Letter from Freeman, Eugene H.
|Soldier: Freeman, Eugene H.
|Unit/Service Branch: th Engineers
|Home State: Massachusetts
|Date Written: Tuesday, July 7th, 1863
|Location: Parole Camp, West Chester, PA.
|Correspondence Type: Letter
|Subjects: Combat Description, Comrades, Eastern Theater, Enemy, Warfare
DEAR FATHER, — Well, I am safe after some pretty
hard marching and harder fighting, but, as usual, I will refer
you to the " Journal " for the particulars. It is my ninth
battle, and the hardest I have been in yet. Our corps with
the Eleventh fought the rebels at Gettysburg on the first
day of the series of battles. After a stunning fight of about
five hours our ammunition gave out, and being pressed by
the enemy in overwhelming numbers, we fell back on the
town, but could not escape, so we were compelled to surrender.
I think there were about 100 of our regiment
taken prisoners, and about 100 killed and wounded. So
you will see there were not many escaped destruction or
While in full retreat I passed near a rebel officer lying
on the ground ; he was a very large man, badly wounded,
and not able to move. He spoke to me and wished I would
remove him to some place where he would be less exposed
to the shot that was falling around. I declined for want of
time and strength to lift him. Then he requested me to
take his handkerchief and wipe the sweat from his face and
around his eyes. This I did cheerfully, and it was all I
could do for him. We were pursued by the rebels in large
numbers, and there was considerable danger of his being hit
by the balls intended for us. When exposed in this way to
the hot sun and the perspiration starting out freely, it will
soon form quite a thick crust, and unless wiped from the
neighborhood of the eyes it soon becomes very painful.
Our corps general (Reynolds) was killed, our new
brigadier-general (Paul) was killed, our colonel (Leonard)
was wounded and taken prisoner, our lieutenant-colonel
was taken, prisoner, and Major Gould was wounded ; and
I do not know how many line officers are among the killed
and wounded. Edgar Reed is among the prisoners. He
would not go into the fight, but went down into the town,
and got taken in one of the hospitals : he has hardly pluck
enough for a fighting soldier.
While being marched off" the field we passed through a
farm-yard, where I saw a rebel wounded officer seated. He
looked at me rather sharp, and then said he had seen me
before, that I was a paroled prisoner, had broken my parole,
etc. I simply denied the assertion; and there was nothing
done about it, though it made me feel a little uncomfortable
at the time.
I was used first-rate by the rebels, better than their men
are used by ours, I think.
We were kept about two days, then paroled and sent
within our lines. We came through Carlisle and Harris-
burg to West Chester. I will write at greater length in a
day or two. I must close now, as it is beginning to rain,
and fix up some kind of a shanty to protect me from the
Please direct to Parole Camp, West Chester, Pa. Thirteenth
Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers. WARREN.