Line of Battle near Ream’s Station on the Weldon Railroad
August 26h 1864
Yours of the 16th I received some time ago but owing to the recent flank movement made by the 5th Corps on the above named railroad, has put a stop to writing, or rather answering a letter so promptly as I am in the habit of doing.
But now, having a few leisure moments to answer yours at my earliest opportunity, I will also state that I received a letter from Alice dated the 21st this morning which was read with great pleasure as it always gives me when I receive a note from home.
This leaves me in good health & the finest of spirits, hoping this may reach you safe and find all enjoying life the finest.
The weather today is very warm. Last night we had a terrible thunderstorm, with a heavy shower of rain. It did not continue long as the wind was very high. We have had an enormous quantity of rain all over this section of the country since the 18th of this month. I was in hopes we would have somewhat cooler weather than we had been having while in camp in front of Petersburg & after these beautiful showers which has so frequently visited this part of the old sacred soil of Virginia.
Our Corps broke camp on the morning of the 18th, it being very pleasant, but after a few hours march, we began to feel the heat of the sun & before reaching the railroad a large number were sun struck. I did not feel very well on arriving there as the sun had such an effect on my head. We took position on the road with but little skirmishing in the forenoon. Immediately after arriving there the First Division commenced their work of destruction by tearing the track up and down & afterwards knocking the ties from off the T. rail & piling them up and putting the soil across the ties, set fire to them, when they became hot enough the heat would bend them nearly double. The Second Division & others forming a line of battle to meet any opposition the enemy might make. Everything went along finely until about noon when a large body of the enemy could be distinctly be seen moving toward us & putting a battery into position. They opened up on workmen with solid shot & shell. But a few well directed shots from our battery knocked them out of position. The Second Division forming on the right of the railroad advanced through a piece of woods where they met the enemy, driving them back. But the Rebels, forming another line, advanced on our right & completely flanking our regiment. We had nothing on our right, being some distance in advance here. We was compelled to retreat or lose all in prisoners.
The boys, however, managed to get through the woods & forming another line was ready to meet the Johnnies, but they did not attack us that night. We held the battleground all that night & a part of the next day. Our loss was very light in the 18th.
On the morning of the 19th we commenced to make our works stronger and part of the works being right on the railroad for our company facing Petersburg between 3 & 4 o’clock in the afternoon. The enemy, throwing a strong force on our right, broke our line and completely flanked us, driving us [illegible]… of the other boys when to my great surprise on looking to the right where the [ ] had his quarters during the day. I seen the Rebel’s colors flying & the first thing I knew a Reb came up with fixed bayonet right on the opposite side of the track [illegible] me prisoner a few moments but [illegible] a chance to escape took to my heals as fast as possible [illegible]. I expect to ever have the privilege of writing to you again on that day when the shells were flying over my head as I was retreating. We fell back & formed a strong line & again advanced & drove the enemy back to their lines. Here we again held the battleground. Our loss was very light in killed and wounded but we lost a large number of prisoners by their flanking us. During all this time it was raining quite hard. I lost the regiment in this excitement & could not find them until the next day.
The 20th we was to work throwing up breastworks all day. At night the order came to close them down and fall back part way across an open field where we again established another line of works. On the morning of the 21st it was my turn to go out on the skirmish line. The order was to advance & draw the enemy from their works if possible. After a little brisk skirmishing, the enemy advanced in a strong line of battle driving us into our works. The ball then opened [illegible] on the left of the railroad, the Johnnies thought they had attacked us on the extreme left but to their great surprise found our line extended a great deal farther than they had any idea of.
G[ouverner] Warren had marked his batteries at this point & when the enemy had advanced to within a few hundred yards of the pieces they opened upon them with canister, spreading destruction in their ranks. They could withstand the terrible fire no longer. Showing signs of surrender, the batteries was ordered to cease firing which was done. Here we captured a large number of prisoners. This ended the conflict for the day, all but the [illegible] which kept up a continual fire all the afternoon.
Yesterday the enemy as far as I can learn attacked Hancock on our left. They charged three times & were badly defeated with heavy loss. Our Corps held itself in readiness for an attack at any point the enemy should attempt to break through.
I have no longer time to write as I know not hereafter the Rebels well attack us tonight or not.
For the present, adieu. Please accept for your loving son, — Charles C.