburn Weekly Budget - April 18, 1862
Headquarters 22d Reg. Mass. Vols.
Near Yorktown, Va.
April 18, 1862
I closed my last hastily, our company having just fell in to go on picket. There were four companies from the 22d Mass., and an equal number from the 13th N.Y. We marched out and entered the woods where we were firsted fired at by the rebels on the previous Saturday. In this palce is a little enclosuse of rails in which are buried, C. L. Lord, aged 31, and E. N. Lewis, aged 24, both members of Martin's 3d Mass. Battery, who were killed in the fight. Lord and Lewis married sisters, and lived in the same house in Charlestown, Mass. Their friends are coming on to remove the bodies, that they may not be subject to the tender mercies of the rebel resurrectionists. Entering the woods, we proceeded about a quarter of a mile to a ravine which is headquarters to our picket reserves. Relieving the old picket, our guard was stationed, and we sat down to watch and wait. The rebels soon opened on one of our batteries which was stationed in front of us, and for an hour or two the shells kept popping at intervals, and were replied to by the battery. About 3 o'clock, word came to us that the rebels had come out of the fort and were deployed across the field toward the woods for the purpose of driving the pickets in. We fell in at once, and deploying through the woods prepared to support the pickets. The attack commenced on the right, and was replied to in spirit by the 13th N.Y., who not only stood their ground, but succeeded in driving them back, killing several. Our men were unhurt. After a short lull, the storm broke out anew, but this time on the left of the line. This time a large body of rebels came out and fired at the picket which was posted in a peach orchard which extended from the woods across to the road, the guns of the fort at the same time playing upon the barn which was occupied by sharpshooters. This time the rebels were well met, for the 63rd Pennsylvania which supported the left, gave them a volley as they came up, and then charging them, drove them back into their fortifications. There was some random firing until dark, and the rifle balls whistling through the branches and shells puffing over our heads, did not fail to remind us that we were near enemies. It was thought that the skirmish of the afternoon was only to learn our position, preparatory to a night attack, and we laid on our arms all night, but nothing occured during the night which was one of uncommon brilliancy. During the evening, a band in one of the forts palyed "Dixie" and other Southern airs, and when the moon went down the reveille was beat, to wake up the rebels, but they did not come out, and we had no further trouble.
Mortars on Wormsley Creek - Near Camp of 22d Mass
We learned last week that Chas. S. Dean had died, and his body gone home in charge of P. W. Gorham. When we started from Hall's Hill, Dean started with us, but was unable to march, and after marching about a mile he was ordered back to camp, much to his disappontment. When the camp was removed, being unable to follow us, he went to the hospital in Georgetown. While with us, he was subject to pleurisy and suffered considerably at times, but he was always willing to do his duties, which he performed to the extent of his ability.
On Sunday I took a stroll in te direction of Yorktown Ship Point. On the way we came across a deserted rebel camp. It is composed of wooden barracks, little log houses, plastered with mud, and shingled roofs. They appeared very comfortable, and are now occupied by federal surgeons. We passed four rebel earthworks, one of them was called Fort Grafton, and is quite strongl built, with a deep ditch filled with water around it. It is now occupied by the 1st Regular Artillery. We found Hooker's division encamped near the point, and in it saw the Woburn boys in the 1st and 11th Mass. regiments. The 6th N.Y. battery is also there, in which is another Woburn delegation. Our town is pretty well represented on the peninsula just now, and it seems like home to see the familiar faces. All along the route were to be seen warlike preparations. Artillery, engineers, cavalry, and infantry, all busy, all working for a purpose. Our balloon goes up about once a day, and the rebels send up a nondescript affair, probably for a signal, as it is not a balloon, thoug it looks some like one.
Monday night, our forces threw across a creek near our encampment, a pontoon bridge. Close by it are two wooden bridges built by our troops, the lumber for which is furnished by Belger's Mill, which is being turned out by the soldiers, undera lieutenant of the 2d Maine, who is running the mill.
Monday afternoon, a member of the 18th Mass. while cleaning his gun, accidently shot a soldier in the 62d Pennsylvania through the head, killing him instantly.
Same afternoon there was an engagement on York river, between our gunboats and the rebel batteries, but with what result I could not learn. It was in sight of our camp, and was witnessed by a large part of our forces.
Our camp is on Wormsley Creek, not far from the York river. The north fort of the rebels (the one that engaged our pickets), is almost constatntly firing at our gunboats, and can on occaison reach us. We have been hard at work making bridges and digging landings for pontoon bridges. We now have two bridges of pine logs and planks which were turned out at Belger's Mill. The rebels left us a prize in this mill, as it is large, and has a good steam engine to drive saws. There are three pontoon bridges, so that we can cross the creek by five routes all within a few rods of each other. About dark on Wednesday evening the enemy threw a couple of shots into camp. One of the balls was nearly spent, and it was picked up by a member of the regiment.
Heavy firing was heard all day Wednesday in the direction of the south fort, and just after dark our regiment was ordered into line. We were drawn up in a column near headquarters, and there waited, momentarily expecting to be ordered to support our forces in front of the fort. We were sent back to quarters about midnight, and though firing was kept at intervals all night we were not called out again. There are rumors about the fights which are had along th line, every day, but we know, certainly, of nothing but what happens to us. Last night at midnight we were again ordered out, as there appeared to be an engagement going on. We remained under arms for about an hour and were dismissed for the second time without a fight. Great preparations are making for the taking of Yorktown, and it must fall. There are men enough here, and our generals are confident that they will be able to take the place very soon after acive operations commence. It is very exciting, this waiting for a fight, and all day and night to, we hear the whizzing of shot and booming of guns. As yet, not much has been effected, our forces only replying to the enemy, when attacked, and waiting for the right time to strike.
This is truly a beautiful section of the country, and seems to have been rightly named "the garden of Virginia". The soil is rich and very fertile. Great quantities of fruit have been raised here,and the peach trees, of which there are a great number, promise an abundant crop. In one field alone there are forty acres planted with peach trees. The weather is warm and pleasant and has been for a week, which has been very favorable to our operations. There is no telling when the fight will commence, but when it does it will be a hard one.
John Lord Parker