Tuesday, December 18, 2012

1862 December 19 Grace Church Caroline Co Va

Grace Church  Caroline Co Va
                       Dec 19th 1862

My dear Sarah [Nicholas Randolph]

                   I wrote to mother
about ten days ago giving her
an account of my trip into King
George & asking her to write to
Charles Mason to tell him that
the family at Alto was well &
none of their negroes had been
taken. They had only lost about 60
bls of flour & about 400 bus of corn
I suppose you know almost as
much about the fight at Frederick-
-burg as we do from the papers
It came off so quietly that about
four fifths of the army thought
it was just about to commence
when it was all over.  I was all
along the lines on yesterday & saw
the field of battle from one end
to the other.  There has been no
bloodier field in the war
The disproportion between their loss
and ours is greater than I could
have imagined.  I saw 1490 dead
bodies lying in one lot that
did not seem to contain more
than four acres.  According to
the most authentic official reports
they left 3400 dead on the field
after having occupied it for two
days after the fight.  Their dead

[page 2]
outnumbered our killed, wounded,
& missing by four hundred
The whole battle field was the most
dramatic & imposing tableau I have
ever witnessed.  The whole spectacle seem
-ed gotten up for our special
amusement.  The low-grounds of the
Rap-k below F.burg spreads out into
a plain of some miles in width bounded
by a range of low wooded hills which terminate
on the lower side in the Massapomax
low grounds & on the upper in a series
of rather high & abrupt bluffs-
                   & above the town
next to the river.  At one point
in this line of hills a wooded marsh
projects far into the plain.  Below the
Massaponax the hills again come down
to the river & the low grounds are on
the other side of the river which above
the hills on the Stafford side come
boldly down to the river.  Imagine now
this long line wooded hills peopled
with men who have inducement, physical
or mental, to fight desperately, every
little promontory bristling with artillery
the whole line of the rail way which
runs at the foot of the hills & every
hedge-row & ditch gleaming with bayonets
& you have what what[sic] must have
been the impressions of the Yankees
of our position.  Again, stand with men
upon one of the same little promontories
& look out upon the Yankee lines

[page 3]
& see what we saw. Far upon the left
the smoke from the smouldering ruins of
the town & Longstreets campfires seem
to blend togather[sic], while in front and almost
as far as the eye can reach to the right &
left you see the blue coated Yankee
lines extended; well armed, well equipt
& seemingly assured of success  Behind them
the hills seem crowded with artillery
which can hurl its missiles to the very
foot of the hills upon which we stand
The word is given to advance.  How gallantly
they come come on Not a sound is heard
from our side except the sharp cracking
of our skirmishers as they fall back
slowly before the over whelming advance
The air seems alive with the whistling
shot & shell which the enemy seem send
as precursor to their infantry charge
Suddenly a battery of thirty guns from
just where we are standing open upon
the column of attack They falter & reel
& stagger, they rally & break but & rally
again but it is no use flesh & blood
can't stand it.  They retire routed & confused
At that moment an officer gallops
wildly up to Gen Jackson, & exclaims
in almost breathless haste "General, the"
"the enemy have broken through Archers"
left & Gen Gregg says he must have
help or he & Archer will both loose
their positions"  the Gen. turned as quietly
round & order Early's Div. up to support

[page 4]
the centre as if nothing extraordinary had
happened.  Yet every body said after wards that
this was the turning point of the day
In about an hour the footing which the
enemy had gained in the wood was recovered
from them by Trimble & Thomas & they
pursued far into the plain. This was
all I saw of the fight.  From our relative
positions, we could do nothing but beat
back their attacks & this we did to our
entire satisfaction.  I send this letter by
our John who is to bring my  horse back
if John has bought him. Tell him I
will send the money for him at Xmas
I want to get my coat & pants.  I wish
you would send them down by him
                             Yours Truly
                                   M L Randolph

Meriwether Lewis Randolph, 1837-1871, a great grandson of Thomas Jefferson

MSS 8937

1 comment:

  1. Question this attribution. Find Meriwether Lewis Randolph (1810-1837), grandson of TJ. His son, Lewis Jackson Randolph (1837-1840). I am confused about who this letter writer's parents were?


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