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						145
	       Condition of the Army.

[newspaper clipping continued]
ditch or plank work existed to impede their
retreat.  The one accounted for his not run-
ning by saying that he had heard no order to that
effect; he was, however, badly enough terrified by
the appearance of our men, expecting instant death.
Of course he received quarter.  At this juncture
Company A of the Eleventh Massachusetts arrived
at the scene of action.  Being deployed along the
right flank, and supported by the battery in their
rear, they kept up an incessant fire from the woods
upon those in which the enemy had taken refuge,
while the Rebel redoubt was demolished by our sol-
diers, who, having completed their task, withdrew
under a heavy shower of rifle balls, shot and shell.
Thirteen of the Rebels, drawn out of the redoubt
into the woods, were captured by the Eleventh
Massachusetts, comprising a sergeant, corporal, and
twelve privates of the Nineteenth Virginia Regiment.
  Our loss is 4 killed, 14 wounded.  I append a com-
plete list of their names.  J. W. Spooner had a nar-
row escape, a rifle bullet striking the little brass
shield he wore upon his breat with such force
as to indent its surface for at least three inches, and
to flatten at least half of its own leaden bulk.  That
shield shall be exhibited by his grandchildren, in
times to come, as a memento of the perils incurred
by the heroes of the Great Rebellion, and they shall
be proud to claim descent from the man who wore
it.  I witnessed the funeral of three of his unfortu-
nate comrades this afternoon:  Kingsbury, the
fourth, was not slain outright, but died subsequently.
The bodies only received temporary burial in soil
alien to and unworthy of them.  They will be re-
moved to their own State in due time.

[newspaper clipping: first column]
From Our Special Correspondent.
	CAMP BEFORE YORKTOWN,}
GEN. HEINTZELMAN S CORPS D ARMEE, April 28, 9 p. m.}
  Fine weather again! a mild, sunny day, almost
sultry toward the afternoon.  You will find it diffi-
cult to imagine how much that simple statement
conveys to us of the Army of the Peninsula.  Had
you existed for the past week in a condition more
befitting a primeval reptile than a human being 
more mud and water you might form a realizing
sense of it, such as we have.  Wet weather here
means privation, misery, disease, death (in as sad
forms as any directly referable to war); fine weather,
the absence or mitigation of all those evils.  We
hardly hope for such an improvement in this abom-
inable climate as to suppose we have endured our
last from atmospheric influences but, like the Cornish
Knight who burst into tears of gratitude on being
told by Queen Elizabeth to keep his hat on during a
rain-storm, we are  thankful for small mercies. 
  How is the siege of Yorktown progressing? you

[newspaper clipping: second column]
are asking.  Well, we are making haste slowly, after
the German axiom.  All working, with the occasion-
al interlude of a skirmish, resulting in nothing except
the killing of a few men on either side and the es-
tablishment of the fact that the Rebels usually ex-
hibit less pluck or confidence in their cause than our
men do.  The former not only run at the termination
of each fight, but their defenses are evidently con-
structed with an eye to that contingency, a damaging
admission on the part of Secessia.  I think they pro-
pose to themselves the holding of Yorktown so long
as they shall be able to retain it, then the falling
back, with their artillery, to another position in the
rear, and so on, thus defending the soil of Dixie inch
by inch.  I doubt if Gen. McClellan intends letting
them do this.
  What his plans are, I cannot inform you, for the
simplest and most obvious of reasons.  Like most
persons, I exercise the National privilege of guessing,
but for the present I must abstain from putting my
guess on paper.
  We are all working, each after his degree; the
general with his plans, and the engineer in his in-
trenchments and parallels, the soldier in carrying
them out, the commissary in feeding the soldier (a
little more regularly than during the continuance of
foul weather), the quartermaster in clothing him, the
surgeon, alas! in preparing for the inevitable suffer-
ings attendant on war and their alleviation.  The
dramatis personae, complete in their parts (they have
had a long rehearsal) and nearly all at their posts,
await the uprising of what we hope will prove the
last act of the great American Rebellion.  And,
without committing myself to any expression of over-
confidence as to the result, I begin to think that they
will not have to wait so very long, after all.
  The sooner it can be done effectively the better;
we all feel that.  For some of the regiments are en-
camped (I think unnecessarily) in proximity to hor-
rible swamps; places as like to  the thriving city of
Eden as it appeared in fact,  in Martin Chuzzlewit,
as could well be imagined.  In such, the creeks, the
bayous, the stagnant pools, all rife with vegetable
decomposition, stretch everywhere; you have but to
dig to the depth of a foot below the surface of the
muddy earth to discover water.  Above it the pesti-
lential exhalations rise of an evening, not  like a
black mist low-creeping,  though as baleful as that
into which Satan resolved himself in Milton s Para-
dise, but white, and tall, like a shroud the only one
many a poor fellow finds on this accursed peninsula.
Those whom experience has taught caution, con-
struct floors to their tents, elevate themselves, some-
how, from the always damp ground, nocturnally,
build fire-places of mud or timber; the heedless and
weak contract disease and death.
Page
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen: page one hundred and sixty-two
Description:Newspaper clipping written by Gunn for ''The New York Tribune'' regarding skirmishes at Yorktown near the end of April, 1862.
Date:1862-04-28
Subject:Casualties; Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Kingsbury; Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 11th; McClellan, George B.; Military; New York tribune.; Peninsula Campaign (Va.); Spooner, J.W.; Virginia Infantry Regiment, 19th
Coverage (City/State):Yorktown, Virginia
Scan Date:2010-06-17

 

Volume
Title:Thomas Butler Gunn Diaries, Volume Nineteen
Description:Includes Gunn's descriptions of his experiences as a war correspondent for ""The New York Tribune"" in Virginia while traveling with the Army of the Potomac during the Peninsular Campaign; the Siege of Yorktown; the Battle of Williamsburg; his departure from Alexandria on the steamer Kent; the ruins of Hampton, Virginia, after it was burnt by John B. Magruder; touring the gunboat Monitor; the death of Fitz James O'Brien from a gunshot wound; Jim Parton's temporary separation from Fanny Fern; and seeing Robert E. Lee's house in Virginia.
Subject:Civil War; Gunn, Thomas Butler; Journalism; Marches (U.S. Army); Marriage; Medical care (U.S. Army); Military; Military camp life; Peninsular Campaign (Va.); Prisoners of war (Confederate); Siege of Yorktown (Va.); Slavery; Slaves; Travel; Women
Coverage (City/State):New York, New York; Washington, District of Columbia; Alexandria, Virginia; Hampton, Virginia; Yorktown, Virginia; Williamsburg, Virginia
Note:Thomas Butler Gunn was born February 15, 1826, in Banbury, England, and came to New York in 1849. During the Civil War he worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Post. He returned to England in 1863, and died in Birmingham in April 1903. The collection includes twenty-one volumes of his diaries, including newspaper clippings, letters, photographs, sketches, and various other items inserted by Gunn. Diary entries date from July 7, 1849, to April 7, 1863, and include his experiences with the New York publishing and literary world, his descriptions of boarding houses, his travels throughout the United States, and his experiences traveling with the Federal army as a Civil War correspondent.
Publisher:Missouri History Museum
Rights:Copyright 2010 Missouri History Museum.
Source:Page images, transcriptions, and metadata of the Thomas Butler Gunn diaries have been provided by the Missouri History Museum.