Letter from Charles Lynch to his parents, December 25, 1861, from Camp Pierpont

Camp Pierpont, December 25, 18611

Dear Parents:

I write to let you know that I am well, and hope that this will find you the same. We had a battle at Drainesville on Friday which lasted one hour and a half. The regiments engaged were the Bucktails, Ninth and Sixth, and four pieces of artillery. Two of the cannon which were brought to bear on the enemy done good execution. The Sixth regiment, with the Bucktails and Ninth on her flanks, made a charge and fired a volley of musketry along the line of the regiments that sent terror [into] the hearts of the Rebels. The fire was continued for ten or twelve rounds, when they made a charge into the woods, driving the rebels from it, and leaving their dead and wounded behind. We scoured the woods for about a mile and then returned to where the conflict had commenced. After passing by their exploded magazines, which a ball from our cannon had struck, the pioneers from the Twelfth regiment came in and cut the wheels. The Twelfth and Tenth never fired a gun, neither did they lose a man.

The enemy’s force, according to the statement of prisoners taken, was four regiments of South Carolina, Alabama and Georgia infantry, and four companies of cavalry, and six pieces of a South Carolina battery.

The dead men, scattered every where through the woods, presented an awful sight. Mangled horses were lying in all directions as far as one could look.

When we charged on the Rebels they threw away their guns, cut the straps of their cartridge boxes and haversacks, and threw away their coats, blankets and provisions, and run for their lives. They had good warm clothing of all kinds of make, but no regular uniform suit; no plates on their belts or cartridge boxes. They had plenty of provisions, and very good too – such as home-made short cake and fresh beef, supposed to be furnished them by the inhabitants, as they appeared to be so pleased and cheerful as we were going along the road, thinking, no doubt, that we were going to our destruction, as they thought the “secesh” would kill every man of us, as they were a picked body sent out for this purpose from Centreville, against the Reserve Corps. The prisoners told us that they took an oath before they left Centreville to give or take no quarter. They were led by Gen. Stewart. The balance of their force which left Centreville, ten thousand in number, was drawn up in line of battle about three miles distant. They had calculated to surround us, and cut us to pieces, but they got sucked, and run and cried “Yankee sons of bitches.” Our purpose was forage. There were two killed and ten wounded in the Sixth. Two of the wounded died after reaching camp. I was in the battle, and was an eyewitness of what I write.

Charles Lynch2

  1. Published December 28, 1861 in the Harrisburg (PA) Patriot and Union
  2. Charles Lynch was a member of the Northern Invincibles, Company I, 6th Pennsylvania Reserves.