Note: In which a cavalryman secedes from his horse.
Camp Winfield Scott
May 5th, 1862
I have been so busy since we came here that I have not had time to write to you and I only have half an hour now. You have heard before now that Yorktown is evacuated, I suppose, but you have not heard that General Keys (Keyes’) Division is at present surrounded by the secesh (sic) and a terrible fight is going on. Intenting (sic) to cut off their (sic) rear guard, or harass them on their retreat, he advanced yesterday nearly to Williamsburg and this morning he woke up and found himself in as bad a fix as the Irishman who caught a Tartar. This at least is the rumor that is about headquarters at present. It is also said that one of the aids (sic) on McClellan’s staff is killed. The General himself is reported to have actually shed tears when he heard of it, but you can believe it or not.
You need not have any fears about my being snuffed out by these secesh (sic) for I am reserved for the hangman I think, from my lucky escape from a watery grave this morning, the way I came so near going under was this. I went down to Cheeseman’s landing with six wagons after forage, and riding rather close to the edge of the landing my horse took a notion that a cold bath would be rather of an agreeable thing; or perhaps he is part sea horse. At any rate in he went taking to the water as natural as a Duck; I did not like to play Neptune in that style so I seceded from the brute, but won’t I take satisfaction from him some day.
Its (sic) all a sham about General Keys (Keyes’) Division, at last accounts he was in possession of Williamsburg and giving them Jessie. Two secesh (sic) colors were taken yesterday by the Berdan Sharpshooters.
But I shall have to close for the present, goodbye,
Charles E. Bates
I want you to let me know exactly how to direct anything to you by in case I send something by Adams Express Co.
I have just heard that our Gun boats are up James river where they have the secesh (sic) fleet penned up and the retreat of the rebels cut off. I hope its (sic) so. I’ll write again soon. Direct a letter to me as follows:
Company “E”, 4th Cavlry General HeadQuarters