Letter to the Editor,
The Indiana Messenger
Battle of Seven Pines
June 7, 1862
Source: The Indiana Messenger, June 18, 1862
Transcribed by Shirley Pierce
Camp Seven Pines, Va.,
June 7, 1862
What has transpired in this part of the army will doubtless be interesting to most of your many readers, and I know of no other way in which they can be informed as well as through the columns of your paper. I will confine this letter principally to the actions of the 105th Reg., in the great battle on the Chickahoming, (or the Battle of Seven Pines as it is called here) as I know but little of what transpired elsewhere. Jameson's Brigade, to which the 105th is attached, has been stationed about two miles below Savage Station, on the Richmond and York River Rail Road, from the 29th till the 31st of May. Some of the Regts. were guarding the Rail Road, others doing fatigue duty &c. Saturday, the 31st, we were enjoying ourselves as usual in camp, when, about 1 o'clock, a heavy fire of musketry opened in front, some 4 miles distant. At first it was thought to be a mere skirmish with the pickets.
Not long however till the roar of cannon and musketry told us that the ball had opened. One Brigade was called out and stacked arms, when the men returned to their quarters to wait further orders. About half past two o'clock, the order came to move forward. The men were in high spirits thinking that the 105th would now have an opportunity of trying its hand with our secesh friends, and truly we had a chance. On we hurried to the scene of action as fast as we could go, double quickling a good part of the road. The men were nearly exhausted when we got to the field, as it was very warm; but we went into line of battle and ordered forward. Before we were formed in line our brave Captain A. C. Thompson, fell, being badly wounded. He however urged us on. We here labored under great disadvantage, having to pass through fallen timber and swamps, which was very difficult to do; but the brave 105th and 63d advanced, driving the rebels before them. (I would state that the 105th and 63d were on the left of the Brigade, and the 57th P.V. and 87th N.Y. on the right). We gained the ground which our men had lost, but the 57th and 87th were over powered and had to give way, and as a natural consequence the left had to fall back, much against our will, for we had succeeded so well in gaining the ground. It was about half-past 7 o'clock when we came out of the battle. It was some time before our Reg. got gathered up, and when it was together it presented rather a sad appearance. That evening when the battle creased the rebels had possession of the battle field, which they held till Sabbath morning, when they were driven back by fresh troops.
It is proper to remark that Companies C and G of the 105th were on duty that day, and were not in the engagement, and besides this there were details of from 12 to 20 men of each company in fatigue duty, and of course they were absent. From this it is evident that the Reg. was not in good condition for going into an engagement at that time. Our loss in the battle was pretty heavy, considering the number of men engaged. First I must record the death of my dear brother Calvin, who fell shortly after we were engaged. He had fired but a few shots when a ball from the enemy laid him low on the field of battle. I was with him at this moment and my feelings cannot be imagined as I saw his life blood flow away. It was indeed a horrible sight, still I had the consolation that he died nobly defending his county. I must mention also the fall of Sergt. T. Robert Pattison. He was missing till Monday, when he was found on the field. The last that was seen of him in the battle, he turned to his companions and said "Boys they are running, come on."
We have reason to believe he advanced a short distance and then retreated as he was found near where Calvin lay. He was beloved by all who knew him and there were none braver on the field than was he. Out of the regiment 33 were killed and some 140 wounded. (List of killed and wounded at end of letter.)
As to the conduct of the 105th in the Engagement, I refer you to the report of Brig. Gen. Jameson. Some of our Indiana boys showed the true spirit of soldiers, on the field, among them Serg't Samuel McHenry, who went forward with undaunted bravery. While in the engagement he had a small confab with a Rebel Lieutenant, and succeeded in capturing an elegant Colt's Revolver.
J. M. Bruce had the honor of conducting two of the secesh warriors to Head Quarters. Also Vincent Keiflein, George McHenry and Geo. J. Reed, distinguished themselves nobly. They were first to enter the field and the last to leave it.
We have been laying in reserve since; our camp however, has been moved up to near the battle ground. We buried our dead Monday and Tuesday, but many of the rebels were not buried till after that time; in fact, Maj. M. M. Dick told me he was some rebels unburied yesterday. The battle field presented an awful appearance, but what else could be expected after such a battle as was fought here? Our loss was very heavy, but we gained a great victory, one that has done much toward the taking of Richmond.
All has been quiet during the week; occasionally some heavy firing in front causing some excitement; nothing of importance however has transpired.
But before this reaches you, another battle may be fought, and the Union Army may be in the famous city of Richmond. Every day our men are coming nearer their object and soon this stars and stripes will wave proudly over all rebeldom. At least this is our hope, and that period when peace shall reign triumphant can not arrive too soon.Yours Truly,
M[ilton]. W. Adair
(Captain, Company K, 105th Regiment)
List of Killed and Wounded
Company I, 105th PA Regiment, Capt. KirkKilled: James Cr?el, Joseph Hill, Lewis Findley, Wm. Wilson.
Wounded: Capt K. Kirk, Joseph Taylor, George Young, George Hall, Washington Hoover, John Hines, John Vanhorn, Peter Spencer, John Miller, Charles Gill, David Willard, Hugh M. Steel, Thos. Anderson, Henry Depp.
Missing: John Smith, James O Brien.
Company K, 105th PA Regiment, Capt. ThompsonKilled: Corp. O. S??lar, Sergt. Breneman Sylvis, Sergt. J. R. Patterson
Wounded: Capt. Thompson, Joseph Anderson, J. M. Turney, G. J. Snyder, Jacob Baker, Jno. ?othell, Josiah Henry, Thos Hudson, Jno. Kuhns, John McCaugaey, Benj. Thwine, Isaac Miller, John Miller, J Shields, James H. Peelor.
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