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116th Penn. Inf. "Irish" - Action at Bristoe Station - Great Escape Story... Chased by Rebels

This 3 page letter in ink was written by William A. Smith, Company D of the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry.  On the monument at Gettysburg, William A. Smith is listed as a Corporal in Company A.  The Civil War Database has him listed in Company D.  So perhaps, when he enlisted on August 21st, 1862, he was in Co. D and then moved to Co. A.  The records of the 116th leave quite a bit to be desired.  The great thing about the 116ths is that it was a fight Irish regiment!  They had heavy casualties at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg and also in the Wilderness and Spottsylvania Campaign. 

Our letter is headed, “Head Quarters Bull Run Oct. 18th/63”.  Smith is writing home to his parents and sisters.  Here are some of the good lines:

  • “…we are laying here under orders with the horses saddle ready to go in a moment’s notice.  We had a very hot time of it at Bristoe Station.  They were on both sides of us.  There they attacked us on a flank movement.  They open fire on us at day light and threw shell right in where we had head quarters.  We were all off of our horses when the shell commence coming there.  There was a detachment with us.  Them I had to horse.  There was some awful jumping done then but when we come up to Brook’s Run there we had a big fight and there the Rebs like to got me.  I was ordered to go back to the rear…”
  • “I was coming back to the Division again and I was coming along and looked over the field and seen the Johnnies coming right in our rear and I stopped then a looked and I turned my horse around.  They fired at me then and I put the spurs to the horse then and got off.  They shot at me 3 times.  That is the first time I had the Rebs tell me to halt, but I did not halt for them and went back to the hospital and told the Cavalry of it and they made a charge on them and took a lot of them prisoners.  I expect you will see it in the papers about the 2nd Corps taken 6 pieces of artillery and two standings of Colors and 600 prisoners. We had to fight two battles that day and General Mead give us a great blow in the papers about it.” 

The letter comes with its original cover (no stamp) and is in fine condition.  Irish Brigade letters are very desirable! 

#L432 - Price $550 - New Price $350!



 Transcription:
                                              Head Quarters Bull Run Oct. 18th/63

Dear Father & Mother & Sisters,

       I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines to let you know that I
received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you all.  I am pretty well at present and I hope these few lines will find you the same.  Well I can’t give you the description of the battle now.  I will give you the whole of it as soon as I can get a chance to, for we are laying here under orders with the horses saddle ready to go in a moment’s notice.  We had a very hot time of it at Bristoe Station.  They were on both sides of us.  There they attacked us on a flank movement.  They open fire on us at day light and threw shell right in where we had head quarters.  We were all off of our horses when the shell commence coming there.  There was a detachment with us.  Them I had to horse.  There was some awful jumping done then but when we come up to Brook’s Run there we had a big fight and there the Rebs like to got me.  I was ordered to go back to the rear and I went back and went over where we had
a hospital.  I was coming back to the Division again and I was coming along and looked over the field and seen the Johnnies coming right in our rear and I stopped then a looked and I turned my horse around.  They fired at me then and I put the spurs to the horse then and got off.  They shot at me 3 times.  That is the first time I had the Rebs tell me to halt, but I did not halt for them and went back to the hospital and told the Cavalry of it and they made a charge on them and took a lot of them prisoners.  I expect you will see it in the papers about the 2nd Corps taken 6 pieces of artillery and two standings of Colors and 600 prisoners.  We had to fight two battles that day and General Mead give us a great blow in the papers about it.  Well I must stop writing for I don’t know when I can write again for I have not got anything to write on the ground and I can’t write that way.  So good bye to you all and give my love to Chris Apple and all the rest of my friends and I will give you the account of it as soon as we stop marching.  I have got it down in my book as I go along and I will give you the account from the first of the month and every day doings all along when we get in to camp again. 
So good-bye. 

          From your love,
                          Wm. A. Smith

Please send me some more stamps for I owed them all but one to my partner.

We are fighting again off in front of us the cannons are at work now.