Letter written by Corporal Wesley Langs of Company F, 6th NY Cavalry, to his brother William, from Malvern Hill, VA. His regiment crossed the Rapidan River, and have been marching towards Richmond. He describes destroying the railroads and how they charged the Confederate fortifications at Richmond and held them for a day before being forced to leave. Langs has heard news of the Army of the Potomac, and how General Hancock has captured thousands of Lee’s men. He describes the massive casualties suffered since crossing the Rapidan, and how after one day of fighting he “saw the ground covered with dead Rebels.”
Malvern Hill, Va
May the 15 1864
Dear Brother as it has been a long time that you have not heard from me and it being the first opportunity that has presented itself to me I thought I would write and let you know that I am still alive and well I suppose you thought that I might be dead when you herd about the movement of our cavalry which I will give you a detail account We crossed the rhapadan [Rapidan] May the fourth and have been marching and fighting every day since Our movement has been on to Richmond We got in the rear of Lees army and distroit [destroyed] the rail roads which caried his supplies with all the supplies and ammunitions.
We came on a guard that was takeing three hundred of our men to Richmond and recaptured all of them On the twelfth we came to the fortifycations of Richmond and charged the works and took them We held them untill the next day when we were obliged to leave them We had a hard fight before we gave them up Now we lay on the old battle ground of Malvern Hill where we were two years ago – about six miles above Harrison’s Landing We herd this morning that the Army of the Potomac was driving the enemy and that General Hancock had captured twenty-five thousand men all of old Stonewall Jacksons Division We have lost some good men since we crossed the rhapadan. James Chilson is wounded He was struck in the shoulder with a ball
We do not expect to stay here any length of time The Gunboat is up here and General Smith is at Petersburg Everything is on the move We never saw [such] fighting before It is horible We fought in the woods one day and the next day I was over the same place and saw the ground covered with dead Rebels I want to see the end of this war as soon as posable [possible.] There has been blood enough spilt If we can get hold of the right ones we will soon put an end to such carnage As far as I can learn our armies are doing well I have not time [to] write all the news this time You must write often as you can and dont wait for me Direct as before Good by this time
Wesley Langs enlisted at age 25 on December 27th of 1861. He was promoted to corporal on November 1st, 1862, sergeant January 1st, 1865, and was captured at Trevillian Station, VA on June 11, 1864. He mustered out sometime in 1865.