December 1862 Letter by Private Joseph Baker, 15th New Jersey - Account of Battle of Fredericksburg - "The Rebels fight like bulldogs"

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December 1862 Letter by Private Joseph Baker, 15th New Jersey - Account of Battle of Fredericksburg - "The Rebels fight like bulldogs"

850.00

Item No. 1829531

A fascinating December 14, 1862 letter written by Private Joseph Baker of the 15th New Jersey just following their assaults at Fredericksburg. “The Rebels were in a trench and we could have no effect on them, for they would fire at us and then crawl down and load and we were out on open fire,” he wrote, adding, “The Rebels fight like bulldogs.” He gave a listing of the wounded men in his Company B, describing those wounded in the head, legs, arms, hands, etc. The regiment’s major and a captain were also wounded, he wrote. At the time the letter was written, Baker expected that his regiment would be ordered forward again, and that perhaps he would not survive. His premonition was nearly accurate—he was killed nearby at the Battle of Salem Church on May 3, 1863. The letter reads:

Camp near Fredericksburg, Va.
December 14th, 1862

Friend John
Dear Sir,
I received your letter and was glad to hear from you. I would have answered it sooner but we have been on the march. We crossed the Rappahannock Wednesday morning Dec. 12th on the Pontoon Bridge. We shelled the Rebels 1st so we could cross Saturday morning Dec. 13th 1862. We our Regt was put on the outposts as pickets We were not there but a few hours before firing commenced, and at 2 o’clock P.M. our company was into it. The Rebels were in a trench and we could have no effect on them, for they would fire at us and then crawl down and load and we were out on open fire. Soon up came the 4th N.J. Regt and then we charged on them and drove them out of the trench. They soon made a stand & the 4th Regt. formed into a line of Battle & we too our company, and then it commenced. It lasted about 2 hours. The firing was kept up by our pickets until 8 o’clock & in fact they were firing all night. I will give you the names of those wounded in our Company. Ord. Sergt. Geo. Martin shot in the head, Simon S. VanNess in the knee, Dick Bulgin shot in the hip, Len Cooper in the leg near the hip, John Thompson shot in left arm, Zachariah Seals shot in the jaw, Jim Timmins in the hand, John P. Brink in the hand, Jim Egbert wounded in leg, Abraham King in leg, Wm. Broadwell in the left shoulder. Missing Ed Albertson, Henry Cole, David L. Hayes, and one man I believe. “I” Company suffered bad, but they fought well. Us 3, J. Reidinger, J. Stutz, and myself are well. They all send their best respects to their families. I have not heard how many were killed & wounded in the Regt. Our major, Major Brown, was wounded in the leg and our Sergt. Major killed. Capt. Slater was shot in the knee and had to have his knee amputated. Today (Sunday) we are laying still. We expect to go into it tomorrow again. Our troops are in possession of Fredericksburg. I had a bullet shot right through my blanket, which was strapped on my back. It was pretty close I tell you. If I should be so unlucky as to get shot I wish you would please take my things & give them to my sister if you please. The Rebels fight like bulldogs. Please let my sister have $10.00 ten dollars as she has lost a child and will need &c. Please let my sister see this letter as it will save me the trouble of writing twice. You will please read it for her. You will please do all you can to make her comfortable. I will close. My love to all. Direct as before.
From Your True Friend
Joseph Baker

The letter was written on four pages of a stationery sheet measuring about 4 3/4” x 7 3/4”. It is in very good condition as shown, with only minor foxing and toning. Creased where originally folded.

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