Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

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Civil War Diary of Charles H. Lynch

June 15, 2013

Civil War Diary of Charles H. Lynch, 18th Conn. Vol's.

June 15th. Last night we were under arms, ready for a call to duty at any moment. Prisoners report that Ewell has about forty thousand men with eighty cannon under his command. While in the fort waiting for orders we talked over the events that might happen when daylight came. About 2 A. M. we silently marched out of the Star Fort to the Martinsburg Pike. The movement was very slow which kept us guessing, wondering what was in store for us. When out on the road about four miles, just at break of day, at Carter’s Farm, near Summit station on the Harper’s Ferry & Winchester Railroad, the enemy opened a fierce fire upon us. The cavalry were to the right of us, marching in fours or parallel to the infantry lines. They broke and ran through our lines, causing much confusion. While we were re-forming, the enemy kept up a severe fire on us. They were well posted across a deep railroad cut. A case of ambush, waiting in the dark for us, having a good range of the pike. Our regiment soon had line formed, with the 5th Maryland on our left. Ordered to charge on the battery which the enemy had well posted and supported. Charging through the woods and the severe firing of the enemy, our lines became broken, when we were ordered to fall back and re-form. The second charge in the woods on the battery. We were again ordered to fall back and re-form. The 18th Connecticut was now the only regiment left on the field with General Milroy. After a short drill by our Colonel, under fire all the time, I heard him report to the General that he was now ready for orders. Our company, C, being center and color company, the Colonel’s position was right in our rear, so that we heard all his orders, even in battle. The Lieutenant-Colonel and the Major were on the right and left of the regiment to repeat orders. The 18th Connecticut Regiment made the third and last charge un-supported, all others having left the field. We held the enemy in check until the General, his staff, and escort, left the field, guided by scouts through fields, on to Harper’s Ferry. That was a hot fight in that early June morning. The cannon and musketry firing was a grand and awful sight to us young fellows, who were getting our first lessons in a real battle, a hard one and against great odds.

Coming out of the woods after the third and final charge, our Major Peale directed us to go to the right and get away. I followed his orders. For some reason, best known to himself, the Colonel ordered a halt and a surrender to the enemy, when he and between four and five hundred were made prisoners. Major Peale and between two and three hundred got away. I was one of those who followed the Major and reached Harper’s Ferry after a long and tedious march. Tired and discouraged, we dropped to the ground for rest and sleep. Our regiment was badly broken up. Many killed, wounded, and prisoners. The trials of the past few days were something fearful to endure. It was wonderful that we came out as well as we did. Short of rations, sleeping on the ground. Cool nights follow the hot days. On the march through Charlestown. Saw the Confederate cavalry on the Berryville Pike. In case of an attack we are ready. While marching on to Halltown a force of cavalry came to meet us from Harper’s Ferry. Stopped for the night on Bolivar Heights.

In the battle I lost my pocket-book, containing over five dollars with gold pen and silver pen-holder. We were obliged to fill our pockets with cartridges. As they were loose we used them first, so must have pulled my pocket-book out in the excitement.

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