SEPTEMBER 1861 UNION SOLDIER LETTER — PVT. SAMUEL B. WALKINGTON, JR, Co. “I”, 2nd NEW JERSEY [GETTYSBURG REGIMENT]

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Dated “Camp Lt. Johns / Fairfax C. Va. / Sept. 1st, 1861. 4 pp. in clear pencil on unlined paper w/colored patriotic vignette in upper left corner. Else VG and entirely legible.

Samuel B. Walkington was enlisted and mustered as a private in Co. “I”, 2nd New Jersey Infantry, 5/30/1861. He was promoted to Corporal 10 /01/1862 and to 1st Sergeant, 6/1/63. He is also listed as a POW (date and place not stated (paroled). Discharged at Trenton, NJ, 2/28/1865.

The 2nd New Jersey Infantry was mustered in July 1861. After serving in the Defenses of Washington, it was engaged in McClellan’s 1862 Peninsula Campaign and was engaged in most the major campaigns and battles of the Army of the Potomac, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, and were attached to Sheridan’s forces in the 1864 Shenandoah Campaign before reverting the Siege of Petersburg and being present at Appomattox. During service the unit lost 96 killed and mortally wounded and 69 by disease for a total of 165.

In this letter Pvt. Walkington narrates a highly interesting stretch of picket duty. Text:

“We left camp Thursday morning to go out on picket guard about five and a half miles from camp to Bancroft Mills one of the worst positions to hold that can be imagined as it would be a guard matter to make a safe retreat from it in case of an attack from a large force of the rebels, as the mill is situated in a ravine surrounded on all sides by very steep hills from the tops of which any body in the ravine might be blowed to pieces, but to resume.

Our company arrived there at about twelves o’clock, and immediately proceeded to post pickets along all the roads leading to the mills. We went along the road to the right of the mill about a quarter of a mile, and were about to post a picket of four men, when on suddenly looking to our left we found we were immediately under a rebel battery on a high hill only about half a mile distant, and which commanded the road on which we were, and also Bailey’s Crossroads about three quarters of a mile from where we were. We were under command of Charles Danforth, and turned right back, and posted our picket under cover from the battery, and then the rest of us turned back and proceeded to the road to the left of the mill til we came to a toll gate where we posted another picket of four men, or which I was one; the rest proceeded to the toll house about twenty yards distant and enquired of the man if there any rebels around, he said there was not, and the Lieut. Proceeded to post a picket back of the house.

At this minute I spied an officer, and a man coming across a field. They proved to be the Generals and a private who gave orders to go back about a half a mile. I went up to tell Danforth to come back, and found the men with their pieces cocked standing behind the trees. On looking through the trees I found they had come across a party of rebels who had on discovering our men dodged behind the trees, and retreated back. We then advanced the pickets previously posted., and went back about a mile to a safter position where we remained all night on guard, and here we were relieved next morning by Company F who remained on three days and had a skirmish. Had one man wounded and I believe killed two of the rebels, the next picket to us…also had a brush with the enemy in which they had two killed, the funeral service were to day. Sunday, but must close. I am in first rate spirits…love to Tom and Julia and all the rest…from your affectionate son.”

Fine action letter. Solid 2nd New Jersey collectible. In protective sleeve.  [JP] [ph:L]

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