Letter written by Dr. Charles A. Wheeler, a Union soldier who served as assistant surgeon with the 12th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War. Wheeler's letter is written from the battlefield during the battle of Gettysburg.
(Copyright held by the Pearce Civil
War Collection, Navarro College Archives.
Near Gettysburg Penn
My Dear Wife
I scratch this line under somewhat novel circumstances, a prisoner within the Rebel lines - about 50 feet from a Rebel battery that is under full play at our own men. 5 of us surgeons are here crouched under a stone barn to escape our own shells. We came up here, out of town, to operate on some of our men when the Rebels opened from the Batteries that are situated all around us on the hills. We have had a terrible battle on the 1st, 2 & today. Lee's whole army is here, as is also ours. I suppose there will be no cessation from fighting until one of the two armies is annihilated.
July 3th The fighting having somewhat abated we went further up, onto the battlefield where our dead and wounded still lay, we have done what we could for them but they suffer greatly for want of food although the rebels are very kind to them.
July 4th - A glorious Fourth! The Rebels have evacuated the place - we are no longer prisoners. The Rebels charged in vain on our position yesterday. Longstreet is killed. Genl. Archer taken prisoner. Their loss has been very great - they are probably retreating from the state. I have some news for you - I saw a Rebel yesterday that knows your brother - He is a Captain in the 51st Georgia - Longstreet's Corps - said he had seen him a few days ago - Having a Brother in the same Regt., I sent him my regards. The loss in our corps has been very great. I don't expect that there is many of our Regt. left. Capt. Clark is badly wounded - Also Col. Bates. I removed a ball from his throat. I expect he is taken prisoner.
July 5 The Col. is not a prisoner. I have gone up to our corps hosptl. Do no know how long I shall remain there. Shall send for you if I remain from the Regt. long. Visited the Battlefield this morning looking for our men - just saw the 115th - they suffered badly.
Col. Ward is killed also Capt. Murkland. 70 left in the Regt. We have 60 left in ours. Do not know how long our Corps will remain here - A large portion of the Army have started in pursuit of the enemy. It is a complete victory. I will write again as soon as I can. I am very well. A mail line just came in. There are some letters for me but they sent them downtown I hope I shall get them today.
From your Husband,