1st Mass. Inf. - Peninsula Campaign Battle Letter April 14th, 1862 - "Berdan Sharpshooters dropped a man about every time they fired."
This letter, written in nice clear pencil, is on paper measuring 8 x 11 inches.  The writer, William F. Smith, fills the front and most of the back with excellent battle content!  The 1st Mass. Inf. was an extremely hard fought unit and during the Peninsula Campaign received some 200 casualties.  Our letter is headed, “York Co. near Yorktown April 14th/62”.  The letter comes with its original cover postmarked, April 17th, 1862 and addressed to Mrs. E. Smith, Newton Lower Falls, Mass.

William F. Smith belonged to Company B of the 1st Mass. Infantry.  He was a 25-year-old jewelry.  The Civil War Database lists him as a musician and also states that Smith had an alias!  Writing his mother, he signs the letter “William Wallace”… and the database says that he used the alias William F. Wallace.  Now there is a research project for you!

Here are some of the great lines:

  • “We are still laying in front of the fortifications here and entrenching ourselves under the very mouth of their cannon.”
  • “We are planting some pretty heavy guns to bear upon their works and will give them a try when we get everything ready but McClellan seems to be in no hurry about it.  He intends to get everything ready before he begins.” 
  • “Every day the rebels fire a few shots in hopes to draw our fire and find out where our batteries are but do not succeed in getting an answer…”
  • “The Rebels advanced with about 2,000 and tried to drive our pickets in and drove in only one post, the farthest advanced.”
  • “Berdan’s Sharpshooters were outside of us and they dropped a man about every time they fired and our battery that was with us sent grape & canister amongst them as fast as they wanted to see them.  We are in a good place as their shot went over us and besides that we were stationed in the woods behind trees… They lost considerably many….”
  • “The rumor here is that the Merrimac is aground.”
  • “Tell Jonathon to look out for those actresses at the Howard Athenaeum as they are nothing but paint and cotton.”

A fine Peninsula Campaign letter from one of the Unions most hard-fought regiments, especially desirable with that great line about the Berdan Sharpshooters!

#L434 - Price $595