Letter of Charles Chase

Saturday morning, May 28th, 1864

Dear Brother:

Nothing new this week. I has passed away like the one before, some skirmishing but no general arrangement. Yesterday this army left its works, falling back near the James River, a little below where we were entrenched. What it is for I cannot tell. Perhaps General Butler can, although I doubt it some. The most, or part, of both corps are here, and from the appearance of the camps one would not imagine there was any enemy within one hundred miles of here. The men are washing and making themselves as comfortable as possible. I do not think we shall remain in this quiet condition long, but will either make a move by ourselves or join some other part of the army. I see that some of the Northern papers are finding fault with Butlerís generalship. I hope he has done as well as any man could. His army has not the greatest confidence in him. Gilmore and Smith are believed to be good officers, but nearly all agree that Buther can handle the pen with much more ability than he can the sword. The position we held the Saturday morning before the fight was a strong one and quite near fort Darling. Gilmore, it is rumored, urges Butler to make that his base of operations, make that place so he could hold it against a large force, and then commence work against Fort Darling. This was not done, and after a battle, in which neither side gained much, we thought it best to fall back; worked ten days night and day to strengthen that position, and now it looks as though we were to leave them. It may come out all right in the end, but if this army was consulted, General Butler would be sent to his place and Gilmore given his place. Hope I shall have to take back all I have said against Ben, but it does not look like it now. Smith is a pretty good general, I Guess, - hardly think he is pleased with the position he now holds. The 18th A. C. has some good officers, but taking them as a whole, I think they are a little behind those of the 10th. Weitzel did command the division that we are in, but it is rumored that Gen. Martindale is in command now. It is rather warm, but the troops are not suffering much from the heat. So much duty night and day has caused some sickness, but the army is as healthy as could be expected. I am a little tired and have lost some flesh, but I am good for some time to come.


[Source: War Letters of Charles Chase, 1862-1864, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia]