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Civil War Letter: 1862 mentions Battle of Seven Pines (Battle of Fair Oaks)


The Battle of Seven Pines, also known as the Battle of Fair Oaks or Fair Oaks Station, took place on May 31 and June 1, 1862, in Henrico County, Virginia, as part of the Peninsula Campaign of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive up the Virginia Peninsula by Union Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, in which the Army of the Potomac reached the outskirts of Richmond.

On May 31, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston attempted to overwhelm two Federal corps that appeared isolated south of the Chickahominy River. The Confederate assaults, although not well coordinated, succeeded in driving back the IV Corps and inflicting heavy casualties.

Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, it was the largest battle in the Eastern Theater up to that time (and second only to Shiloh in terms of casualties thus far, about 11,000 total). Seven Pines therefore marked the closest Union forces came to Richmond in this offensive.

The transcription below has some edits and alterations to make it easier to read. The misspellings and lack of punctuation are mostly left out.

Written on "The Union Volunteer" letterhead

Virginia June 9th 1862

Dear Brother

I received your letter of May 28th last night and was glad to learn that you are all well and I now seat myself to answer it by saying that I am well and I thank God for it.

We have had another hard battle on the last day of May. We was driven back two miles and lost everything but what we had on our backs and had to stand in the rain for twenty four hours and the mud and water up to our knees and are still without tents or blankets.

We are fourteen miles from Richmond. I am getting tired of soldering. I don't expect to get home against harvest so you will have to get along as well as you can without me. I would like to know how the grain looks.

Our division is cut up very bad and I don't know what they will do with some say we are not going to be sent back to Washington City or Baltimore but I don't know (what) they will do with us. I hope they will take us out of these fine swamps for we will all die here

well I don't (have) anything more to write at this time so I will bring my letter to a close for the present by saying that I want you to write as soon as this comes to hand.

Farewell for a while

Jonas Horne


Andrew Horn

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