|from The Webster Weekley Times, July 19, 1862 (Volume 4 # 19)|
| Slater Guards at Fair Oaks Station
Dear Sir;---The following account of the part taken by the Webster volunteers in the recent movements of the “Army of the Potomac“ is gathered from the letters that have been received by friends. If any are pleased or instructed, it will be chiefly owing to the kindness with which they have placed their letters at my disposal.
Wednesday, and most of Thursday, June 25 and 26 , Company I were kept hard at work throwing up a redoubt near Fair Oak Station . Thursday, 3 P. M., heavy and rapid cannonading was heard at the northwest, in the direction of Mechanicsville . In consequence work was suspended, and they were hurried from one end of the line to the other, expecting to be attacked. At 9 P. M . the anxiety occasioned by this heavy cannonading was relieved by a dispatch from McClellan , stating that our right wing had been attacked, but had maintained their ground with marked success. This announcement was followed by hearty cheers, the bands were ordered out , and far up and down the lines were heard our national aires.--- the first time in more than a month . --- Later came the order “Men will take three days rations , sleep with equipment on, and be ready to march at a moments notice “. In consequence our men slept on their arms.
Friday, 27.---The Company were under arms all day, and hurried on double quick from right to left , a distance of two miles, as the divisions seemed to demand their support. Though not actively engaged, yet were so near as to hear the bullets whistle over their heads.
Saturday , 28. --- The Company with their Regiment were moved up to support Smiths Division, which held the extreme right of the Trans- Chickahominy line. On this day the Regiment were not in action, though obliged to stand a vigorous shelling for two hours from the rebels. “ This standing in reserve,” ---a good authority states,---“ may sound well, but is dreadfully tiresome, requiring strong and brave men .” Some of the letters speak of Company I as being engaged, part of the day at least, in throwing up entrenchments.
Sunday,29--- Was passed with the rear guard of the army at Savage Station, aiding in the destruction, of commissary stores and ammunition . In this they were engaged four hours , under a burning sun .
Monday; 30 --- A very warm day---
Tuesday; July 1,---After this rest the Regiment was marched out and formed in line of battle. At this point Elisha Bigelow was compelled through exhaustion and illness to remain back, and was not seen again till Friday . This day our Regiment was in battle, but the letters give no particulars. They fell back six miles toward the James River. How this night was passed we do not learn.
Wednesday, 2.---At dawn began the march for James River. These last eight miles were traversed in a drenching rain . ..., and is described as “ terrible terrible “. The mud was in places a foot deep ,--- the baggage and artillery having the middle of the road, the men only the side paths .At noon the men arrived at Harrison Landing. They encamped in a large wheat field , capable of containing the whole army. The field was ready for the harvest, but in two hours it was all a mass of mud, and not a stalk of wheat to be seen. The men arrived, after having fought four successive days , and marched as many nights . They went to work, and made themselves as comfortable as possible. It rained more or less all night . The men passed the night without tents or blankets , resting on the wet muddy ground ,---“ no wood for fire, no straw for a bed , no blankets for a covering “ all was dark dreary , lonesome .There are not strong adjectives enough to express our misery ; but it had an end, and in two days the sun did shine.”
Friday, 4--- The Regiment moved into camp one and a half miles from the river. This day, after wandering through scores of regiments seeking his own ; the lamented Bigelow came to his friends, sick unto death.
The Company, though constantly exposed , have passed unharmed the fiery ordeal . Clemans , Burnham , Mahoney , Slater , and Ellis , are supposed to be among the prisoners.
All honor to our Webster volunteers; men who uncomplainingly and unselfishly bear for us the heat and burden of the day. They are worthy of a hearty support and warm sympathy. Shall they not have it? Let us sacrifice for them as they have for us. They call for men, more men, ---men who count not their lives dear for the country’s good, and who desire to live only as free institutions have a free and normal life .