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Chapman, 7 June 1862

[Note: The “battlefield” described in this letter refers to the Battle of Hanover Court House which was fought on 27 May 1862.]


Cold Harbor, Virginia
June 7, 1862

My Dear Wife,

I will now try to write a few lines to let you know that I am well though I don’t think that this will find you so if what I hear is true for Mathews tells me that you are sick. I hope it is not true but if it is, take as good care of yourself as you can until I can do something for you. They ought to have paid us off a month ago but they have not and there is no knowing when they will for they can’t find us. We are on a hunting expedition, We have been all over Virginia after the rebels and only got up with them once and then they almost got us in a trap before we knew that they were in sight.

There is nothing that will kill a man like this for we had to walk thirty miles one day and then run for two hours over the battlefield where we could not step in some places without stepping on a dead man and Norman Smith slept with one and kept punching him with his elbow to make him move and did not know that he was dead until morning.

We buried 25 North Carolina men in one grave. Some of them was killed so sudden that they fell just as they stood. One man lay with one hand on his gun and the other on the ramrod a trying to load it. One poor fellow had the top of his head shot off. This war business is hard when one has to walk all day to do two or three hours fighting and then have to sleep on the battle ground all night. I have been sick awhile and am in the hospital now but I am about well again.

I am very sorry that you are sick and wish that I could be there with you for I am of no use to the regiment now and I don’t think that I ever shall be again.

Give my love to mother and the girls and tell them that I would like to see them all very much. I will now close hoping that this will find you well.

I stopped here for awhile for I have just had one of my back teeth pulled and it ached so that I could not sit still to write for I think that they have broke my jaw. I had to borrow everything so as to write—this stamp and all—of Doctor Stevens. I am taking care of his horse now but I shall soon go to camp on duty so I think that I shall be one to help take Richmond. So if you hear anything about [Fitz John] Porter’s Division doing anything, you may know that I am somewhere about there with the rest of them.

I hope that this letter will find you well. I will send you some money as soon as I can. Give my love to all. Good night, my pet.

From your husband, — Chet

P. S. The reason of my not writing before is because I could not get pen, ink, or paper or stamps.

To Martha L. A. Chapman, Montrose, Conn.

Saving history one letter at a time

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