Camp in the Meadow on the Bank of Pamunky Creek, Va.
May 14, 1862
We are still on the move. Am now about 15 miles above West Point on the Pamunky Creek & about 25 miles from Richmond. Last night we camped at a place called Perham’s Landing & this afternoon we are camped about 3 miles up the creek from there. Short march today. The boats came up to this place & can go no further up. Our marches will be short as we have to skirmish every foot of ground & we are close by the Rebel works. We expected a fight today but hardly think we shall. We may tomorrow & we may at any moment. They are fortified from here to Richmond & I suppose they will contest every inch of ground. What the plan will be, I can’t tell. We may not press very hard till McDowell & Banks are ready. Norfolk, [the] Merrimack, & James River are ours & the gunboats have gone up.
It is a fine country here. Last night there was about 50,000 men camped in one piece of wheat of nearly 200 acres. Fine looking wheat it was but it got awfully trod down. Today we are in a field of clover of about 200 acres. The grass is about 8 inches high. The farmers here have got their crops in & they look fine. They were all Secesh & were not troubled but the most of the Whites have fled & the Darkies left though the Rebels took several thousands to work on their fortifications. Some have run away & tell us a good deal of news. You ought to see this army as it is now camped in this field between 40 & 50 thousand men—artillery, cavalry, & forage teams. It makes a grand scene. All in form of battle. If we are attacked, we are ready in a moment.
The fight at Williamsburg was a hard fight. Our loss was about 2,000 in killed & wounded—more of a battle than I supposed at the time. We was within a hundred rods of the fight & expected to walk in every moment. All day we stood in line, knapsacks on, & it rained terribly all day & all night. We lay on our arms all night wet as rats & cold & they threw shell pretty close, I tell you. Some burst within a rod of us. We expected to renew the fight in the morning but they left. You of course have read an account of the battle.
The next day the cavalry had a fight with some prisoners & killed about 30 Rebels. We lost about 15 men. Skirmishes are quite frequent & some are pretty sharp. There is not much sport in this business. I think the Rebellion will get its death blow not many miles from here & who lives through it will see a happy time. But if there is a general engagement, it will be the greatest battle ever fought in this country.
We see Gen. McClellan almost every day. This army is a perfect machine. Everything works as it should. The Signal Corps is a fine thing. The Left Wing knows exactly what the right are doing. The General 5 miles off knows what is wanted. This is done by flags of different colors. Men placed on high ground some places can signal 2 miles at once. There is also men to put up the telegraph as fast as we move. This will come into the headquarters of every Division so an order can be given & the men in five minutes will be under arms.
This afternoon is very rainy & we shant move probably. I heard today that Hod Wills, Charlie Sanborn, & Tip Goodwin had gone home. Free Colburn is a waiter in the hospital at Newport News. The boys are well and feel well. I must close. Write often & send those stamps & the Journal. Papers are very scarce. Tell Mother not to worry for we hope to come out right. Philo is writing to Isaac. Love to all. Goodbye. — Edson Emery
P. S. I learn that we are encamped on the Rebel Gen. Lee’s Plantation of about 1,000 acres.