Transcribed from Civil War era newspaper articles from the New Castle Courant. Spellings (or misspellings of names) left as originally printed in the article.
CAMP WESSELL, near Harrison's Landing, July 23, 1862.
G. D. Kuester, Editor of Journal -
Dear Sir: As this is a pleasant evening and I have nothing of importance to do, I shall endeavor to give you a brief account of our travels since June 23. On the 24th of June, as we were attending to our duty as soldiers, the order came to pack up everything and be ready to march at a moments notice. We were first in line and were expecting to have a heavy days march to perform, but were only marched to a nice field about two hundred yards from our camp, where we were furnished with picks and shovels and we were obliged to dig rifle pits. We all thought that was a nice way to march or to fight, but we all worked in good spirits and soon finished it. Gen. Casey and his staff then came to inspect the work which was done very well. In the evening the right wing of our regiment was ordered back to camp, while the left was ordered to remain on the field to guard the rifle pits, and also to give information when the enemy approached; but as we had nothing to disturb us on that night, we furnished guard sufficient to be placed around the enclosures of the left wing of the One hundred and third. We then took the ground for our beds, as we had nothing to cover or shelter us from the dew, which is very heavy in Virginia, though nothing to be compared with the due at our own native place.
On the morning of the 25th of June we were ordered to camp to get breakfast and be ready to march at a moments notice. We were marched below Gen. Casey's head-quarters and formed in line of battle and stood in that position two hours or more when the army began to move across the Chickahominy. We then camped ten miles from the Chickabhominy. - The day was very warm and dusty and many of our men wearied out, laid down by the road side to rest; we camped in an open field where we remained until the evening of the 27th, when we again took-up our line of march till the morning of the 28th.
During the night watch we would stop sometimes for about five minutes at a time and fall asleep; the commander would give the order to close up 103d; but slumber had overcome us, and it took somewhat longer to fall in than usual. - Abut ten o'clock we came to a place where we camped and got breakfast, after which we fell into a sound slumber; and dreams came over us of past scenes and pleasures at out quiet homes; but we were soon startled by the cry of "fall in 103d We thought at first that we were about to have an encounter, but we were only called out to receive our pay. - Good news. After the mustering was over the division of infantry, cavalry and artillery was formed in line of battle awaiting the approach of the enemy till evening. You must remember that they were fighting in our rear; and Generals Hooker and Kearney who are fighting men and had command of the rear guard when the army was moving from the center lines to the James River, which is now our present position.
But I must not forget, as I pass along to speak of the Reserve Corps under Gen. M'Call; they fought for five days and marched at night. During all that time they had but little rest, and fought as bravely as any division that was ever on the field of battle. The Mount Jackson Boys lost their battery and twenty men in killed, wounded and missing, of whom I will mention Wesley Tait; he was seen to fall by Webster Taylor one of his comrades, who told me of the affair. The rebels came in such force that they could not get him away; but his wound is but slight, which nature will soon cure; he is in the hands of the rebels who treat our wounded well, as far as we can learn from those who were left at the battle of Seven Pines, on May 31. They treated them with the greatest respect; the Surgeons dressed their wounds and the men carried them and laid them in easy positions till our attendants came to their relief which was on Sunday morning. I shall not weary you with stating facts so far back, but suffice to say in connection with the bravery of the famous Co. K, which was in the hottest of the contest of the day; they stood to the work bravely, every man to his post; while all around you could see the dead dropping and the stragglers fleeing. We had but one commissioned officer present on that day belonging to the company, which was Lieut. D. M. Spence, who kept his men together and rallied them with as much bravery as any other officer on the field.
I have just came in from picket duty, and I feel a little wearied as I lost my sleep last night by the mosquitoes of which there is an abundance and of enormous size, apparently looking as if they could carry a soldier on their delicate backs. The picket line is two miles and a half from camp in an open field, and it gives us some life to look on the green growing clover which keeps me in mind of days past never to return. The regiment is recruiting in health and the boys are in good spirits which give better prospects to the regiment in future.
DEATH OF SERGEANT MAPES.
The following letters conveying intelligence of the last hours and death of Sergeant J. C. Mapes, were received by his mother, and have been handed to us for publication:
Newburn, N. C.
Dec. 28th, 1862
MY DEAR MADAM:
Your son expressed an earnest wish that I would write to you. I could wish to have a more favorable communication to make, but God's Holy will designs otherwise. To that Divine Fiat we must all submit, and the more resignedly we do so, the calmer and gentler will be the blow that strikes us.
Good Captain Fahansteck I presume has already informed you of your dear boy's wound received in the battle of White Hall and his subsequent danger. It remains for me only to fulfill his request to you, in which he intreats you not to grieve or fret, and to assure you that he has every care and attention that can be given to him in the way of clever surgeons and kind nurses. He is somewhat easier today, but I cannot flatter you with hopes of his recovery. Last night he was delirious and to-day the mid is wandering at times. He speaks much about you in particular, fearing you will fret. He mentions likewise his father, brothers, and is making efforts to resign himself calmly to his expected end. He does so with much piety, which speaks well of your early training. He alludes to it himself and tells me what a pious good mother he has. He seems very happy to have Sisters with him and it is a consolation to them to do all they can to alleviate his sufferings. He wants for nothing in the way of delicacies or food suitable to his ease, and his attendants are the best that may be. This is the only comfort in my power to offer you in your very great distress, but in trials such as these no human aid can support. You must look higher - "God alone is our comforter, a refuge in need which hat favored us exceedingly," and he will be so to you, my dear friend, if you will seek His consolations in this trying visitation. God does not command us to be insensible, but to submit ourselves to His holy will. He who did not find it too hard to suffer for us the death of the cross, has good right to all our sacrifices, and is there a sacrifice worthy of being called as such if the heart be not concerned in it. The death of a Christian is but the termination of his exile here below. We are all hastening to our term, - a very little while, and we shall be here no more, - we shall have past the eternal gates, to be united forever to the loved and lost ones that are gone before us, never more to be separated. May this consolation be yours and your good husband's, who equally shares this heavy visitation.
You will be immediately informed of any change in your dear boy, in the meantime let me intreat you to be calm and resigned and assured of every affectionate and careful attention to him.
With deep sympathy, I am, dear Madam,
Yours very sincerely
A SISTER OF MERCY,
From the Convent of Mercy, New York, attending the sick and wounded.
HEAD QUARTERS, 103d Reg't, P. V.
Newburn, N. C. Dec. 31st, 1862
It becomes my painful duty to inform you of the death of your son, O. S. Joseph C. Mapes. He died the night of the 29th inst, at the Stanley General Hospital, at Newburn, North Carolina, of a gun shot wound in the leg and arm, received at the battle of Kingston, N. C. Dec. 14th 1861. He died the death of a Christian, and was as good a soldier as ever lived. You can find his grave by applying to the register at the Hospital, I buried him yesterday with the honors of a soldier. His clothes I will send by Adam's Express soon.
Yours with respect,
D. M. SPENCE, Lieut. Com.
Co. K, 103d Regt. P. V.
Submitted by Tami McConahy