Pvt. Leonard Powell, Co. D, 2nd Wisconsin, On the Battle

7 12 2011

Letters from Members of the Janesville Volunteers.

Arlington Heights, July 24th.

Dear Wife: – I write to let you know that I am well. I hope you are also in good health. We have had two hard battles, have been defeated in one, and were obliged to retreat thirty miles to this place.

I cannot tell you how many balls whistled by my head during the battle, for I could not count them. The little things go very quick, but I can dodge the cannon ball and the bomb shell; but when a shell bursts it raises the “Old Ned” with the men. My gun was shot from my hands by a shell; that was close work for the eyes. Three were three men shot down by my side. – Fred. Main was shot through the leg, and has not been seen since. I fear he is dead, for the enemy killed our wounded. This will be a hard war for both sides, but we are bound to whip them. Our loss is about one thousand, and that of the other side about the same.

I was taken prisoner, but my legs were too long for them, and I left. I was separated from my company two days. The enemy could not fool “Old Pap.” I shot the man who was guarding me. He had taken my gun from me, but I had a pistol in my shirt pocket which he did not find. When he turned his back I gave him a charge, and then he let my old legs go. These legs of mine won’t let the body be abused in such times. I walked thirty-five miles that night, through the woods all the way. It was a hard tramp for me.

We were in the battle five hours; it was very hard fighting. I saw dead men and horses on all sides of me. ‘Tis enough to harden any man’s heart. I never had any fear at all until they all ran; and then I tried to help a wounded man off the field, and was taken prisoner.

Leonard Powell

Janesville Daily Gazette, 7/30/1861.

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