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15th New Jersey Fredericksburg Battle Letter - "The Rebels fight like bulldogs" - "I had a bullet shot right threw my blanket, which was strapped on my back"

This letter, four pages in nice dark ink, was written by Private Joseph Baker, Company B of the 15th New Jersey Infantry.  Baker writes the very next day after the Union troops invaded Fredericksburg. 

We crossed the Rappahannock Wednesday morning Dec. 12th on the Pontoon Bridge. 
We shelled the rebels 1st so we could cross Saturday morning Dec. 13, 1862.


The letter is filled with great battle action and Baker lists the men in killed and wounded in his company. 

  • “…At 2 o’clock p.m. our company was into it.  The rebels were in a trench and we could have no effect on them for they would fire at us and then crawl down and load and we were out on open fire.  Soon up came the 4th N.J. Regt. and then we charged on them and drove them out of the trench.  They soon made a stand and the 4th Regt. formed into a line of battle & we to our company & then it commenced.  It lasted about two hours.  The firing was kept up by our pickets until 8 o’clock & in fact, they were firing all night.”
  • “I will give you the names of those wounded in our company.  Ord. Sargt. Geo. Martin, shot in the head, Simon S. VanNess in the knee, Dick Bulgin shot in the hip, Len Cooper in the leg near the hip, John Thompson shot in left arm, Zachariah Seals shot in the jaw, Jim Timmins in the hand, John P. Brink in the hand, Jim Egbert wounded in leg, Wm. Broadwell in the left shoulder.  Missing Ed Albertson, Henry Cole, David L. Hayes, and one man I believe.  “I” Company suffered bad but they fought well.”


Here are some of the other great parts…

  • “Our Major, Major Brown, was wounded in the leg and our Sargt. Major killed.  Capt. Slater was shot in the knee and had to have his knee amputated.” 
  • “…Our troops are in possession of Fredericksburg…” 
  • “I had a bullet shot right through my blanket which was strapped on my back.  It was pretty close I tell you.” 
  • “The rebels fight like bulldogs.” 

Less than 5 months after writing this letter, Baker was killed at the battle of Salam Heights, Virginia.  In that battle, the 15th New Jersey suffered heavy loss with 31 killed.  A wonderful Fredericksburg battle letter and we love that line, “The Rebels fight like bulldogs”!

#L385 - Price $895




Transcription
:
                                                                                            Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.
                                                                                                                     December 14, 1862
Friend John
                   Dear Sir, 
                            I received your letter and was glad to hear from you.  I would
have answered it sooner but we have been on the march.  We crossed the
Rappahannock Wednesday morning Dec. 12th on the Pontoon Bridge.  We
shelled the rebels 1st so we could cross Saturday morning Dec. 13, 1862.  We
our Regt. was put on the outpost as pickets.  We were not there but a few hours
before firing commenced and at 2 o’clock p.m. our company was into it.  The
 rebels were in a trench and we could have no effect on them for they would
fire at us and then crawl down and load and we were out on open fire.  Soon
up came the 4th N.J. Regt. and then we charged on them and drove them out
of the trench.  They soon made a stand and the 4th Regt. formed into a line of
battle & we to our company & then it commenced.  It lasted about two hours. 
The firing was kept up by our pickets until 8 o’clock & in fact, they were firing
all night.  I will give you the names of those wounded in our company.  Ord.
Sargt. Geo. Martin, shot in the head, Simon S. VanNess in the knee, Dick Bulgin
shot in the hip, Len Cooper in the leg near the hip, John Thompson shot in left
arm, Zachariah Seals shot in the jaw, Jim Timmins in the hand, John P. Brink
in the hand, Jim Egbert wounded in leg, Wm. Broadwell in the left shoulder. 
Missing Ed Albertson, Henry Cole, David L. Hayes, and one man I believe.  “I”
Company suffered bad but they fought well.  Us 3, J. Reidinger, J. Stutz, and
myself are well and they send their best respects to their families.  I have not
heard how many were killed and wounded in the Regiment.  Our Major, Major
Brown, was wounded in the leg and our Sargt. Major killed.  Capt. Slater was
shot in the knee and had to have his knee amputated.  Today, Sunday we are
laying still.  We expect to go into it tomorrow again.  Our troops are in
possession of Fredericksburg.  I had a bullet shot right through my blanket
which was strapped on my back.  It was pretty close I tell you.  If I should be
so unlucky as to get shot I wish you would please take my things and give
them to my sister if you please.  The rebels fight like bulldogs.  Please let my
sister have $10.00, ten dollars, as she has lost a child and will need, etc. 
Please let my sister see this letter as it will save me the trouble of writing
twice.  You will please read it for her.  You will please do all you can to make
her comfortable.  I will close, my love to all. 
                                                                        Direct as before.
                                                                                   Your true friend, Joseph Baker