May 5th 1863 - In camp, near New
Iberia, formily called Newton, La.

Dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters,

     It has been a long time since I wrote to you and now don't know as I can write any news, but what you have heard by way of Rosa. But having a little time this morning and knowing that it would be a satisfaction to you to get a letter direct, I will try to write a short one to you.

     Well to commence with, I have been in one small battle and some not so very small either and came out alright, but pretty well tired out. I will give some of the particulars as near as I can recollect. The first day, we commenced our march about noon. We went seven miles that afternoon. Our calvry skirmishing with the enemy, most of the way. The next day we went about three miles, when the engagement became general. We formed into line of battle, little before noon. Our brigade in front and the right wing in advance. Five companies were ordered forward as skirmishers. One company of the 8th Vermont on the extreme right, one company of the 75th New York, Company D of the 114th New York next, which was center, then Company G. 114th N.Y.S. next and the 12th Conneticut on the extreme left. The guide was in the center and Co. D took the least. We marched forward with the brigade about forty rods behind us for about two miles, over corn hills, ditches, hedge fences, briers etc. Then the enemy opened on us from the gun boat and two guns from the fort. When we saw the smoke from their guns we dropped to the ground, then up and on again. We made four such advances, before we were ordered to halt. Then our folks commenced cannoning. Then we were ordered into the ditches, up we got and forward into the next ditch. We went, the cannon balls flying thick and shells bursting all around us. We lay there till after dark, when our enemy fell back and we were ordered to retreat. We fell back about fifty rods and remained there all night, with occasionally skirmishing. I never was so near melted down in my life, as I was at the time. I went into the ditch and there was no air there, so it was not so cold, as standing up. One William Roberts, in our company, laid little below me in the ditch. He was hit in the forehead with a shell and died four days afterward. That you may know something of the battle, I will say that the reporters who were there, near as they could keep count the reports of the cannon from both sides, were at the rate of five hundred rounds every fifteen minutes. You see, it was something of a battle. When we fell back at night, the enemy supposing where we were whispered, hollered and cheered with all their might. We could hear their corp band play two or three tunes. The next morning, soon as light, we were ordered forward without anything to eat. Before we gained the old ground, they opened on us again and the engagement became general. We advanced little, occasionally they direct a number of their guns at us, skirmishes, in order to drive us back. At 10 o'clock, we were relieved and fell back to the rear and allowed two hours rest. We then joined the regiment and were immediately sent out to skirmish again in the afternoon. Our regiment and the 75th and the 1st Conn. men were sent into the woods to drive off the sharpshooters, who were picking off our gunners. We came very near getting into bad fire then, but finally got out of it. We had to hug the ground close, then get up, fire, down again and so on. The bullets falling around us like hailstone. Well, to some this matter all up, we fought till 9 o'clock at night and lay on the field till morning. As soon as light, without any breakfast, we started in pursuit of the enemy, who were retreating all night. We soon came up to their rear and then kept a running fight, killing, wounding, and taking prisoners. We went two miles. The next morning, we started at four o'clock, so as not to give them any rest. Well, we followed them day after day to Opolousas. We rested there one day and then we shot back to (unreadable in original) country and drive in all the cattle, horses, mules, sheep, etc. Well, were on the march almost three weeks, fighting every day, on our way up, taking over two thousand prisoners killing as near as can be estimated about five hundred and wounding as many more. We have taken twelve cannon, wagon loads of small arms. Our estimate, over thirty millions worth of properity. I heard it estimated how many bales of cotton we have taken, but have forgotten, but it is a number of thousand. We got fifteen hundred hogsheds of sugar at one plantation. It was two years crop. Such sights of sugar, lotta molasses, -----, -----, (unreadable in original) and so on. I never ran in my life. We lost in our regiment in battle, only two killed, and perhaps twenty or less wounded. Of the killed, one was from company H, and the other was Roberts from Company D, who died four days after. One, in one company, had his thumb shot off. There were a great many narrow escapes. One of our boys, when he opened his blanket, found a grapeshot that had gone through his rubber blanket and one thickness of his woolen one. Another, had the button of his cartridge box shot off. I can name a great many more, but it is taking up time and paper.

     We staid at Brashear two days and again ordered out and have no idea where we are going or what to do, no faster than it comes along. Sunday, it was assigned for two of our company to go over to Vermillion Bayou and take a rebel transport than, but they got the start by burning it themselves, the night before. General Banks and Weitzel said they never saw troops in battle for the first time do as well as we did. Not a man flinched that I knew of. I knew of some of our boys who would stop every little while and pick berries, as though there was nothing going on. I believe they would have walked up to the cannon mouth, if they had not been ordered to halt. Well I have seen all the fighting I want to, but expect to see lots more of it yet. If I should live, you see we were under the fire of both armies. The shells of our own guns bursting all around us, as well as those of the enemy. I don't know how many were lost in killed and wounded, but not one quarter as many as those of the enemy. When we lay there under fire, I didn't think it possible for one third of our regiment to come out alive, but it proved a lucky day for us. I am proud to say that we think that we have done as good fighting, greater marching and followed up the enemy closer and taken stuff for the government, according to our numbers, than has been by any expedition since the war commenced. When we got them whipped, we did not wait and let them fortify somewhere else, but hugged them close, till we have completely routed them. In less than three weeks, we marched over three hundred miles, fighting most of the way, conquering as we went. We flatter ourselves that this expedition will be of more benefit the United States than any since the war began. You will probably see more details in the papers, than I have time to write. All I have to say is that I hope I shall never have to witness another scene, such as the one on our backward march. We saw where some of the enemy were buried, with an arm or leg sticking out of the ground and maggots crawling in and out. They left in such a hurry, they threw their dead in between corn rows and shoveled dirt from each way on them. One shot from one of our large guns killed eight of their horses at once.

     Well here I am, well, hearty and tough as a bear. Never felt so well or better in my life and never wanted to see my wife, child, parents, brothers, sisters and family so much in my life as at the present time, but don't see any prospect of so doing at present. I have received letters from you all and want you all to accept this as a good answer to all. I would like to write to you all separately, but if you knew all the duties of a soldier, you will not expect it. We have our own messing, washing and cooking and everything else. So there is not much time and where there is time, there is everything going on, that keeps one confused all the time. Charlie Smith is in the hospital at Franklin. I went in and saw him as we come up this time. He is better, but all broke down. The other Sherburne boys that are here, I believe are all well. M. Bake, Srgt. Deitz and Allen Hawley. Rosa has sent me a boxe, which I hear is at New Orleans. Will probably get it in a few days.

     Flour in this county sold from one hundred and fifty to two hundred dollars ------  (unreadable in original). We have a government store at Franklin that sells, to those who have taken the oath, for twenty two dollars.

     I must bring this to a close. I want you to all write as often as you can. It does me more good to get letters from home and friends than you think. Direct as usual. If our armies' generals were doing as much as we are, I think this war would soon end. Oh how I wish this unnatural war was over. Excuse this hasty letter.

From your affectionate son and brother,
S. S. Dunton

[ Dunton Homesite Main Page ] [ Main Archive Page ]

Copyright © 1996-2018 by The Dunton Family Organization -- All rights reserved
Portions of this section on Samuel S. Dunton copyright Vance Dunton
To view The Dunton Homesite™ privacy policy, click here.
The Dunton Homesite™ is the property of The Dunton Family Organization
This page was last Updated January 29, 2018 .