Note: In which Bates describes initial reports on the battle of Hanover Courthouse and the issue of new carbines.
The Smith carbine a rifled, breechloading .50 caliber carbine issued to Union cavalry units early in the war. 7,000 of them were delivered in 1862. More will be posted here on the Smith carbine in the near future. It is interesting that McClellan’s escort was issued the carbines while in regiments such as the 6th US Cavalry only one squadron was equipped with carbines and not simply saber and pistol.
The Ammi Hull that Bates refers to was Corporal Ammi F. Hull of Company G, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery. He survived the war and died on September 19, 1890.
Camp 7 miles from Richmond
May 27th 1862, in a hurry
I have just received Johnson’s letter which was written on the 12th but I am glad to hear from you all and hope no misfortune has hapned (sic) since. I am in excellent health. The weather is fine now but last night we had a heavy rain, not enough to stop the march of the troops on to Richmond however. Our troops are within five miles of the Secesh Capitol and some heavy and rapid firing is being done now on the right. I suppose Genl Stoneman’s Brigade is in action. Tomorrow I am sure the fight will come off, and we march to Richmond or — get wounded not death if I can help it. (adjourned for sta)
(5 Oclk PM) Hurrah. Three cheers and Tigers, splendid news. Three hundred secesh killed and wounded one hour and a half later from the seat of the war; the firing which I referred to in the beginning of the letter was from Genl Porter’s Division. He advanced to Hanover Court-house on our right where the secesh were to the number of 13,000 and drove them out, followed them to the railroad crossing where they made another stand and routed them from there also. He is still following them; this is official we have orders to have three days rations cooked and be ready to start in no time. Our company is on General McClellan’s body-guard and I am doing duty in the company now. I was one of the staff orderlies for a while but got relieved. I suppose you got the letter I wrote day before yesterday, and found how I came to be paying the seat of the secesh government a visit. Our troops are nearer now than when I got fired at, and everything is ready to fight. If the papers are to be believed we will have all the fighting we want to do for a few days but I think Jeff Davis & Co will run away to night (sic) and go up into country, probably in search of that much vaunted “last ditch” (underlined) to die in. Bully for them, the southern chivalry. We had some new rifles issued to us yesterday of Smith’s new patent they are beauties, and J.D.’s legions had better look out the day this Squadron is let loose at them. All the regular troops are held in reserve with five days rations cooked in their haversacks, I suppose to follow the retreat if we start the secesh running.
My time will be up in 7 months and two days, but if there is any fighting to be done you can count on my taking another blanket (i.e.) reenlisting. I am going to get a furlough when it gets cool weather. I saw the first Connecticut siege artillery at Yorktown, but don’t know where they are now. I did not know Ammi Hull was in it or I would have seen him. I found lots of old acquaintances in the Third Infantry. By the way let me know if you get 50 dollars all right in my last letter. If you did I will send more. I have not much news until Richmond is taken, but then look out for a Humser.
I wrote a letter to Julia day before yesterday and tore it up because I didn’t know how to direct it, tell me how to. It is now dark so I shall wind up goodbye for a time.
Charles E. Bates