Brooker (John) Papers, 1864, 1 Item
Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet: email@example.com.
John Brooker Papers, 1864, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas
Forms Part of:
Pearce Civil War Collection
Location: FK 1
Scanned Copies on File: No
Accession Number: 2000.167
Rosalie Meier, February, 2007
Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.
In this letter written from City Point, Virginia and dated July 30, 1864, John Brooker, a member of the 49th New York Volunteers, gives a detailed account of his regiment's actions in May 1864 at the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House.
John Brooker enlisted as a Private on October 1, 1863 and served with Company A, 49TH New York Infantry and Company D of the New York 33rd Infantry until he was discharged in Washington, D.C. on June 16, 1865.
Scope and Content Note:
Brooker wrote this letter dated July 30, 1864 to his friend, Eva H. Pratt, of Essex, Connecticut from the General Hospital at City Point, Va. He first assures Miss Pratt that he is not ill or wounded, but is at the hospital on detached service since Grant's army arrived at Petersburg. He then begins a rather detailed description of the actions in which his regiment participated beginning with the Wilderness campaign in May of 1864 and ending at Spotsylvania Court on May 18, of the same year.
After receiving marching orders on May 3, Brooker writes ". . . next morning found us on the road. Numbering in the Brigade (5 Regts) 2,500 bayonets in the 49th numbering 380." He continues relating their activities on the march towards the Wilderness, crossing the Rapidan on the 4th and advancing along the Chancellorsville Pike. The following day the regiment put out skirmishers who located the enemy in dense woods and a bloody fight began. He writes of the Confederates fighting from behind "stumps, trees &c, in true Indian style." The fighting continued sporadically until "the bushes parted in front of us and line after line of rebs came pouring out, yelling like made [mad], we waited till they were almost within reach of our bayonets and then gave them such a dose of Old Abe's powder and lead, that caused them to reel and stagger like drunken men." He continues relating the story of the day's fighting and concludes, "Darkness now set in and we received permission to "sleep on our arms," Thus ended the first days fight of the Battle of the Wilderness."
Brooker describes additional fighting just before dusk on Friday, May 6 when the Confederates charge again and he writes ". . . and now comes the order "fix bayonet!" then we are to receive them with the bayonet? Eh! And many a cheek blanches and lip trembles, at the thoughts of the approaching conflict, for a bayonet fight is the hardest of all fighting." Although a bayonet fight did not occur, in the battle which did ensue, they captured two Federal generals, Shaler and Seymour. At this point the Union troops were being pushed back when "another character arrives on the scene of action, in the person of our beloved " nay adored " "old Uncle John" "as the boys familiarly called him' Genl Sedgwick galloping in amonst the retreating regiments he rallied them and led them again to the encounter. . ." That night the regiment moved and the following evening moved again down the Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg pike. Brooker writes of the death of "our brave leader, John Sedgwick . . ." on May 9 at Spotsylvania "by the bullet of a cowardly sharpshooter."
On May 10, Brooker's rifle was shattered by a shell which exploded directly over him but without wounding him. The rifle was replaced with one found on the battlefield the following day. The last action in which Brooker participated was May 18th, but he offers no information on that engagement.