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19387  Col. George F. Noyes  Autograph Letter not signed (rock solid
ID) and not ended, 4pp on Antietam and South Mountain.
 Noted staff
of
ficer with Gen. Abner Doubleday.  “Headquarters, Doubleday’s
Division, Hawker’s Army Corps, Camp near Sharpsburg, Md. Sept 20,
1862.  Dear Mother Deering, The reaction from our late terrible
excitements and a perhaps rather worn-out state of health, have left me
sad tonight, and we cannot well feel very buoyant hereon the battle
field where hundreds of unburied men still look up to the silent stars.  
We have been in our tents all day, a strange luxury, though the sound
of cannonading has vexed the air all day and still reverberates in our
ears.  How I should like to come down with Marion and our boys and
have one week’s rest in Portland.
Why think of it – within forty days I have been engaged in six battles,
besides being several days under artillery fire in support of batteries –
am I wrong in longing for rest, and peace, and house.
Besides, we haven’t had good fruits from all this savage fighting.  
Officers who were at Sebastopol, and Solferino, and the Yorktown
Peninsula pronounced Wednesday’s fight the most savage of the
century, and yet McClellan allowed the enemy who lost at least four to
our one to slip across the river.  I am not a warrior, would run rather
than fight any day, but I confess that after shivering on the battlefield
with no covering but my cloak during Wednesday’s fight, I longed for
the order to advance on the enemy – If we had done so I believe we
should have captured their whole army, and perhaps with little
bloodshed.  Are we never to have a decent leader?  The Rebels fight
splendidly, their Generals are excellent, but we seem to be wasting our
blood and treasure in vain.  By dint of hard fighting we had forced the
Rebels into a bend of the river, and then instead of forcing him to
surrender, give him a whole day and two nights to cross it.  I am savage
sometimes when I think of it.  And yet it will be claimed as a great
victory.  If for one spark of Napoleonic fire to trim up this “strategy”
and leave us some military ? to take advantage of our frequent
opportunities.
Of course, I could fill a sheet with describing of some of the battle
scenes I have witnessed, but I refrain – the which impressed me most
however was that of Seared of South Mountain on Sunday evening.  
The twilight descended upon the woods which crowned the summit just
as we charged into them.    ? just where the ?  was stationed, and yet
warned of his proximity by the “ping” “ping” of minnie balls about our
ears, we pushed on in live of battle.  The General and staff ahead
sitting to keep the men steady – then with three tremendous cheers, we
rushed into the fray.  But you have no idea how hard it is to keep
troops from becoming frantic.  I saw men then and on other fields
firing in the air, once indeed at Manassas heights actually firing into
all our ranks, wasting their ammunition fearfully.  Not one bullet in
two, perhaps in a hundred, hits an enemy.  The thing to be done then is
to order them to cease firing, but one way road himself hoarse in the
effort and almost in vain.  At last we get them well in hand, the
cowards retreated, and we had better work.  Still I really believe that
one hundred cool men would do more execution than a regiment of our
ordinary volunteers.
But what a night that was! May I never pass such another.  With
nothing to eat, and no covering but a cloak, we lay down among the
dead, and slept only to dream of fighting.  The fighting on our left
continued until perhaps midnight, and any moment might bring us also
a fresh summons to battle.  With the first gleam of daylight, we were all
awakened but the enemy had fled leaving heaps of his dead close to us.  
The memory of the scene of that night can never leave me – Fighting in
good honest daylight is not half so terrible.
But you are sated with descriptions of battles, and I confess my utter
inability to paint some of the scenes through which I have been called
to pass.  Would that I might never be within a hundred miles of a battle
again.  But we must press on, and even yet some great day may kill this
unhappy Republican.  I have talked with very many Rebel prisoners,
and all unite in the wish that the war was over.  I must do justice to
their bravery, and never speak to them except in the kindest terms.  
They are as sincere as they are brave.
One little incident, which I can vouch for as my personal knowledge, is
worth recounting.  One of our orderlies, who caters for our staff mess,
went on Monday last to a house a quarter of a mile from the road to
buy some chickens, etc. As he walked round the house he saw seated on
the porch seven Rebel soldiers with their muskets.  He instantly
advanced drew his revolver, and commanded them to surrender.  All
did so promptly but one, and he, as having the revolver brought to
bear, threw down his musket with an oath. “Fall in,” ordered our
orderly.  They obeyed, and he marched them in front of him to the
road.  Just then he saw two more sitting by the road side.  “Throw
down your muskets and fall in” cried he. They also obeyed, and he
actually marched his nine prisoners down to the Brigade, turned them
over to one of of our aides, by whom they were placed in custody. We
consider it one of the most gallant acts of the war.  He says “ If them
Rebels were half as scared as I was, I pity ? the cold sweat stood all
over me, but I knew they’d shoot me if I didn’t put on a ……   (the
letter ends here).    $400