Woburn Weekly Budget - June 11, 1862
Headquarters 22d Reg. Mass. Vols.
Gaines Mills, Va.
June 11, 1862
But little has transpired during the past week in which our regiment has taken part. The weather has been a little more like that to which we are accustomed at home, cool most of the time. We have had rain every day, sometimes accompanied with thunder, but for the most part a cold rain from the northeast. It generally comes on at night but we don't mind it much, as when there is no rain the dew is as heavy as a shower. On the whole the climate here is not very different from that of New England, though a contrary opinion prevails at home. The warm weather here is very oppressive I am told, but it don't last long; that is it is not hot for anytime without a shower or a cold spell, and nights are always cold. I am writing this, sitting in front of my tent with my overcoat on, and find it not uncomfortable.
Last week we held ourselves in readiness to march at a moments notice, having our knapsacks packed, our haversacks full, and ready to start at the word; we were not called out however, and now we are not so particular, as it begins to look as if we might stay here some time. Saturday morning, Cos. A, F and D were ordered to get ready for fatigue duty: we need not take blankets, and only our noon ration. We fell into line, and with what is left of the 25th New York, under Capt. Sampson of Co. A, marched down the Chickahominy meadows, and relieved the 5th New York. We then learned for the first time that we were on picket guard instead of fatigue as we had supposed. There were pontoon bridges at this point across the Chickahominy, and it was our duty to picket these bridges. A road in former times crossed the river at this point, but the bridge was either destroyed or useless, for our pontoons do the work now. Across this bridge, and along the road on the other side, our pickets were posted. The rebel pickets were in sight, and near enough to talk to our outposts. The men on both sides have orders not to fire on each other, their business being to prevent the approach of an enemy, and if the pickets should advance from ther posts the other side would at once fire. We had a battery stationed near our reserve, and about dusk, just before they were releived by another battery, they threw a shell into the rebel camp. No reply was given until after dark, and then we found out that our rebel neighbors had got a pretty accurate range on our bridge. Our company went on post at 9 o'clock and were not relived until after 4 next morning, during all which time the men had to remain on their posts constantly watching, and in momentary anticipation of some movement of the enemy. A rebel battery began throwing conical shot at us, soon after we went on post, and continued the practice about three times an hour until daylight. Some of the shots came pretty close, quite near enough, and had they been shells we would not have got off so easy. The road leads through the swamp, and on either side is water and mud; most of the shots struck in the mud, a little short, but the boys were pretty well splattered with water and slime. The only safe way was to lie flat when the flash was seen, and there was need of lying pretty flat too, for the range was so low that a shot would skim across the road but a foot or two above the ground, and a man on his feet would hardly be able to dodge them. It was the hardest picket we have done, the men being obliged to be on the alert the whole time, and not knowing but this constant canonading was to cover some movement of the rebels. We were releived next morning by a strong force from teh 2d brigade. Saturday afternoon we had a severe thunderstorm, and those men on post had a very uncomfortable time. Towards night a squad of men were sent to camp for our overcoats, and as it had been our good fortune to be in reserve during the shower, where we were sheltered, we managed to keep tolarably warm during the night.
While we were on picket, Timothy Murray, of our company, shot himself through the hand. The ball entered about the center of his palm, and the whole middle finger had to be amputated, the bone being taken out nearly to the wrist. He loaded the gun just before the occurence, and will give no satisfactory account of the shooting. His conduct looks suspicious, and he will hardly accomplish his purpose if he thought by maiming himself he could procure his discharge. He belongs in Charlestown.
Monday we had a review of all the forces embraced in our reserve corps in honor of Gen. Prim, the distinguished Spaniard, now on visit here. We were informed that Little Mac was to review us, and although we were glad to receive the Don we would have been more pleased to have seen our favorite commander.
I mentioned last week the deaths of two members of our regiment; since then three more have died, and the following are there names, together with the name of the member of co. H, before named: -- June 2d, George L. Johnson, Co. H, from Haverhill, Mass, 18 years, of stoppage. Same day, Henry Galligan, Co. C from Morton, Mass, 22 years, of typhoid fever. June 9th, Lorenzo Fifield, Co. H, from Candia, N.H., 21 years, of dysentery. Same day, James S. Reed, Sharpshooter from Lynn, Mass., 48 years, of intermittent fever. Teh sick have all been removed from the hospital tent in camp to a brick building near Dr. Gaines' house, where they will have a much better chance to get well, than here where they are obliged to lie on the ground.
Lieut. Ed. F. Richardson, of Co. G, from Cambridge, has resigned his commission. Dr. E. L. Warren, our surgeon, has also resigned, and Assistance Surgeon J. P. Prince, will likely take his place, with Dr. William Milnor, from new York, assistant.
Our brigade has had the first Michigan and Berdan's Sharpshooters added to it, and there is talk of it being increased still more. The 29th Massachusetts are also in teh vicinity. There is talk of our having again to resort to shovels and picks at this place. We here that the battle of Fair Oaks decided that contest, and teh rebels are discouraged. If that is so, and we really get at them again with our spades, they might as well evacuate first as last; for we beat them with the bayonet at Fair Oaks, and we know what we can do with the shovel.
John Lord Parker