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The Battle of Battery Wagner – A Graphic Detail Letter from a Soldier that would be Wounded there & Die from his Wounds – John G. Abbott, Co. D, 48th New York
This long 6 page letter in ink comes with its original envelope. John G. Abbott enlisted at May’s Landing, New Jersey as a Sergeant. The 48th New York first took part in the capture of Port Royal, S.C. and then moved on to the capture of Fort Pulaski. In these operations their losses were minimal, however, as they began the siege of Morris Island and the stronghold of Battery Wagner, the regiment was decimated. Abbott gives us a fact filled descriptive letter… just as if we were really there. The letter is headed, “In Camp Folly Island, S.C., July 7th (1863)”.

• “On the evening of the 3rd of July, we rec’d marching orders with the rest of the Brigade to be ready to embark early in the morning of the 4th, and we had everything packed up and tents struck at 5 o'clock on the 4th, and as we were on the right of the Brigade, we had to embark last so as to land first. The 9th Maine embarked at 6 a.m., the 7th Ct. left at 8 a.m., the 3rd N. H. at 11 a.m., the 76th Pa. at 2 p.m., the 48th N. Y. at 3 p.m., the 1st N. Y. Indt. Battalion at 5 p.m. Gen. Strong and Staff came on board with us at 4 1/2 p.m. We started for sea, had a fine breeze yet the Steamer did not rock much. At sunset we were about 5 miles north of the Bar and quite a number of the boys were singing “N. Y.”, yet I never was any better.”

• “At 10 1/2 in the evening, we came up to the fleet opposite Strong Inlet, and we was hailed by the Gun Boat Rover with Gen. Seymour on board, and he ordered Gen. Strong on board with him and said that things were not yet ready for us to disembark and that we had better return to the Head to prevent being seen by the Rebels on the next morning and ordered us to be back on the 5th at sunset so as to go in on the first of the flood in the evening. Gen. Strong remained with Seymour and went to Folly Island. We all went back to the Head. We had the fastest and much the best boat, hence, we ran away from the rest of them. We arrived at the Head at 11 on the morning of the 5th. The Gen.'s staff and the Col. went on shore to consult with Gen. Gillmore and we laid out in the stream. At 11 a.m. the Steamer Golden Gate came along side with the Officers and a mail for us, as well as all the rest of the Troops at Folly Island and our Brigade.”

• “The rest of our Brigade sailed at 11 a.m. and went to sea, but we did not get off until 12 M., but we went the Beach channel coming out in the Ocean at Edisto Inlet, and we were at least 5 miles ahead of all the rest of the boats, and we there met the U. S. Gun Boat Massachusetts with Adl. Dahlgren and a mail on board, which we have not got yet. He is to be here tonight with 3 more of the Monitors. We then laid to until the rest of the Boats came up and cruised around near Edisto so as to prevent the Rebels from seeing us. At sunset we went on and at 2 p.m. we were at the Bar at Stono and the channel was all buoyed out by the small boats from our Blockaders. We was the first to land, hence, we led the fleet in and commenced to disembark. Had a fine time getting on shore. Some had to land in small boats as there were so many to land that night. However, the whole Brigade was landed together with their baggage and all, and all the Steamers out of sight to sea before daylight.”

• “We formed in line and marched about 4 miles up the beach and bivouacked for the remainder of the night as we supposed, but it was not so. For about the time we got our things off and ready for a nap, orders came from Gen. Strong to move about a mile farther up the beach and there to await further orders. And by the time we got there and ready for a nap, day began to dawn, yet we turned in and the next thing I knew, we were waked up to get our coffee which the 6th Ct. had prepared for us, and we partook of the coffee and hard tack pretty freely.”

• “We found ourselves in the midst of new troops to us, some of those that came here with Foster from N. C. when he came here, not the Brigade that went back to N. C. They are there yet. There was near 7,000 here before we came here and I think there is now at least 12,000 in all. There was two Pa. Regts. came here last night from Beaufort, N. C., the 52nd and 104th and the Negro Regts. are to be here tonight I understand, and they are all encamped in the woods behind the beach, and anyone passing the shore could not tell that there was 500 men on the Island.”

• “At 10 a.m. on the 6th, we got orders to move still further up the beach and encamp, and we moved a mile further up and to where we are now encamped. We are now not more than 2 1/2 miles from the Rebel Batteries on Morris Island. We are within shelling distance of them. If they only knew we were here.”

• “They have thrown a few shells over where we are now but not since we have been here. We got out tents up about dusk last night. We had to cut up 5 trees just where my tent stands, so you can tell we have a nice cool place, shaded all day, yet the ground is none too high for a healthy camp. Yet we are to stay here not more than a day or two if we are successful, which I am pretty sure we will be.”

• “This morning I was up to the end of the timber and within 3/4 of a mile from our chain of Batteries, and I had a splendid view of Fort Sumter and all its surroundings. I had a large Marine Glass and through that I could distinctly see the Sentries in the Fort and count the Guns on the water front of the Ramparts. Could see the Sally Port of Sumter as plain as you could see one of the doors open in J. E. Steelman's house. Beside that we could see Moultrie and Battery Bee, Forts Johnson and Beauregard, and all the Batteries on the north end of Morris Island and could see the exact location of each of them.”

• “Beside we had a good view of Moultrieville, could see the flags on the tops of the houses, and see the Rebel Steamers in the harbor. But a clump of timber on James Island hid Charleston from our view, yet we could see some of the Spires in the city. We could also see the Rebel Pickets on the Island, which is not more than 400 yards of our masked Batteries, yet are as ignorant of them as you are. Morris Island is separated from Folly Island by a narrow channel, not wider than our creek at the dock and at low water we can almost jump across. Along the Morris shore they have a chain of sand Batteries near a mile long with heavy barreled guns sticking up over the Parapets in fill view of our Batteries. They are not at all masked, while we have a chain of masked Batteries about 3/4 of a mile long stretching along on this side of the channel and from 4 to 800 yards from theirs, yet they don't know that we have a gun nearer than 2 miles of their Batteries, or they would shell our daylights out of us in an hour. Yet it is too late now, the Batteries is finished.”

• “We have about 35 rifled guns and 15 ten-inch mortars in position and ready to open on them at any moment. Besides 3 light Batteries of 15 guns that is to be put in position and most of them are in bomb proof Batteries. They will be mounted in 20 minutes as soon as they take them forward with their horses. They could have been mounted a week ago if they had wished it, but they don't want to take the light Batteries forward until they are ready to open on them.”

• “The flag staff has just gone up past here and if the Monitors gets here tonight, the ball will commence early in the morning. If not they will wait for them but they are generally in time for their part of the work, and I doubt not will be here tonight. If so they will open their eyes tomorrow in Charleston. The light Artillery is to be put in Battery tonight and all the guns ready for action in the morning. The 4th is to be the reserve Artillerists. The rest are to be ready to charge at any moment. The guns have full confidence in dismounting every one of their guns on this side of the island in 4 hours at most. Our Batteries are perfectly secure. All our guns bear direct on their Batteries and are mostly bomb proof.”

• “Yesterday afternoon there was near 300 Rebels in bathing in the channel between this and Morris Island and some of them were within 40 yards of one of our Batteries, yet knew nothing of it. Our sharp shooters could have killed every one of them, but they did not want to let them know we were there until we opened on them with our Artillery which will make them dance, I'll bet.”

• “The attack now depends on our Monitors getting here as it is to be a land and Naval attack together. The Gun Boats is to shell them in the front on the short of Charleston Harbor and in the rear along this side of the Island while we shell them in the front on this side and rear, along the harbor, and it will be a splendid engagement and one I am proud to have a hand in, but I must not say too much about it before we see the result, which I think will surely be a great victory on our side. Our Batteries command the whole of Morris Island. We have taken several deserters that say the Rebels have got no more men around Charleston than what it really takes to man the guns. They say their whole force that was here is now with Bragg as they are not all expecting an attack this summer.”

• “All the New Souths
(Newspaper) have stated that we were not going to make a move this summer and that all the available forces would be sent to reinforce some other Division, probably Banks, and the Rebs get the New Souths regular through our Pickets, so they think we have gone to the Miss., but they are sadly mistaken I assure. And next Sunday will find what is left of us on Morris Island I am sure. And the North is as ignorant of our attack as the Rebs are. And the news to them will be as unexpected as to the Rebs, and I doubt not that when you get this, you will also hear of us being on Morris Island or in Charleston City. All the movements of Troops and guns have been in the night and all the boats out to sea before daylight, so no one could tell that there was any force on Folly Island. There is to be no mail leave for the North until this is over and either defeat or a most glorious victory is accomplished.”

• “If defeat, the North will only know that we have been shelling the Rebel Batteries or perhaps a reconnaissance in force. I think Charleston is destined to be ours and that before many days roll around, there will be a regular siege laid to the city, and if we ever get on Morris Island, the city must be ours. When once on Morris Island, we can take Charleston in spite of a 100,000 men. And, rest assured, the 48th will have her share of the laurels, if there is any to be had. Fort Pulaski will never deprive us of any honors again. To take Charleston, men must be killed, and it may be I, yet I hope not.”

• “Yet I would rather die trying to enter Charleston, the heart of Secession, than die in our hospitals. Yet I don't expect either. Until something occurs, I will leave the subject, but will tell you all that happens from day to day. I shall write again very soon. If the mail does not go, they will all come at once and you will have the more to read at once. It would be a great note if after Hunter and Dupont has gained such a name in this department, and been defeated twice in their attempt to take Charleston that Gillmore and Dahlgren take the hot hole of Charleston and gains a name! That will not tell Hunter and Dupont and Secesh their undeserved name.”

• “I see by your letter that the 23rd has by this time been mustered out of service and that William has got home again. I suppose that the reception of the 23rd was a fine affair, and I am glad that you got to see it, and I see that you have returned after a delightful visit to Delaware. I wish I had been with you. I am glad to hear that the folks are so well. I know the Mr. Grubbs whose funeral you heard preached at Siloam Church. I am not acquainted with the young gentleman you spoke of calling on Mary Lizzie, yet I know some of his relatives. I heard of him, however, through young folks. I think he is paying attention to her by some of their cherries and fruit, yet I guess I am far ahead of you all in melons. I have had any quantity of them while on St. Helena. I am well and hope this will find you all the same. I shall write very often. I shall write to M. E. Baldwin today. I am anxious to see the Monitors arrive, and to hear the guns open the bombardment of Morris Island Batteries. I have sent you a New South of July 4th, so you cannot tell by that that we are doing anything at all. I hope to hear from you very soon again. My respects to all. Hoping to see you all very soon, I remain your affectionate son, J. G. Abbott”

What a wonderful travel log from a soldier who would a little over a week later give his life “to take Charleston”. Condition some staining on folds, no fading, a great letter. Cover is well used and it is just the front, but displays great.

#L717NY - Price $495





























































Full Transcription:
In Camp Folly Island, S. C.
July 7th (1863)
Dear Father,
                       I have rec’d your very welcomed letter of June 24th and until the present have not had a minutes time to write. When I rec’d it we were on our way here on the Canonicus. I also rec’d one from M. E. Baldwin the same time. Well, now to our change. On the evening of the 3rd of July, we rec’d marching orders with the rest of the Brigade to be ready to embark early in the morning of the 4th, and we had everything packed up and tents struck at 5 o'clock on the 4th, and as we were on the right of the Brigade, we had to embark last so as to land first. The 9th Maine embarked at 6 a.m., the 7th Ct. left at 8 a.m., the 3rd N. H. at 11 a.m., the 76th Pa. at 2 p.m., the 48th N. Y. at 3 p.m., the 1st N. Y. Indt. Battalion at 5 p.m. Gen. Strong and Staff came on board with us at 4 1/2 p.m. We started for sea, had a fine breeze yet the Steamer did not rock much. At sunset we were about 5 miles north of the Bar and quite a number of the boys were singing “N. Y.”, yet I never was any better. At 10 1/2 in the evening, we came up to the fleet opposite Strong Inlet, and we was hailed by the Gun Boat Rover with Gen. Seymour on board, and he ordered Gen. Strong on board with him and said that things were not yet ready for us to disembark and that we had better return to the Head to prevent being seen by the Rebels on the next morning and ordered us to be back on the 5th at sunset so as to go in on the first of the flood in the evening. Gen. Strong remained with Seymour and went to Folly Island. We all went back to the Head. We had the fastest and much the best boat, hence, we ran away from the rest of them. We arrived at the Head at 11 on the morning of the 5th. The Gen.'s staff and the Col. went on shore to consult with Gen. Gillmore and we laid out in the stream. At 11 a.m. the Steamer Golden Gate came along side with the Officers and a mail for us, as well as all the rest of the Troops at Folly Island and our Brigade. I then got your letter. The rest of our Brigade sailed at 11 a.m. and went to sea, but we did not get off until 12 M., but we went the Beach channel coming out in the Ocean at Edisto Inlet, and we were at least 5 miles ahead of all the rest of the boats, and we there met the U. S. Gun Boat Massachusetts with Adl. Dahlgren and a mail on board, which we have not got yet. He is to be here tonight with 3 more of the Monitors. We then laid to until the rest of the Boats came up and cruised around near Edisto so as to prevent the Rebels from seeing us. At sunset we went on and at 2 p.m. we were at the Bar at Stono and the channel was all buoyed out by the small boats from our Blockaders. We was the first to land, hence, we led the fleet in and commenced to disembark. Had a fine time getting on shore. Some had to land in small boats as there were so many to land that night. However, the whole Brigade was landed together with their baggage and all, and all the Steamers out of sight to sea before daylight. We formed in line and marched about 4 miles up the beach and bivouacked for the remainder of the night as we supposed, but it was not so. For about the time we got our things off and ready for a nap, orders came from Gen. Strong to move about a mile farther up the beach and there to await further orders. And by the time we got there and ready for a nap, day began to dawn, yet we turned in and the next thing I knew, we were waked up to get our coffee which the 6th Ct. had prepared for us, and we partook of the coffee and hard tack pretty freely. We found ourselves in the midst of new troops to us, some of those that came here with Foster from N. C. when he came here, not the Brigade that went back to N. C. They are there yet. There was near 7,000 here before we came here and I think there is now at least 12,000 in all. There was two Pa. Regts. came here last night from Beaufort, N. C., the 52nd and 104th and the Negro Regts. are to be here tonight I understand, and they are all encamped in the woods behind the beach, and anyone passing the shore could not tell that there was 500 men on the Island. At 10 a.m. on the 6th, we got orders to move still further up the beach and encamp, and we moved a mile further up and to where we are now encamped. We are now not more than 2 1/2 miles from the Rebel Batteries on Morris Island. We are within shelling distance of them. If they only knew we were here. They have thrown a few shells over where we are now but not since we have been here. We got out tents up about dusk last night. We had to cut up 5 trees just where my tent stands, so you can tell we have a nice cool place, shaded all day, yet the ground is none too high for a healthy camp. Yet we are to stay here not more than a day or two if we are successful, which I am pretty sure we will be. This morning I was up to the end of the timber and within 3/4 of a mile from our chain of Batteries, and I had a splendid view of Fort Sumter and all its surroundings. I had a large Marine Glass and through that I could distinctly see the Sentries in the Fort and count the Guns on the water front of the Ramparts. Could see the Sally Port of Sumter as plain as you could see one of the doors open in J. E. Steelman's house. Beside that we could see Moultrie and Battery Bee, Forts Johnson and Beauregard, and all the Batteries on the north end of Morris Island and could see the exact location of each of them. Beside we had a good view of Moultrieville, could see the flags on the tops of the houses, and see the Rebel Steamers in the harbor. But a clump of timber on James Island hid Charleston from our view, yet we could see some of the Spires in the city. We could also see the Rebel Pickets on the Island, which is not more than 400 yards of our masked Batteries, yet are as ignorant of them as you are. Morris Island is separated from Folly Island by a narrow channel, not wider than our creek at the dock and at low water we can almost jump across. Along the Morris shore they have a chain of sand Batteries near a mile long with heavy barreled guns sticking up over the Parapets in fill view of our Batteries. They are not at all masked, while we have a chain of masked Batteries about 3/4 of a mile long stretching along on this side of the channel and from 4 to 800 yards from theirs, yet they don't know that we have a gun nearer than 2 miles of their Batteries, or they would shell our daylights out of us in an hour. Yet it is too late now, the Batteries is finished. We have about 35 rifled guns and 15 ten-inch mortars in position and ready to open on them at any moment. Besides 3 light Batteries of 15 guns that is to be put in position and most of them are in bomb proof Batteries. They will be mounted in 20 minutes as soon as they take them forward with their horses. They could have been mounted a week ago if they had wished it, but they don't want to take the light Batteries forward until they are ready to open on them. The flag staff has just gone up past here and if the Monitors gets here tonight, the ball will commence early in the morning. If not they will wait for them but they are generally in time for their part of the work, and I doubt not will be here tonight. If so they will open their eyes tomorrow in Charleston. The light Artillery is to be put in Battery tonight and all the guns ready for action in the morning. The 4th is to be the reserve Artillerists. The rest are to be ready to charge at any moment. The guns have full confidence in dismounting every one of their guns on this side of the island in 4 hours at most. Our Batteries are perfectly secure. All our guns bear direct on their Batteries and are mostly bomb proof. Yesterday afternoon there was near 300 Rebels in bathing in the channel between this and Morris Island and some of them were within 40 yards of one of our Batteries, yet knew nothing of it. Our sharp shooters could have killed every one of them, but they did not want to let them know we were there until we opened on them with our Artillery which will make them dance, I'll bet. The attack now depends on our Monitors getting here as it is to be a land and Naval attack together. The Gun Boats is to shell them in the front on the short of Charleston Harbor and in the rear along this side of the Island while we shell them in the front on this side and rear, along the harbor, and it will be a splendid engagement and one I am proud to have a hand in, but I must not say too much about it before we see the result, which I think will surely be a great victory on our side. Our Batteries command the whole of Morris Island. We have taken several deserters that say the Rebels have got no more men around Charleston than what it really takes to man the guns. They say their whole force that was here is now with Bragg as they are not all expecting an attack this summer. All the New Souths (Newspaper) have stated that we were not going to make a move this summer and that all the available forces would be sent to reinforce some other Division, probably Banks, and the Rebs get the New Souths regular through our Pickets, so they think we have gone to the Miss., but they are sadly mistaken I assure. And next Sunday will find what is left of us on Morris Island I am sure. And the North is as ignorant of our attack as the Rebs are. And the news to them will be as unexpected as to the Rebs, and I doubt not that when you get this, you will also hear of us being on Morris Island or in Charleston City. All the movements of Troops and guns have been in the night and all the boats out to sea before daylight, so no one could tell that there was any force on Folly Island. There is to be no mail leave for the North until this is over and either defeat or a most glorious victory is accomplished. If defeat, the North will only know that we have been shelling the Rebel Batteries or perhaps a reconnaissance in force. I think Charleston is destined to be ours and that before many days roll around, there will be a regular siege laid to the city, and if we ever get on Morris Island, the city must be ours. When once on Morris Island, we can take Charleston in spite of a 100,000 men. And, rest assured, the 48th will have her share of the laurels, if there is any to be had. Fort Pulaski will never deprive us of any honors again. To take Charleston, men must be killed, and it may be I, yet I hope not. Yet I would rather die trying to enter Charleston, the heart of Secession, than die in our hospitals. Yet I don't expect either. Until something occurs, I will leave the subject, but will tell you all that happens from day to day. I shall write again very soon. If the mail does not go, they will all come at once and you will have the more to read at once. It would be a great note if after Hunter and Dupont has gained such a name in this department, and been defeated twice in their attempt to take Charleston that Gillmore and Dahlgren take the hot hole of Charleston and gains a name! That will not tell Hunter and Dupont and Secesh their undeserved name. I see by your letter that the 23rd has by this time been mustered out of service and that William has got home again. I suppose that the reception of the 23rd was a fine affair, and I am glad that you got to see it, and I see that you have returned after a delightful visit to Delaware. I wish I had been with you. I am glad to hear that the folks are so well. I know the Mr. Grubbs whose funeral you heard preached at Siloam Church. I am not acquainted with the young gentleman you spoke of calling on Mary Lizzie, yet I know some of his relatives. I heard of him, however, through young folks. I think he is paying attention to her by some of their cherries and fruit, yet I guess I am far ahead of you all in melons. I have had any quantity of them while on St. Helena. I am well and hope this will find you all the same. I shall write very often. I shall write to M. E. Baldwin today. I am anxious to see the Monitors arrive, and to hear the guns open the bombardment of Morris Island Batteries. I have sent you a New South of July 4th, so you cannot tell by that that we are doing anything at all. I hope to hear from you very soon again. My respects to all. Hoping to see you all very soon, I remain your affectionate son,

J. G. Abbott

Direct to Port Royal, S. C. or elsewhere.