059. Willis Keith to Anna Bell Keith -- June 30, 1862

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    Dr. Willis W. Keith to his mother, wife of the Rev. Paul Trapier Keith of Charleston June 30, 1862 My Dear Mama, I am now on the road rushing from the scene of the recent battle to head off Genl. McClellan on the Richmond side. I suppose that the next great battle I will be engaged in too. It is a perfect wonder to me how any of us escaped there were such odds against us at the place where we were immediately engaged. we started on Wednesday from our camp, and the next afternoon got under their shells, but that was at a long distance off. The next morning, Friday, our Regiment fired the first gun in the great battle of the day. At half after 5 o'clock in the morning ours, and the 1st Col. Hamilton were thrown forward into a thicket where a brigade of Yankees were encamped; we had none killed in that brush but some wounded and the whole brigade ran like sheep before our two regts. The scoundrels fired at me repeatedly, while I was dressing wounds. We went on driving them before us, the whole division on our side moving on. We had skirmishing all the way. About three o'clock they brought a wounded man to me to dress in a piece of woods, and while I was dressing his wounds the commenced to shell the woods thinking that we had a force in there. And such a hail of shells as there was, you cannot imagine, without having experienced it. It's an awfully solemn feeling to know that there is a likelihood of your being launched into eternity at any moment. I rushed from the tree behind which I was standing to dress the wound of a man who was brought behind another, when a ball came, and passed entirely through the tree, when I had hardly left it and killed a man who was standing just by me. From there I went on with the Regt., and we had a respit of about an hour, lying on the side of a hill while the Yankees were firing over us. But at the end of that time we were formed into line, and General Gregg gave the order "1st and 12th Regt.:charge," And then came a scene to which all before was mere child's play. It seems that about 6 or 7000 men met our 6 or 700 and such a fire! they were behind their entrenchments and had cleared a space through which we had to pass to charge them. The fire was terrific. It seemed to me, that every branch and twig and leaf was cracking round my head. One of my nurses was shot down by me. The bullets came thicker than hale. We lost about a hundred and twenty men in that one charge. Only 18 killed dead, but a good many[End Page 1] more have died since. We did not carry quite 300 into the charge, so that nearly half were shot down. Of course we failed in that one charge to drive them from their position, but the shattered remains of what we had went forward with the next charge, and the Yankees were driven back. Two Rhetts were killed, and I am afraid Shubrick Hayne was mortally wounded. I am hurried to get this letter off, so I must stop. I will send you a fuller account of the fight in my next. Your own affectionate, W. [End Page 2]
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    Dr. Willis W. Keith to his mother, wife of the Rev. Paul Trapier Keith of Charleston June 30, 1862 My Dear Mama, I am now on the road rushing from the scene of the recent battle to head off Genl. McClellan on the Richmond side. I suppose that the next great battle I will be engaged in too. It is a perfect wonder to me how any of us escaped there were such odds against us at the place where we were immediately engaged. we started on Wednesday from our camp, and the next afternoon got under their shells, but that was at a long distance off. The next morning, Friday, our Regiment fired the first gun in the great battle of the day. At half after 5 o'clock in the morning ours, and the 1st Col. Hamilton were thrown forward into a thicket where a brigade of Yankees were encamped; we had none killed in that brush but some wounded and the whole brigade ran like sheep before our two regts. The scoundrels fired at me repeatedly, while I was dressing wounds. We went on driving them before us, the whole division on our side moving on. We had skirmishing all the way. About three o'clock they brought a wounded man to me to dress in a piece of woods, and while I was dressing his wounds the commenced to shell the woods thinking that we had a force in there. And such a hail of shells as there was, you cannot imagine, without having experienced it. It's an awfully solemn feeling to know that there is a likelihood of your being launched into eternity at any moment. I rushed from the tree behind which I was standing to dress the wound of a man who was brought behind another, when a ball came, and passed entirely through the tree, when I had hardly left it and killed a man who was standing just by me. From there I went on with the Regt., and we had a respit of about an hour, lying on the side of a hill while the Yankees were firing over us. But at the end of that time we were formed into line, and General Gregg gave the order "1st and 12th Regt.:charge," And then came a scene to which all before was mere child's play. It seems that about 6 or 7000 men met our 6 or 700 and such a fire! they were behind their entrenchments and had cleared a space through which we had to pass to charge them. The fire was terrific. It seemed to me, that every branch and twig and leaf was cracking round my head. One of my nurses was shot down by me. The bullets came thicker than hale. We lost about a hundred and twenty men in that one charge. Only 18 killed dead, but a good many[End Page 1] more have died since. We did not carry quite 300 into the charge, so that nearly half were shot down. Of course we failed in that one charge to drive them from their position, but the shattered remains of what we had went forward with the next charge, and the Yankees were driven back. Two Rhetts were killed, and I am afraid Shubrick Hayne was mortally wounded. I am hurried to get this letter off, so I must stop. I will send you a fuller account of the fight in my next. Your own affectionate, W. [End Page 2]
Title:
059. Willis Keith to Anna Bell Keith -- June 30, 1862
Creator:
Wilkinson and Keith Families
Date:
1862-06-30
Description:
[Typescript] Willis - 12th Regiment, South Carolina Volunteers - writes from near Richmond on charging with the 1st Regiment, under orders of General Gregg. He reports great loss of life including two "Rhetts" and Shubrick Hayne. Willis notes he is next to head off Union General McClellan.
Collection:
Wilkinson-Keith Family Papers
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Manuscripts
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Gregg, John, 1798-1878, Confederate States of America. Army, McClellan, George Brinton, 1826-1885
Geographic Subject:
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
Shelving Locator:
Mss 0111
S.C. County:
Charleston County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
image/jpeg
Digitization Specifications:
600 ppi, 24-bit depth, color, Epson Expression 10000XL scanner, Archival Master is a tiff.
Copyright Status Statement:
Digital image copyright 2010, The College of Charleston Libraries. All rights reserved. For more information contact The College of Charleston Library, Charleston, SC 29424.