Camp Foster, Pooleville, MD
Dear Brother Charles
As I have written to most of the folks, I thought that I would address a letter to you lest you feel neglected.
We have had a very severe fight with the rebels and I suppose that you have heard about it some time ago. There are 22 missing in our company. Porter and George Benjamin were either shot dead or taken prisoner. I guess that they were shot by the rebels when they were swimming across the river. The rebels were too many for us and we had to retreat. They went over in a flat-bottomed boat about 100 men at a time. Our regiment and the Mass.19th and part of the California Brigade amounted to about 2500 men in all. The rebels were just too much for us and after fighting all day they had to retreat.
The rebels drove us into the river, and they either had to be shot or drown. They had so many in a boat the first time across that they sank it and ever so many of the boys drowned. Meanwhile, the rebs kept shooting at them all the time. Some of the poor fellows had not the strength to get up from the ground after swimming the river so they laid there on the shore with their faces in the mud. Here many in their helpless state were shot to death by the rebels for our boys had not even the strength to get up. Some of the boys drowned in the mud I reckon, and I guess that some 150 or 200 drowned crossing the river. It was a hard fight for our first one but I am pretty tough for a small boy.
We are now on picket by the river and one of the boys has been speaking with one of the rebels and he says that they have got three Captains of ours, and he describes one who sounds just like Captain Simonds. He said that the Captain was a prisoner in Richmond now. B. Simonds and Cprl. George Daniels started for home this morning. Simonds got shot in the leg just below the knee and Daniels got shot in the arm but not serious...The rebels have now about six or seven hundred boots and a good many pairs of pants containing considerable Union money. So the rebs made a pretty good thing out of the fight...Give my best respects to the folks, and write me all the news.
This is from your Brother, Lyman Nichols.