Item description: This letter, dated 22 June 1862, was written by William Cooley to his parents in Connecticutt. A member of the Connecticutt Volunteers, Cooley recounts the horror of assaulting fixed Confederate positions near Hilton Head, South Carolina. Wounded in the fight, Cooley describes the scene as a “slaughter pen.”
[Transcription available below images.]
Item citation: From the William Henry Cooley Papers #3678-z, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Hilton Head. June 22d. 1862
I will try to write a few lines to let you know how & where I am although you may know all about it by this time through the Papers.
Well I was in the fight on the 16th & got slightly wounded in the Right Arm just below the Shoulder. there was five wounded in my Com[pany] & our Capt. was killed poor fellow. how we miss him he was a brave & good man It was a hard fight. Bull Run was not a comparison to it. the Enemy had very Strong Batteries & Rifle Pits & we had to march right up in front of them. the charges of Grape & Canister from the Rebels raked us down in scores. it was a regular Slaughter Pen to march us up in the way they did but our Boys stood it nobly & Bravely every man had a fixed will & determination to drive the Rebels out of their Entrenchments but they were to strong for us It was a regular Hornets Nest & I never expected to come out of it alive. but as luck would have it I came away field of Battle with an honest & honorable wound just enough to give me a very unpleasant recollection of the field of Strife & who we were contending with.
We done all we could do with our small force to whip them out. but entrenched & fortified as they were it was an utter impossibility to do it. So we retreated in good order.
We are now erecting a Battery of nine Guns directly in front of the Rebel Batteries we have to work under cover of the night & when we get that done I guess we can Shell them out All of our wounded is here at the General Hospital at Hilton Head. my wound will soon get Better & then I shall return to my Regt. to give the Rebs annother brush. Your Son, Henry