A Union Soldier Vividly Describes The Civil War Battle Of Fair Oaks

June 8, 1862

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A Union Soldier Vividly Describes The Civil War Battle Of Fair Oaks
Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages | SMC 310

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      Background

      Both sides saw about 6000 men killed or wounded, both claimed victory, and although the Battle of Fair Oaks took place just a few scant miles away from Richmond, McClellan’s massive Army halted and went no further. It would be another two years before the Union Army again got that close to Richmond, and almost three years before it captured it – but here, infantryman Strouss notes approvingly that “now our pickets are posted within 4 miles of the city of Richmond.” How that came to be is vividly described in this letter home:

      I have been in the Battle of Fair Oaks and escaped unhurt. It was a very hard battle, the intention of the Rebels was to break through our lines here and get possession of our stores at White House Point. This is the weakest point on our whole line and the Rebels knew it so they made their attack here. But they will not try it here again...they outnumbered us 3 to 1 but still they were unable to defeat us. On the 2nd days fight our men drove them a mile and a half at the Point of the Bayonet and on they went and now our pickets are posted within 4 miles of the city of Richmond. Our advance consisted of Gen. Casey's Division mostly raw troops who were surprised by the Rebels and put to flight which mad it harder for us as they got possession of the woods while we were in the open field. The balls came at us like a hail storm but they fired mostly too high. We got a letter from Capt. Chase this morning he is in the St. Joseph hospital in Philadelphia he says his leg need not be taken off....Our Colonel will probably get well but he is badly wounded in the arm and loins. The Rebels call General Kearney. 'The one armed devil on the white horse' The prisoners we have say that their men have often tried to hit him but cant. I am afraid he will get hit sometime or other for he exposes himself so. He is indeed a brave man.”

      Strouss enlisted as a Private and ended the war a Captain: but Fair Oaks was an early battle, and his hope, that the war would be over soon, was mistaken:

      If God spares my life I hope to be with you before many weeks. I think the Rebels will give up when we get procession of Richmond. I hope when I write to you again it will be from Richmond. Should I fall it will be fighting for freedom and my country.

      Strouss would not fall, but be wounded, in three weeks, at Charles City Cross Roads.

      Autograph Letter Signed, in pencil, 4 pages, octavo, Fair Oaks Station [Virginia], June 8, 1862. To “Dear Mother”

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      Page 1 transcript
      June 8th 1862
      Fairoaks Station 7 Miles from  
      Richmond


      Dear Mother I sent you a letter a few days ago telling you that I had been in the Battle of Fairoaks and escaped unhurt. It was a very hard battle, the intention of the Rebels was to break through our lines here and get possession of our stores at White House Point This is the weakest point our the  whole line and the Rebels knew it- so they made their attack here. But they will not try it here again after so hard a trial as they gave us on the 31st inst-

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      Page 2 transcript
      they outnumbered is 3 to 1 But -still they were unable to defeat us. On the 2nd days fight-- our men drove them a mile and a half at the Point of the Bayonet, and on they went and now our pickets are posted within 4 miles of the city of Richmond.Our advance consisted of Gen Caseys Division mostly Bay troops who were surprised by the Rebels and put to flight which made it harder for us as they got procession of the woods while we were in the open field. The Balls

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      Page 3 transcript
      came at us like a hail storm but they fired mostly to high. We got a letter from Capt Chase this morning he is in the St Joseph hospital in Philadelphia he says his leg need not be taken off and that he had to lay on his back for three weeks. Our Colonel will probably get well but he is badly wounded in the arm and loins. The Rebels call General Kearney "The one armed devil on the white horse" The prisoners we have say that their men have often tried to kill him but cant 

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      Page 4 transcript

      I am afraid he will get hit some time or other for he exposes himself so, He is indeed a brave man. As you are with Martha it of no use for me to write you both. I send my love to you all hoping for your welfare. If god spares my life I hope to be with you before many weeks. I think the Rebels will give up when we get pocession [sic] of Richmond. I hope when I write to you again it will be from Richmond. Should I fall it will be fighting for freedom and my country.

      Your affectionate

      Son

      Ellis C. Strouss