Albert J. Barnard, 28 May 1863

[Editor’s Note: This letter was cut from in a local newspaper and pasted into a scrapbook of the 116th. See pages 11-20 and 21-30 in the PDFs here:…/infantry/116thInf/116thInfMain.htm]

In the field near Port Hudson
May 28th, 1863

Dear Mother,

Here I am, seated on a log, with pencil in hand, to let you know how we all are this morning. We had an awful, awful, fight yesterday. Last Sunday morning we marched from our first battlefield to this place, our brigade in advance. As soon as the column reached this point, my company was thrown forward to skirmish the woods in front. After advancing about three quarters of a mile, I came upon the enemy’s pickets, whom I drove in to their fortifications; they proved to be the outer works of Port Hudson. After taking a good look at them, to get their position, I fell back a little and then reported to Colonel Chapin. The last line has been, ever since, our picket line. The artillery has kept up a fire ever since, but the infantry has not been engaged, except yesterday.

Yesterday morning I was awakened just after daylight by heavy guns, that had been mounted during the night; and very soon Col. Chapin came along the road ordering the troops to be ready to fall in, as all the artillery was to open in fifteen minutes. At the same time he ordered Major Love to have two companies fall in and report to him, at the picket line, for skirmishing. Captain Sizer and myself were ordered out. This was before breakfast. Captain S. was deployed to the right and my company to the left of the road that we were on, which leads straight into the Fort. We drove the rebs into the works, and crept close enough to pick off their gunners. In this way we silenced two guns, while the whole or our artillery was banging away, trying to make a breach or dismount the guns.

While this was going on our brigade was being massed in the woods behind us for an assault on the works. This was an awful undertaking, but was General Banks’ plan. The men had to cross a slashing nearly half a mile wide before reaching the works, and were all tired out before they got much over half way. The rebs had a splendid range across here, and poured in the grape and cannister like rain. I cannot describe this here, for the want of paper; and I have just been relieved, having kept my line of skirmishers through the fight and acted as an outer picket during the night.

Colonel Chapin led the advance, and was wounded through the hand, and in a few moments was shot through the head. He died instantly. Major Love was wounded in the right shoulder, is doing nicely, and has gone to Baton Rouge. Lieut. Grey is wounded in left leg, just below the knee, and outside of the bone. He is doing nicely, and will soon be on duty again. He leaves for Baton Rouge this morning. Lieut. John Dobbins is all right. He went through without a scratch.

The assault was too great an undertaking and our men had to fall back again to my line. Our loss, in killed, wounded and missing, from the 116th is 97, I lost four. We had but two officers wounded besides the ones mentioned; Lieut. Morgan, Company I, and Lieut. Jones, Company H. Jones cannot live through the day. I am all right, though very tired, for we are out burying the dead.

In haste, — ALBERT

The day after he wrote this letter, Barnard received a promotion to lieutenant colonel. He resigned in July 1863 and returned to Buffalo. Barnard became an executive at a local manufacturing firm and lived until 1916, dying of heart disease at age 74. His wife and three daughters survived him.