It was our misfortune to have for support a negro regiment, who, by running, caused us to lose our pieces. The fight lasted three hours, when finding his small army so much cut up, the General ordered a retreat. We returned to Jacksonville, 58 miles distant; reached there last night at 12 o'clock. We had 5000 men engaged on our side, and lost 1200, as near as I can learn. The enemy had 15000 men opposed to us, and of course, whipped us badly. Capt. Hamilton is wounded in the left arm severely, and in the hip; Lieutenant Myrick, wounded in left foot, badly - probably will lose some of his toes. Lieut. Dodge, wounded in the left arm, not badly. I am wounded in the right leg about three inches above the ankle joint, not bad by any means. I have had the ball taken out, and think the wound will heal in a few weeks. All of us officers had our horses shot under us. Myrick and Dodge left theirs on the field dead. Captain and myself brought ours off. We are now on board of the steamer, bound for Beaufort, where all of the wounded will be landed except us four officers. We return to Hilton Head to-morrow. The battery remained at Jacksonville, which I think our forces will find difficult to hold, as the enemy were following us closely. Lieutenant Irwin, whose section was not quite so hotly engaged as the balance of us, is now in command of the battery, what there is left of it. He was struck on the little finger of his left hand, but
so slightly hurt that he was capable of performing duty. Taking everything together, we have done pretty sharp work. In ninety hours we have marched 110 miles, fought a battle of three hours duration, got badly whipped, and what there is left of our little army is back again where we started from. Don't feel annoyed or anxious in regard to me, as I will get along first rate, and am probably as well off as if I had not been wounded. All I want is a pair of
crutches, so that I can move without assistance. Shall have a pair as soon as I land. Tell mother she need not be ashamed of me, as the ball entered on the foot of my leg."
Printed in the Boston Herald; March 1, 1864; pg. 4, col. 4.
It is made available here through the courtesy of Thomas Hayes,
Hayes is currently working on a historical reference work, "Letters of the Civil
War," from the newspapers of the cities and towns of Massachusetts. He has researched the Boston Herald, Chelsea Telegraph and Pioneer, Dedham Gazette, Roxbury Gazette, Randolph Transcript, Worcester Transcript and the Malden Messenger. He says, "I have filed, by date, a little over 3,300 letters. These are from the Soldiers, Sailors, Nurses, Correspondents and Politicans. This project started out as a simple endeavor to find that one letter from my Grandfather, Walter A. Hewes, who served in the 1st Mass. Infantry and 4th Mass. Cavalry. To date, no luck, but I have about 30 more papers to research."
Other Letters from Olustee
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