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April 26, 2012

Letter reporting troops “spoiling for a fight” – April 26, 1862

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 9:00 am

Transcription of an excerpt from page 1 of a letter from Henry Lindergreen to Ignatius Donnelly regarding the 1st Minnesota Regiment’s situation near Yorktown, Virginia.

“Camp Winfield Scott, near Yorktown, Virginia, April 26, 1862.
Dear Friends Donnelly and Lady, Here we are, that is the First Minnesota Regiment and Lindergreen[.] it seems as if they could not get along without me for here I am still, in a tent made of rubber blankets[,] pine boughs, bark from trees logs and such like[.] it is raining now but we are dry[.] have just eaten my dinner which consisted of coffee, hard bread, salt beef, or salt horse as we call it[.] it goes by a great many names the [Daphuneal] Zouaves who lived on it 41 days, call it salt mule’s tail, the Rebels call it blue beef, it is nearly as good as so many chips[.]  I will give you our position, although I might be court martialed if McClelland should find it out.  We are on the right flank, of the left wing of the Grand Army, which brings us a little to the left of the centre and about 4 miles from Yorktown[.] we are in Sumner’s Corps, Sedgwick’s Division and Gorman’s Brigade; Fifteenth Massachusetts, New York Thirty Fourth, New York Second State Militia and the Minnesota First, Dana’s Brigade, Michigan Seventh, 42 New York, 17th and 20th Massachusetts, Burn’s Brigade; 1st California Regiment, 67th Pennsylvania or Daddy Owen’s Regular’s as they call themselves, Baxter’s Philadelphia Fire Zouaves, and one other Regiment I do not know the name of[.] this comprises our division[.] We are encamped in an open field with pine woods on all sides of us, and if you could only be here to walk through said woods you would be somewhat astonished[.] every ten steps brings you upon a battery of from 6 to 8 cannon, and you cannot see them until you are upon them[.] Gen. McClelland is right here with us and his headquarters are on Camp Winfield Scott[.] no doubt, in a few days will be fought one of the greatest battles that has ever come off in America[.] we shall have no surprise here, like that at Pittsburg Landing[.] our troops are wide awake and spoiling for a fight[.] every night at midnight, the regiments have to all get up, put on their equipment and then go back to bed with them on[.] just before daylight we have to get up again and all answer to our names[.] several nights we have been up in line of battle, caused by volleys of musketry from the Rebels[.] here a week ago yesterday, Smith’s Division had quite a smart little skirmish, and some of the Vermont men got pretty badly cut up, but they gave the Rebels as good as they sent[.] We are now engaged doing picket duty, fatigue work, such as building [breastworks], digging rifle pits, making towers for signaling and all such work.  We have got a strong place to deal with, but with as good an army as we have got and with Mc., at the head of us we are confident of success[.] no more Bull Run’s is our motto now, but time will tell[.] I have no idea when the attack will begin but it must be before a great while […]“

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Citation:  April 26, 1862 Letter from Henry Lindergreen to Lieutenant Governor Ignatius Donnelly, Correspondence Apr-May. 1862. Ignatius Donnelly and family papers, 1812-1973. Minnesota Historical Society.

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