Shouts & Whispers: The Civil War Correspondence of D.D. Priest of Mount Holly, Vermont

Shouts & Whispers: The Civil War Correspondence of D.D. Priest of Mount Holly, Vermont

by Nancy D. Wilson

ISBN: 9781475041040

Publisher CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Published in Biographies & Memoirs/Professionals & Academics, Biographies & Memoirs/Leaders & Notable People, Biographies & Memoirs, History

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Book Description

A wonderful collection of letters fom a Vermont Union soldier home to his wife. 80 letters span nearly the entire war and provide the reader with both information and emotion.

Sample Chapter

Dear Wife,

Since I last wrote you, we have gone about three hundred miles farther south. We started a week ago today from our camp near the McCloud Mills and went to the city of Alexandria. There we took a steam boat and went down the river ten miles. The next day we went to Fortress Monroe. We got there at dark that night.

We slept on the beach in the sand. The next day we went two miles above Hampton where we stayed one day, then we started for a place ten miles up the James River where there were eight thousand rebels. We drove in their pickets about noon after a little skirmishing or a running fire of a few minutes.

When we got to the place, it was evacuated. Then we were two or three miles from Yorktown where there are forty thousand rebels.

It was thought not best to attack that place yet, so we fell back five miles and encamped so we are two miles from Newport News and about half a mile from the James River. The boys go there and get oysters; the tide flows up some miles further so the water is salt.

The ground we are camped on is a salt marshy kind of land. We dig two feet down and get plenty of pretty good water; it is a little salt, but it is the best we can get. The water looks like milk and water; you can’t see into it at all no more than you can into stone. It is pretty salt and it tastes of sulfur so I think we are near the seat of the Rebel Kingdom.

I have a bad cold but aside from that we are all well and tough. We have had some pretty hard marches and some of the Rgmts are falling out badly but I hope they will get used to it sometime.

Write often. I will tell you when I want the address changed.

Goodby for the present.

D.D. Priest

April 6, 1862

Battle Field

Dear Wife,

I am well but almost tired to death. We came about five miles through mud and swamp by eleven o’clock. From that time to dark I have worked with all my might, and sometimes the shells from some of our own batteries and from the rebels’ forts passed and repassed over our heads with that piercing scream that, once heard, is never forgot. There was incessant fighting from one front until dark last night. And the mud and swamp made it hard for the pioneers to corduroy the road all the way until the enemy could be brought out into the field.

This morning the fight began as soon as light and is still going on at twelve o’clock. It is a hard place to take but it must be done. The fight must be long and bloody. The men are mostly from Vermont, Maine and New York that are with us, and the sons of those noble Northern states face fire bravely and they will retrieve all stains of Bull Run.

We slept but little last night. We are about two miles from Warwick Court house. I have got a jack knife, a razor and a pair of gloves that I got in a secesh store. I will send home the gloves if they will go in a letter. I don’t know as they will.

Be of good cheer. We shant run this time and feel sure that the Vermonters will give no quarter. I hear but little loud talk but a low, stern whisper that bodes a determination that is not to be conquered.

Goodby for the present.

D.D. Priest

I am resting despite the roar from our batteries that are belching fire and death, and the infantry a little further to the left are keeping time with the groans of the rebel wounded which they say they can hear plain.

D.D. P.

April 11, 1862

Camp on the way to Richmond, near West Point, Va.

Dear Wife,

I am well at this time and there are few men in the Brigade that can march as far as I can in a day, although I am very light. I only weigh between 160- 170 lbs. Will is a good deal heavier than I am and Allen is tough as a whip.

We have had one of the bloodiest fights since I wrote that ever was fought on American soil. Our loss was very heavy and, on the part of the rebels, they were whipped, you can rest assured of that and the prisoners we took would indicate their loss greater than ours, but how many of them were wounded, I don’t know. Nor can I guess, but that they suffered great loss is beyond the least doubt.

It took us three days to bury the dead, with three or four thousand men to work at it all the time. We buried our dead all in one field and the rebels in heaps of from fifteen to a hundred in one heap. I went out on the field where I could not step without stepping on reb blood and hardly without stepping on their bodies. You might smell the battle field now for five miles.

The rebels are brave; they fear nothing but the bayonets when Yankees are behind them. Their courage would do honor to a better cause but our troops are invincible. They will not yield alive, so the rebels must or die.

We have advanced about thirty miles toward Richmond since the fight and are now within twenty or thirty miles of that place. Gen. Banks, Gen. McDowd, Gen. Fremont and others are all coming to the same point and we have the rebels surrounded. If they don’t get away, we shall fight the last fight soon.

Write often. I have not had time to write for ten days but don’t wait for letters. I think I bear a charmed life. I am well when I am needed most and escape all danger.

Good by.

D.D. Priest * Campaign of the Peninsula


Excerpted from "Shouts & Whispers: The Civil War Correspondence of D.D. Priest of Mount Holly, Vermont" by Nancy D. Wilson. Copyright © 2013 by Nancy D. Wilson. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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Author Profile

Nancy D. Wilson

Nancy D. Wilson

Born in 1937 in Vermont, Nancy D. Wilson is descended from many generations of Vermonters, although her working years were spent in upstate New York, teaching English in high school.

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