“I suppose, dear one, you have mourned me as one lost among the killed or wounded”
Parole Camp, Annapolis Maryland
Sunday, May 17, 1863
[sketch of man drinking coffee in tent, eagle with banner reads “LIBBY PRISON RICHMOND, MAY, 1863”, under sketch says “made in Libby Prison Richmond May the 9th 1863 by P.. Dumont 146 Regt NY Vols”]
Dear and beloved wife,,
Thanks be to God that I am alive and well and God knows how I hope this may find you the same. I suppose long before now you are thinking that I am killed or else taken prisoner. We left Camp the next morning after I wrote that last letter and little did I think it would come true so quick what I spoke about. On the 27th we commenced moving towards the [missing word], marched all day and camped on old Camp Misery. On the 28th it commenced raining but we marched all day. Crossed the Rappahannock at 12 o’clock, the Enemy retreating before us. Took quite a number of prisoners without firing a gun. Reached the Rapidan River about dark. Here we had to pull off all our clothes and wade the River up to our waist and the water was bitter cold. Some kept their clothes on and laid in them wet all night here. Our Lieut. Col. told us this would be a grand thing to tell our sweethearts of when we got home.
On the 29th we got up very early in rain and mud marched all day, fording quite a number of small streams., the 146 ordered to United States to capture a Rebel force there. When we came upon them they fled in great haste, leaving behind them dough they were mixing for bread. Camped in a dense forest for the night. On the 30th we marched all through the woods, backwards and forwards, taking some prisoners, and at night camped near Chancellorsville where we had an order read to us congratulating our Corps on its’ success, and said now the Rebels had to come out and fight us on fair grounds or else make an unglorious retreat. This Came from Hooker. After dark 10 men out of each Company in our Regt. went out in front near the Rebels and done picket duty all night.
May the 1: this morning drawed in our pickets and dealt out 20 rounds of extra ammunition to each man. About 8 o’clock our Division began to move to the front. The infantry Regulars went in and opened the fight. Our Regt., the 5th N.Y. and the 140th brought up the third line of battle. Everybody said it was the most dangerous spot to form a line of Battle they ever saw. We made a flanking movement through the woods and while going through we had to halt very frequently. At one of these Wm. Givens had his leg badly broken by a piece of shell. A piece of it struck me on the calf of the right leg as big as a marble, but it had lost its force. It only hurt for a little while but it is black and blue yet. I stood close to Givens when he was struck. Another one, Menzo [?] S. Gibbs, had the top of his skull blown off by the explosion of a shell, covering Fletch Dimbleby with blood.
After this we moved to the left in line of Battle and the 146 Regt. was ordered by Gen. Sykes to support Weed’s Battery. We immediately moved to the right and laid about 20 paces in rear of the Battery. Shortly after, Co. B of the 146 was ordered off to the right to skirmish, they being on the right of the Battalion. Shortly after, Co. A was ordered to follow, only farther on the right. Here one of our Company got badly wounded in the arm.
The Rebs poured volley after volley into us but we were in a deep woods and they could not see more than one or two of us at a time. Soon they advanced in line of Battle and we had to fall back, there being only two Companies of us. Then they heard us running through the woods and they opened a deadly fire through the woods but we escaped unhurt, though the woods was alive with bullets.
Then we got down where the Battle had raged the hardest and the Capt. happened to think he had not been ordered to fall back. He thought he had better go back again. So he told us to follow him as far as he went. Most of the Company done so. We had not gone far when we halted and heard them coming through the woods. The Captain told me to come with him and we advanced up as far as a rail fence. The Captain jumped over it and I laid down and stuck my gun through the fence, ready to fire when they come in sight. The Capt. said he thought it was our Regt. coming round to skirmish with us. But the brush was so thick you could not see them until they came right upon us. The first I knew the Capt. made a leap over the fence and about 200 balls followed after him. They fired in the direction I lay and it would have been certain death to me to have moved. As it was, I happened to look to the right of me. Along the fence there stood a Rebel with his gun leveled at my head, only about 20 feet from me. To of withdrawn my gun back through the fence and fired at him would have been impossible for he could easily of shot me before I could of done the first thing. So there was only one course to pursue and that was to surrender and be made a prisoner of war.
They took my gun and cartridge box away from me and marched me in their lines where I came across the first Lieut. of our Company. We kept together and was marched around considerable until night when we were put under charge of the Provost guard and they marched us to a place where they had about 15 more of our Co. prisoner. They had about a hundred in all. I will mention their names. There was Dimbleby, Sergt Leary and myself, the first Lieut. E. R. [?] Mattison, John Latham. James Ward. John Weeb [?], Alonzo Murry. John [Klemson?], Wm. A. Palmer. John Plunkett. Michael Keating. Jos. Corrigan. Timothy Larmour Thos. Jones. A. Parks. And the Captain was wounded in the arm and leg and also made prisoner. I can’t think of all their [names] just now.
The next day they started us for the railroad to go to Richmond, but when we got near the Depot they heard it was all torn up by our Calvary, so they marched us 2 days and one whole night without any rest or any thing to eat. At last we brought up at Hanover Junction where we got four hard tacks and a quarter pound of pork for a day’s rations. I had four dollars and a half when I arrived there and I spent it in the same day for something to eat to stop my hunger. You may not credit this very well, but let me here say that in Richmond you may pay 10 dollars for a breakfast and not an extra one at that.
We remained at Hanover Station until May the 7th when we started on foot at 12 o’clock for Richmond, distance 25 miles. We reached it the same night but remained outside of the City. This was the hardest march I ever had, 25 miles in a half day. It was more than some of the boys could endure. On the morning of the 8th we were confined in Libby Prison at Richmond. The people called us yanks and Damned Yankees and Blue Bellies while passing through the town. We were paroled on the same day. Here we lived very scantily, one quarter of a loaf of soft bread as big as our 5 cent loaf and a quarter of a pound of salt pork was all we had to eat for one day. This we drawed about dinner time of each day. I ate coffee grounds to help stop my hunger.
We lived this way until the 13th when we left our prison and started again on foot for City Point on the James River, distance from Richmond 40 miles. We marched all day up until 10 o’clock at night on the account of rain and darkness. Two men were badly hurt and one killed by falling down embankments. I and Fletch marched together holding of one another’s hands to keep [missing words?]. I never saw such a time in all my life, speaking the truth. You could not see your hands before your face. The prisoners stopped in the road and would not go any farther, so we stayed where we stopped until morning. We started again and got to City Point at 12 o’clock where lay our transports to take us away. There was four of them. Fletch and me got on the Ocean Steamer S. R. Spaulding. Here we got plenty to eat, one loaf of bread and all the meat we could eat. They took 12 hundred on our boat and started for Fortress Monroe. Got there about 9 o’clock the next morning, where we stopped for orders. About 3 or four o’clock we started for the Parole Camp Md. where we are for the present, one mile from Annapolis. We have drawed all new clothes on the account of being lousy. We got covered with them in Libby Prison.
I suppose, dear one, you have mourned me as one lost among the killed or wounded, but thanks be to God I am neither one. I was in hopes that I might come home when I got here but they say it can’t be done. I would like you to send me some money for I am in great need of some and perhaps it may be possible for me to come after all. I shall try my best to come home as soon as I get a letter from you. Direct your Letter to Sergt. P.L. Dumont Co A 146 Regt. N.Y. Vols Camp Parole Annapolis Maryland. Excuse me for not writing more for I am in a hurry to send this to let you know that I am amongst the living. God bless you and yours, my dear one. Give my love to my folks.
From your Husband,
Peter L. Dumont
I don’t know any thing about Tom as I was taken in the first day’s battle.