Chaplin Hyde letters dated August 1, 1864 about the MINE explosion... and October 1, 1864 concerning the fight at Ft. Gilmer, New Market Heights, Va. The letters are published with permission: William Hyde Letters- Chaplin 112th New York Infantry, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College Corsicana, Texas. May 24, 2005 The letters cannot be published, reproduced or copied in any form without the written consent of Navarro College, Corsicana, TX.
Camp 112th NYVols Aug 1st 1864
My Dear Wife,
Here we are this monday morning having made another change of base. Saturday morning about five o'clock our brigade with the ninth corps were drawn up in successive lines preparatory to a charge upon a redoubt which had been mined. The first operation was to blow up the fort. This was done in fine style, a complete success. The mine was lighted at precisely 5 o'clock and the huge mass of earth with men & guns were lifted up into the air. Some men were blown over into our advance pits. One man who came over unharmed said he thought it was rather unceremonious to send a man kiting through the air in that shape before he had eaten his breakfast. After the redoubt was blown up we opened a terrible artillery fire along our whole line. then the troops made a charge the negro regiments first. We got posession of the redoubt without the loss of a man. With a very slight loss we got possession of the main works of the enemy. We held two lines and were preparing to make our position secure when the negros and some white troops in front were seized with panic and broke & ran and pressed the troops in the rear by sheer force of numbers. Some officers stood well & tried to stay the rush but it was in vain and in a few minutes the work of weeks was lost. Our Brigade was just getting into position when the stampede took place. They did what they could to arrest it but were too feeble. One man told me that a huge nigger came tumbling over him and almost broke his back! In our endeavoring to hold the position till the line could be reformed, our Regt suffered some casualties we had one man killed and eleven wounded. two men mortally wounded. I do not know of any with whom you are acquainted. We remained in the front of our works until about five o'clock PM when the regiment was marched back into the trenches where they had been so long. We had heard that we were to go to Washington at any rate that we were to leave the position in which we then were. So about 2 AM yesterday morning we were woke up and told to prepare for Washington. I assure you I did not feel very well pleased with the proposed change for to go to Washington I knew would be equivalent to marching all over Northern Virginia & Maryland. When we got started we knew that we were not going to City Point as we supposed, but were to cross the Appomattox for Bermuda Hundred. We had an awful march. Six men were sun struck in our Regiment and in every regt in the Brigade there were large numbers. It seems to me that it was the hottest day of the season. About noon we went into a field this side of the River and collected the sick together. There was no medicine for the sun struck men, so I jumped on my horse and rode off to the Sanitary Commission, got a bottle of Jamaica ginger & a bottle of spirit and went around and administered it myself. We had very good success with most of the cases and when we left for our bivouac, we put them into the Hospital. I was very tired at night. Slept under the open canopy of Heaven & slept well. Here I am this Monday morning writing to you. I hope this will find you in good health. I feel quite cheerful since we have not to go to Washington. We understand here that Terry's division went. I must say that I think affairs in the country look somewhat gloomy. I am astonished at some things the government are doing. This recruiting new Regiments & enlisting almost solely Negro Soldiers will prove in the long run very disasterous. I shall hope to hear from you tomorrow. I get your letters quite regularly. I have not heard from Harry for sometime past. I shall write to him this week.
With love as ever
William L. Hyde
Send the enclosed list to source paper Give it to H.C.Wright for publication.
BATTLE OF THE CRATER - from an oil painting
THE CHARGE TO THE CRATER - from a sketch made at the time.
To take a virtural battlefield tour of the CRATER, visit http://www.johnsmilitaryhistory.com/crater.html This site has 3 pages devoted to the crater and the fight that the 112th NY participated in.
The following is the letter that describes the fight at Ft. Gilmer, that I have detailed on page 2 (The Flag & the Medal of Honor). Chaplin Hyde wrote this letter to his wife telling her of the fight and that he had written an account for the papers.
Near Jones Landing - North of the River Oct 1st, 1864
My Dear Wife,
I received your letter from Stanford this evening only 5 days from mailing. I had not expected hear from you before last evening. I wrote you a few lines to send by Luis Potter who has resigned & gone home. He has grown so deaf as to be utterly incapacitated for any military use. And he never was cut out for an officer. I wrote to Dunkirk but thinking you may be at Stanford by the time this can get there & I write again. I know you will feel anxious when you hear that the tenth has moved from Petersburg and especially so if you read in the New York papers of the Sanguinary battles of the 29th. We had a terrible fight. I have written a full account for the Jamestown Journal and the Dunkirk to. Our Regiment covered itself with honor and our losses are very severe in wounded. That dear little Kimberly lost his foot his left foot. He told me & the tear started as he spoke that he could not bear the idea of losing it. I said to him My dear young friend, better lose your foot than your life. He then said if after examination Dr. Washburn decides that it ought to come off I am satisfied. The Doctor was not well and got Dr. Clarke of the 39th Ill to operate for him. This Clarke is a splendid Surgeon. He did the amputation very handsomely. I held the foot until the work was done. I held Maj. Ludwicks right arm too while they took it off just above the elbow. You may believe I shed some tears after it was over. The Major did not lose much blood. He was wounded twice in the same arm. The first thing he tied the handkerchief about the limb, and staid with the regiment, on the 2d charge he got a bullet through it which smashed the bone badly. We lost 4 killed 14 missing most supposed killed & 44 wounded. I dressed 15 of the 17 of our regiment first brought in myself and before we went forward to the front, I dressed the wounds of twelve colored men belonging to the 18th Corps. They fought splendidly and I took great satisfaction in doing for them. At night after all our men had left in the ambulances I left too & came down to Jones Landing to see Maj. Ludwick. It was near midnight when I got down I had had but one hours sleep the night before, and I could not go down to the boat but threw myself on my rubber with my saddle for a pillow & was soon fast asleep. In the morning the boat had gone. I have been all day writing letters here in the Quarter Masters tent and tomorrow early I go again to the front. I am sadly troubled about my horse. I cannot use Frank and have to get along as I can with a loaned horse of the Quarter Masters. This much going & coming a very troublesome business for me. I still fear Frank will not get well but the men encourage me to hope that he will. He is very sick now and the weather is bad - cold & wet. It rained all last night and has all day to day. It bids fair to be pleasant tomorrow. There was a terrible canonading over toward Petersburg last night. The General will have Petersburg or Richmond I think before the dawn of another week. Lee is being pursued on every hand. Yesterday he assaulted our lines twice and was repulsed with savage slaughter. We took 300 prisoners. The army is in fine spirits. I hope we shall have no more charges to make. The wounds of our men are generally not as severe as at Cold Harbor. I think about six will have to undergo amputation. How glad I was that I was well enough to help take care of the men who were wounded. I am improving daily in health & hope to get some flesh on as soon as we take Richmond.
Truly & affectionately
Wm L. Hyde
Pontoon Bridge over the James River at Jones Landing, VA., view from North side of the river. Jones Landing is where Chaplin Hyde went to see the wounded off from the fight at Ft. Gilmer, in particular his friend Colonel Ludwick. Library of Congress photo
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