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Letter to Eleanor Stuart Brooks

Charles Brooks describes the casualties and destruction he saw after the battle at Gaines Mill, one of the battles of the Seven Days' Campaign.

ALS .pp June 30, 1862 Charles Brooks to Eleanor Stuart Brooks, June 30, 1862 Notes

Sunday June 30th /62

Dear Ma

I hope you have received the letter sent
off on yesterday. When I left home I thought perhaps
I would have returned before this; but instead of that
we are getting further away and I hope gaining an im
portant victory for the Confederacy. Our division of
the army was pretty quiet on Saturday and Sunday, but
a pretty hard battle occured Sunday evening, to
our right, on the York River Railroad about eight
miles below Richmond. Gen. Hills division was the
principal one engaged. Early this morning all
Jackson's troops crossed the Chickihomany and all
the army are following up the enemy; for I should
have stated that he was again whipped on
yesterday. We crossed the battle field [deleted: on] this mor
ning! There were many dead and for miles the coun
try [deleted: wa] is strewn with knapsacks blankets over-
coats and various other articles. Squads of prisoners
have been coming in all day and probably five or six
hundred have been captured. I saw [deleted: five] about three
hundred [added: captured] horses and mules this morning. The enemy
have crossed a stream fourteen miles below Richmond
and blown up the bridge, and heavy cannonading
has been going on this evening across the stream.
Time is important for them in order to get
commisary stores out of the way. If it were not for

[page 2]

his Gunboats McClelland might find some dif
ficulty in finding a place of rest on Virginia's soil.[1]
We havn't seen our wagons for five days and have
lived principally on hard bread and havn't been
particular about clean sheets or the abundance of
our covering. It is now about sundown and I
will stop; but probably add somthing more before I
mail it.

I have just heard that Capt. Newly will leave the
army in the morning and [added: will] write a few lines more
and give it to him to mail. Four of our boys have fallen out [added: of ranks] complaining; Strickler [2], Two My-
nes[3] and Meade[4] [added: also Tom White [5] ] but I hope they wont be much unwell.
I suppose you all are engaged in harvesting. Crops
are rather light in this part of the country. [unclear: S]
leaving Gordonsville we have passed through a
miserably poor country; sometimes passing for
five miles through flat piny woods.

Love to all.

Your Affect son Charles


[1] Charles describes the events surrounding the battle at Gaines's Mill, June 26-27, 1862, one of the battles of the Seven Days' Campaign. The Stonewall Brigade had been traveling from the Shenandoah Valley to Richmond. En route, they came to Gaines's Mill and joined the battle on June 27. The 4th Virginia Infantry was the center regiment in the brigade's line of battle. Near the end of the day, the 4th captured Federal General John F. Reynolds. On June 30, the date of this letter, the Stonewall Brigade crossed the Chickahominy River and marched towards White Oak Swamp. However, they were unable to help Generals Longstreet and Hill in the battle of Frayser's Farm. On July 1, the day after Charles penned this letter, the 4th Virginia Infantry was engaged in the Battle of Malvern Hill, the final battle of the Seven Days. (Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry, 15-16, Wallace, 32-35).

[2] Givens Brown Strickler (1840-1913) was a student at Washington College when he joined the 4th Virginia Infantry, Company I in June of 1861. He was promoted to Corporal at the end of the month and then to First Sergeant in September of 1861. His rise in the company continued when he was elected Second Lieutenant in April and then finally elected Captain on August 30, 1862, two months after Charles's present letter. Strickler was captured at Gettysburg (July 3, 1863) and remained in captivity at Johnson's Island Prison until March 14, 1865. After the war, he served as pastor of a Presbyterian Church in Atlanta and as a professor at the Union Theological Seminary in Richmond. In addition, Strickler was rector of the Board of Trustees of Washington and Lee University. He died in 1913 (Bean, 150, Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry,75).

[3] "Two Mynes" may refer to Henry (1843-1901) and John Myers (1841-1915) soldiers in Company I. Henry had been a student at Washington College. He was promoted to Corporal in September of 1861. Both brothers were transferred to the First Virginia Calvalry on September 20, 1862, fulfilling their wish to leave the 4th Virginia Infantry, as Charles indicates in this letter (Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry, 65).

[4] Everard Meade (1843-?) was a student at Washington College when he joined the 4th Virginia Infantry, Co. I in 1861. He was wounded at Groveton on August 28, 1862 and at Sharpsburg on September 17, 1862. Meade was captured in October of 1863 and exchanged at Fort McHenry in April of 1864, at which time he was assigned to work on the ordnance train. Meade was present for the surrender at Appomattox in 1865 (Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry, 64).

[5] Thomas Spottswood White (1845-?) was born in Charlottesville, VA. He joined the 4th Virginia Infantry, Co. I on March 12, 1862. He was transferred to the 1st Virginia Calvary on February 4, 1863, several months after the Myers (Robertson, Fourth Virginia Infantry, 80).

Works Cited

Bean, W. G. The Liberty Hall Volunteers: Stonewall's College Boys. Charlottesville: The University of Virginia Press, 1964.

"The Civil War Artillery Page" Chuck Ten Brink. Visited April, 1998

Crenshaw, Ollinger. General Lee's College: The Rise and Growth of Washington and Lee University. NY: Random House, 1969.

Denney, Robert E. The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of the Life of a Nation. NY: Sterling Publishing Co, Inc., 1992.

Driver, Robert. J. 52nd Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va: H. E. Howard, 1986.

Lankford, Nelson D. "Alexander Robinson Boteler." Encylopedia of the Confederacy. Ed. Richard N. Current. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993. I: 197-8.

McMurry, Richard. M. "Joseph E. Johnston." Encylopedia of the Confederacy. Ed. Richard N. Current. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1993. II: 859-61.

McPherson, James M. The Atlas of the Civil War. New York: Macmillan, 1994.

Robertson, James. 4th Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va.: H.E. Howard, 1982.

—. The Stonewall Brigade. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1963.

Sublett, Charles W. 57th Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va.: H. E. Howard, 1985.

Turner, Charles W. Old Zeus: Life and Letters (1860-'62) of James J. White (Professor of Greek at Washington College 1852-1893, Captain of the Liberty Hall Volunteers 1861-'62). Verona, VA: McClure Printing Company, Inc., 1983.

Wallace, Lee A. 5th Virginia Infantry. Lynchburg, Va.: H. E. Howard, 1988.

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