MUSEUM  QUALITY

AMERICANA




SPECIALIZING IN ORIGINAL CIVIL WAR MEMORABILIA

7th Connecticut - Describes Use of Gatling Gun in the Wilderness! - Writer Killed 3 Days After Writing this Letter!!

This is perhaps the last letter that Priv. Edmund Doane ever wrote as he was killed 3 days later.  Records say that Doane’s head was “knocked open” – killed while their camp was shelled by Confederate Artillery.  Both he and Lieut. Frank Hull (also of Company G) were killed by the same six pound cannonball.  Doane was first buried next to their camp and then reburied in Point of Rocks Cemetery (Chesterfield County, Va.).  He was eventually moved to City Point National Cemetery in Hopewell, Virginia (Section B, Grave 2595). 

It is very rare to come across a letter that describes the Union “secret weapon” – the Gatling gun.  This Connecticut soldier, Private Edmund E. Doane, Company G of the 7th Connecticut Infantry, describes it (we shall correct his spelling): 


                                            “Yesterday they brought it from the landing a battery called the Gatling Battery.
  
                                It is drawn by one horse.  It is a neat thing to pick off Sharp Shooters.  It is said to shoot 
                                one mile accurate it imitates a corn sheller more than a gun.  It has six barrels, each four 
                                foot long, think and heavy, the ball one half inch the same as a common musket ball.  It 
                                goes with a crank.  The balls are put in a box at the breach of the gun.  Then turn the 
                                crank and it keeps revolving and shooting as fast and long as desired.  Gen. Butler was 
                                trying it.  Plenty of us went to see him the old gent seemed much pleased with it.”


Doane enlisted on September 7th, 1861 and was KILLED IN ACTION ON MAY 31, 1864 AT BERMUDA HUNDRED.  HE SAW ACTION DURING CAPTURE OF FORT PULASKI, SECESSIONVILLE, FRAMPTON’S PLANTATION, POCATALICO, THE ATTACK AND SIEGE OF FORT WAGNER, DREWRY’S BLUFF AND BERMUDA HUNDRED!!

 

 

·         “Pickett duty comes after every third day then we get shelled and troubled with the Sharp Shooters
considerable.   Yesterday we moved camp up near to the entrenchments.  The Rebs line of entrenchments
is in plain sight.  The balls of their Sharp Shooters often drop in our camp.  Their shells as a general thing
go over us unless they burst short but when their open, our artillery dries them up very quick.  Our force
has been drawn away from here with in a day or two but it is kept very still.  There is only enough to hold
our works.  There is plenty of rumors some think that they have gone around to get in the rear of the Rebs

     or to make a dash on Petersburg.  Others think they have crossed the James RR and gone to join Grant but
a soldier is supposed to know nothing.  A few days will tell.”

·         “This morning we were told that there was two spies in our lines dressed in Navy officers suits.  We are to
keep our eyes open for them.  I hope they won’t get away…”

·         “Gen. Butler is with us. After standing around him the Gen. was in a pleasant manner – Well boys you
have seen the machine operate now you had better go to your quarters.”

·         “The news seems to be very encouraging from Grant.  I hope he will meet the success for I think the whole
thing depends upon him.”

 


This great content letter is written in pencil – we wish it were darker pencil, the inside two pages being a little dark than the outside two.  It is all quite readable and of course you have our transcription.  If you like descriptions of weapons, here is a real winner!

#L248 - Price $895




                    Transcription:
                                                                                                                                                      In the Wilderness, Va.
                                                                                                                                                        Sat. May 28th, 1864

                                Sister Nancy

            I received your of the 22 yesterday was pleased to once more here from home
for it had been so long I thought you had forgotten me.  I had written three and
received none from you.  Now I tell you there is nothing that keeps up the spirits of
a soldier like hearing from home often.  Don’t hesitate to write for fear that I shall
not get it, we get mail every day.  New York papers the next day after they are
printed.  Direct as usual Ft. Monroe and I shall get them.  The last letter contained
one 50 dollar bill which father can you see if he wants or put in the bank for me. 
Since my last the 7th has been in no fight.  Pickett duty comes after every third day
then we get shelled and troubled with the Sharp Shooters considerable.   Yesterday
we moved camp up near to the entrenchments.  The Rebs line of entrenchments is in
plain sight.  The balls of their Sharp Shooters often drop in our camp.  Their shells
as a general thing go over us unless they burst short but when their open, our
artillery dries them up very quick.  Our force has been drawn away from here with
in a day or two but it is kept very still.  There is only enough to hold our works. 
There is plenty of rumors some think that they have gone around to get in the rear
of the Rebs or to make a dash on Petersburg.  Others think they have crossed the
James RR and gone to join Grant but a soldier is supposed to know nothing.  A few
days will tell.

            This morning we were told that there was two spies in our lines dressed in
Navy officers suits.  We are to keep our eyes open for them.  I hope they won’t get
away.  Cal and Good are well.  I saw Joseph G. night before last, was well.  Gen.
Butler is with us.  I think Gen. Smith was with those that left.  Yesterday they
brought it from the landing a battery called the Gatling Battery.  It is drawn by
one horse.  It is a neat thing to pick off Sharp Shooters.  It is said to shoot one mile
accurate it imitates a corn sheller more than a gun.  It has six barrels, each four
foot long, think and heavy, the ball one half inch the same as a common musket ball. 
It goes with a crank.  The balls are put in a box at the breach of the gun.  Then turn
the crank and it keeps revolving and shooting as fast and long as desired.  Gen.
Butler was trying it.  Plenty of us went to see him the old gent seemed much pleased
with it.  After standing around him the Gen. was in a pleasant manner – Well boys
you have seen the machine operate now you had better go to your quarters.

            As for news probably you get it all in the papers.  We only live from hand to
mouth.  As Father used to say we are always awaiting orders.  We know not where
the next hour will find us.  The news seems to be very encouraging from Grant.  I
hope he will meet the success for I think the whole thing depends upon him.

            I don’t think of anything that will interest you.  Give my respects to all
enquires.  Tell Emily to write a letter.  From father would be read with interest.

            I suppose it is asked for him to write but he can do the composing and you
the writing.  Write soon and often.

                                                                                                    From your brother soldier,

                                                                                                                                                E. E. Doane