29 June 1864: “It would amuse you to notice the sounds of the different shells. The Rodman gives a sharp snap like a thunderbolt striking when it is fired, and the shell whizzes through the air like the sound of a locomotive at full speed.”

Item Description:  Letter, dated 29 June 1864, from George Hovey Cadman to his wife. Cadman (fl. 1862-1864) was a soldier in the 39th Ohio Infantry Regiment during the Civil War.

[Item transcription available below images.]

18640629_01

Item Citation:  From the George Hovey Cadman Papers, #122, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item Transcription:

June 29th.
 
Gen. Sherman rode along our lines this morning. Gen. Dodge seems to think the campaign can not last much longer. I have been busy all the morning with company accounts, but it is not very pleasant work, for about thirty yards in our rear is a battery containing two Rodman guns and two twenty pound Parrotts. Some of the shells are not perfect, and burst over our heads as soon as they leave the cannon.
 
It would amuse you to notice the sounds of the different shells. The Rodman gives a sharp snap like a thunderbolt striking when it is fired, and the shell whizzes through the air like the sound of a locomotive at full speed. Some of them growl, some make a spluttering noise like a flock of large birds. There is on gun the boys call “the old hound” because it howls like a bloodhound, and there is another casemated battery the boys call “the sneaks,” because you can’t hear the report of the gun when it is fired till the shell flies over you. Yesterday the rebels had the impudence to open a battery on us and fired two guns, but before they could fire a third, at least twenty or thirty guns were brought to bear an the gunners did not stop long. It was the prettiest artillery practice I have seen yet.
 
We could not lift our heads above the works without the almost certainty of being shot, and as there was no chance to return the fire, it was no use to risk it. After the spat was over, it was amusing to hear our men ridiculing the rebs, and they back again. The night was so still and clear that voices could be heard for a considerable distance. The jokes were all in good humor, but it did seem strange for men who only five minutes before were trying to take each others lives, to be laughing and joking with each other. The rebel sharpshooters have some very good rifles of English make, Whitworths, that beat anything we have in our army. It is said they will kill at a thousand yards. It is a great advantage to them, as a fellow can dig a hole, get into it, and fire away with impunity.
 
If you do not send word that you are tired of these rambling letters, I shall send you one every few days, but if they should cease for a week or two, do not be uneasy, as circumstances may turn up to hinder me from writing. Wishing you, my love, all health and happiness, I remain my dear wife, 
 
Your affectionate husband,

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