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The New Arter Letter 3

Original Arter Letter 3 PDF -5.61 Megs

I recently acquired the text for this letter through email from a very nice
person who realized that this letter was the companion letter
to the first Arter letter. It has some tremendous implications. It tells of
how the black troops were given full honors after their victories
and how they were respected by the white troops. It also reports that the
USCT soldiers used Fort Pillow as a battle cry and massacred
 the rebel troops in Fort Walker after they taunted them about Fort Pillow.


Headquarters June 19th 18-
Wilson's Landing on James River-
M Arter Dear Father
        I read your letter a-
ago wrote June 6th and would of answ-
but my time being so occupied I could -
a moment for myself.  we have to work-
and boath late and early.  we are cold o-
morning at 3 o'clock and kept to it until nine-
evening.  occassionaly we are cald out on a supp-
ing an attack form the Rebels.  So far we have-
came in contact with the Rebs.  but should we be
attacked we will have to try our hand. our work
since we left home has been mostly to work on
the fortifications and making roads for the main army
to move on.  It is astonishing to see the amount of work that
is done.  We have had to make roads where you
would think it impossible.  this whole country lays very
low and as a general thing is swampy.  you have heard
of what they call wilderness and by the By it is
well named.  to give you a history as far as I have seen of
the country.  it lays very low with pine trees growing up
in it as thick as they can grow.  running up as straight
as an arrow to a hight from 30 to 40 feet. with a kind
                -vine growing up so thick that a rabit
                -et through with gaggers on. running up to
               -the trees making a perfect mat. on
               -where we now are.  the pines grow larger
              -terssenced with other kinds of trees such as maple
             -hesnut, white oak and as a general thing the
             -ws to no size.  The land looks very poor the
            -as I have seen where they farm looks very
           - thin, composed of white clay as far as I
           -country over since we left Washington City
           -le country appears to be entirely deserted and
          -vast from the ravages of our army.  I have not
        -a field enclosed with a fence and what
crops was put out there is no care taking of it. 
in fact as far as our army reaches, the whole country
is laid waist, and it will take years before it
can be brought back to what it was before the war. 
all the fine mansions have been destroyed.  the
camp we now lay on is said to be on of the finest
locations on James River.  It is entirely deserted, not a
sole on or near it.  they do say the owner Mr. Wilson
and his sons are all in the rebel army.  it was at
this point that General Wild had the fight with
General Fitz Hugh Lee about the 16th of May, and
whiped him most shamefully.  the dead rebs can be
seen laying around over the battleground now
we left Washington City some two wee-(ks ago)
sence that time I have seen a good- (bit of)
country.  first we Reported at the whi- (te house which)
is on the Pamunka River. that was a por-(t)
Gen. Grant need his supplies, to carry ou-
we was immediately ordered to city P-(oint on)
the James River at the mouth of the-
Appomattox.  at this point. was quite a-
city.  but sence our men came in, this-(point had)
been almost destroyed.  There is not an o-(riginal)
family here now.  On looking it ov-
some of the nicest parks I ever saw, at-
it is headquarters for Gen Butlers Blac-(k troops)
from here we were ordered to Bermuda Hundred.  It is
here now where Gen Grant receives his supplies as
he has shifted his army from the Pamunka to
this Point where he commenced his operations
against Petersburgh we was immediately ordered from
this point to the Point of Rocks on the apomattox River
here we laid from Monday to Thursday evening. meanwhile
Gen Grant Gen Mead & Gen Butler massed some one hundre
and fifty thousand troops to commence their campaign
against Gen. Buregard Johnson & other Generals. 
they commenced their operations on Wednesday morning
June 15th and  I have no doubt that there had been some
of the hardest fighting in the whole campaighn
                       -ace that is point of Rocks can be seen the
                       -try when General Grant and Butler is a fighting
                      -as for three days and nights the time our regiment laid at that
                     - heard one continual sound from the artillery and rifles
                    - rising therefrom would raise until the whole
                (c)-ould be darkened so as a person could not hardly
           (loca)-tion from where it was.  I could look the  whole thing
                    -t was one of the grandest sights I ever looked upon, but
                (t)-he sacrifice of no doubt of hundreds yes I may say
                 - our brave men.  Oh what a sorrowful sight to
               - see as I have seen regiment after regiment march
             -ose heavy fortifications for the purpose of scaling them
         -assture the enemy which is inside.  knowing at the same time
        -ances were entirely against them.  On the heavy fortifications
around Petersborough which the Rebs held, they put the negroes to work
to take them. Fort Walker being the outside and strongest
fort of the Rebs was taken entirely by the blacks.  it is said by the knowing
ones even Grant himself that at this fort was the hardest fight of the whole war. 
this fort was took on wednesday evening commencing the attack about 4
o'clock and was took about 8 & silenced.  meanwhile the negroes were repulsed
some 4 or 5 times and would rally until they finally succeeded in reaching
the top of the works.  there the tug of war commenced.  the Rebs yelling to
them to come on and they would make another Fort Pillow case.  the
Blacks could not see it that way.  on the taking of the fort the Blacks
murderd every Reb that was left supposing to be some 4 or 5 hundred.  I saw
and talked with quite a number of blacks that was in that engagement
they say when they took the fort the Rebs begged of them to spare their
lives but their orders was to remember Fort Pillow. and that was the
way they remembered it.  this engagement I was in a position that I
could see the whole thing.  Fort Stephens the inside fort was taking
the next evening.  the gun boats and heavy seize guns plaid on it all
day keeping up one continual volley along in the afternoon. 
The fort was silenced at which time the negros
went over and took possession as they did the other which
they now hold.  they here also remembered Fort Pillow all in
fact all of the heavy works around Petersborough was taking
by the Blacks,  the idea that the whites will not take part
when the blacks are engaged is entirely plaid out.  I find
by talking with the white troops that they have no objection to the
Black Troops taking a position with them in the field, and if
necessary they lead the column and take all the Honor
it is in this department Gen Butlers when the main portion
of the colored army is.  I have seen regiment after Regiment
passing backwards and forwards.  Cavalry Artillery & infantry
they are the finest looking men in the field, as a general
thing they are large, mostly young and of all coulers. 
from the white to as black as a crow and nearly all
of them has been slaves.  I must bring this to a close
as I have already wrote more than I expected
I must close for to day as I am just detailed to go with
a lot of men on picket.  Tuesday June 21st  well I have got
in again from my picket duty and thought I would finish my
letter in this section.  everything is Rebble from what I can understand. 
There is no a union man in the whole country some of the boys
have been out back of this place some five miles Forraging they all
say they have not seen a white man in that distance.  the women
all claim they are cesesh (secessionists) and that their cause is right.  all
through the country the farms are entirely deserted and not a man
to do any work. the Blacks have all ran off & the whites have been
consrcpted (conscripted) the houses are nearly all vacant.  the women come
together & you will find a house full of them. where ever there
are any corn plants & wheat sown it is left, the corn has
not been touched since it was planted when I was out
yesterday I saw 100 acres just growing up in the weeds & not a
rail to be seen that bring the case as far as I have been. 
It looks like starvation.  What little is left our army scour
the country & take what they can find.  There is a party of
a lot of men started out from this camp this morning
and went out with conveyances (wagons).  they take every thing they can
find. such as horses, cows hogs sheep grain niggers and
every thing they can get a hold of.  it appears hard to go
into a house when there is not a man near  and take
every thing that can be found.  when there is no one but
women & children and they a crying & begging as our
men are taking away everything they can find.  it is right
in this section where rebeldom exists in its worst. O that this
cursed Rebellion may cease and that the people may return
to that government which is the best of all others.  this location is
said to be one of the finest from the mouth of the James River
to Richmond.  It is a point the rebels prize very much on account
it is the best natural point to cut off the supplies which our men
up to Gen Grants army.  there is three regiments of us here...the
143rd, 163rd col miller commanding and a Artillery Co and also
there is also two gunboats laying at the landing in case we
should be attacked that they they may help take care of their
cases. as every body knows the rebs hate the gun boats worse than the devil. 
I saw a case the other evening when a gunboat made
the Rebs schedaddle as our Regt was coming down
the River to this point the Rebs planted themselves with a
battery on the shore.  I suppose to try what our boat was
made of.  Some of the boatmen discovered them and held
up & signaled a gunboat which came up and fired
about a doz shels into their shebang and they lit out in a
little less than no time.  the James River is a very nice
river and is naviagable for the largest Crafts.  there is Boats
in sight all the time carrying forward Supplies the tide
seems clear up to to this point. and is salty for miles
up, at this landing it is nice and pure and a most
splendid beach. which makes it nice for the boys
to swim in which they do no little at there is
some very nice fish cought mostly catfish and
lots of ells.  I see the boys have ells as long as my arm
and Bye and Bye the first ell I ever saw was caught here. 
I reed two letters to day from my wife and also a leader (later)
one wrote 5th of June the other 15th which I assure you was
gladly Read. and also Glad to hear you was all
well. & was getting along as well as could be expected
in regard to the General news of the army of the Potomack
you are to get them as soon as I can get them here
the news is here that General Grant holds Petersburgh
if such is the case good By Richmond as it is ac
knowledged on all hands that is the key to it. the wether
here is not so very warm. I have seen it warmer in Ohio
but the nights is very cold can lain 3 or 4 blankets very
comfortable.  there has been no rain since we left the city of
washington in the morning at 3 o'clock when we have to all
get up it is so very cold it makes the boys shiver.  Veg
itation don't suffer here with the drouht like it does in Ohio
and there is very heavy dews here.   





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