Col. George F. Noyes Autograph Letter not signed
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Col. George F. Noyes Autograph Letter not signed (rock solid ID) and not ended, 4pp on Antietam and South Mountain. Noted staff officer 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 andhave 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).
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Item # 19387
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