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.
J. L . Fish

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.
---At 5 P . M . the men returned to camp. At night the order was given to crowd haversacks, pack knapsacks and shelter tents. What could not be readily removed, was to be destroyed. Between 8 and 9 o’clock the Regiment marched four miles to the station next in rear of Fair Oaks on the railroad, named Savage Station . The men sleeping in the woods , had but little rest that night.

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 .
At 5 P . M . our forces, Gen. Sumner in command , were attacked by the rebels. Our Regiment here as before was held in reserve .---Some of the regiments behaved badly. Gen Sumner came up and said “ move the third line “.( from this and other statements of the writers, we conclude there were three lines of battle the third being the reserve. ) He led the Regiment across the open field to the opposite wood. Our man ran and yelled most vigorously. The firing soon ceased and darkness came on. Instead of rest after the exertion and deprivations of the previous days , our men were commanded to take up the line of march for White Oak Swamp. This time the order was to abandon everything but gun and necessary equipment.
At 9 P. M. , in a drenching rain, the march began. The Company marched or rather straggled on , eight miles , over a road full of puddles and deep ruts, in company with two corps of men,--- the men falling out of the ranks every moment , and lying down to snatch a moment’s rest. We do not learn that any of our men were obliged to succumb. Toward morning the company filed into an open field, known as Glendale. Here the men had two hours for sleep. 

Monday; 30 --- A very warm day---
Beginning not far from 3 o’clock P. M. was fought the desperate bloody battle of White Oak Swamp , --- our Regiment acting still as a reserve. They began duty by marching double quick two miles , from the left to the right, stayed one hour , then back to the left double quick , “ came just at the right time “ to reinforce and rally at expected weak points. The Regiment was moved up and down a dusty road , two miles in length, four times . They marched all day within a circuit of three miles. At night there were not more than two hundred men in line. Early in the evening the march was resumed , and continued until near morning , when they halted and slept awhile. 

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 .


15th Massachusetts VI