George Wolcott 1866
George Wolcott, a member of the class of 1866, wrote the following letter while serving in the Civil War.
"My Dear Uncle and Aunt:
"Another battle has been fought, another victory won, and I am left to tell the tale unharmed and well, so please banish any fears that may have arisen in your mind concerning my welfare and safety. I would have relieved your anxiety long before this, but from the time the Army began to move forward untill [sic] it was safe again on this side of the Rappahannock no mails were allowed to come or go further than Acquia Creek, hence my long silence.
"To give you a faithful description of the battles would require much time and be necessarily a tedious task, and as I have mailed some papers to Hattie containing very good accounts, I will only mention a few incidents that came under my respectially notice and relate my experiences in some things. Our corps (5) was not entirely engaged and our Division not at all so we occupied rifle pits for several days and held ourselves in rediness [sic] to give the enemy battle if they attacked us on the extreme right. This they declined to do which was a wise move for them, for Gen. Griffins batteries which our brigade supported would have made sad havoc in their ranks if they attempted it.
"The heaviest fighting was in Saturday night and Sunday on which day (Sunday) it lasted 6 hours in succession. The grandest sight I witnessed was about 5 o'clock Sabbath afternoon, when a large body of rebels came boldly out of the woods in front of our batteries, formed in line of battle and fired a volley upon us. At this moment Gen. Griffins batteries on the left threw a murderous fore of grape, canister and shell among their ranks which mowed them down terribly and compelled them to beat a hasty retreat for the woods. It was grand, terrible, awful to see such brave men fall. The rebels fight with a desperation unequalled. We captured 47 prisioners after the engagement which lasted but a few moments.
"Gen Hooker might be seen riding about on his gray steed at all times regardless of shot or shell. On Wednesday morning we were called up to pack our things and prepare to evacuate the place, our troops on the left having taken and lost Fredericksburg. There was some disappointment manifested but it has long since worn away and the men have the most unbounded faith in Gen. Hooker. I said another 'victory' has been 'won,' yes although many in the North do not see it in that light. I think then result of good generalship which stole two days march upon the enemy, crossed the Rappanhannock and Rapidan Rivers and succeeded in reaching Chancellorville without losing any life with such an army was indeed a greater victory achieved than if we had fought to obtain it. The latter place was only evacuated by the rebels 3 hrs. Before we arrived there at 'Old Tavern' and here they had been to work all night + up to 9 A.M. that morning digging rifle pits which were used y us afterwards advantageously. 'Surely he hath digged a pit and fallen into the ditch which he hath made.' Again our engagement at Chancellorville resulted in great loss to the rebels, besides keeping them concentrated and thereby giving Stonemen a good chance to commit depredations with his cavalry. The rebel Gen. Lee at Fredericksburg sent word to Hooker a day or two since that their supplies from Richmond was cut off and our wounded were suffering for want of proper care. Dr. Spence of our regiment went over yesterday but has returned. As he was paroled to reveal nothing to advantage he does not say much about them. He was treated very gentlemanly indeed.
"There were a good many dead rebel bodies scattered around the city. Our ambulances were busy yesterday in bringing our dead across the river. We had 4 men wounded in this Regt. two of whom belonged to our company. The 2 years and 9 months men are leaving every day for the North to be discharged as their time of service has expired.
"The weather is extremely hot here. We are under marching orders and have been since we returned. The Baltimore Clipper yesterday reported us across the river and pursuing rebels at a rapid pace--it is all a [indecipherable].
"I have lately rec'd a letter from Julia. She is at 97 1st St. Albany and is well. Uncle William writes that he and his people are also in good health. I have not had but one letter from mother in 9 months. I hear through Grandpa White that she has moved in a house near the post office and had 7 borders besides her mother, sister in law and child. She is well.
"I saw Charlie Hamlin just before the advance of the army. He was here and looks well and hearty.
"I have nothing of interest else to write this morning so I will close. Please remember me to Aunt Etta and family and also my kindest regards to Hattie.
"Your affectionate nephew,"
"Geoege B. Walcott
"44 Regt. NYSV Co E.