2nd Maryland Infantry Battalion

Descendants Association

The Letters of Somervell Sollers

 

Fairfax Court House

August 4th 1861

Dear Meme,

Mr. Middleton family of Md. who keeps a hotel here, leaves for Maryland in a few hours and by him I will write you a few lines.Your letter of the 11th July was only received yesterday. I had almost dispaired of hearing from home again and you can imagine how welcome your letter was. I am surprised to hear that none of my letters have been received. I have written both to you and Mother and to Father and Fannie a short time ago. In my letters to the two latter, I gave an account of our glorious victory achieved on the 21st July. I hope Father does not now take a gloomy view of affairs. We are in fine spirits, and look upon the recognition of the Confederacy and the redemption of Md. as a sure thing. We are still encamped here expecting orders everyday to march. We have nothing to complain off, but our rations which are miserable, driving us very often to the Hotel to eat by which our funds are nearly all gone. There is evidently something -——- in the Commissary Department of our Reg. Our Colonel has promised to look into the matter and I hope there will be a change for the better.We received our uniforms a few days ago, gray pants & jackets and we look as gay as you please. Our's (Capt. Murray's Company) is the best in the Reg. numbering now 90 men – all gentlemen. Our Chaplain, Mr. Cameron, officiated last Sunday in the Episcopal Church of this village and preached a very good sermon. He has services today also. So you see, we have the privilige of hearing the word of God preached, if we are "eleven dollar privates", as we call each other.Thursday night our company were on Pickett duty 7 miles from the camp, and only 9 (miles) from Alexanderia. The Yankees had two Regiments only two miles ahead of us. The night before our pickets had been driven in and we were all apprehensive of an attack. We laid by our arms with scouts ahead, all night, not sleeping a wink. But we were not troubled, though we could distinctly hear their drums from our post. At day break we marched to the camp, accomplishing the distance in exactly l 1/2 hours. I tell you, we had a keen appetite for breakfast when we arrived and the majority of us went into the village and made a turiffic onsault upon the Hotel.Meme, when you write again, you must tell me more news. No matter how triffling the matter, it will interest me. Tell me all about the Pic-nic - who was there - who gave it - and what happened. How do the Cadets come on? Do they drill every Saturday evening yet? How does cousin Joe's Company get along? When I come home I must certainly be an officer in the company. John Bond_has answered your letter sometime ago. Our boys are all well except John Jenning who has a bad cold - nothing to hurt though. All send their respects.Meme, in conclusion let me tell you one thing - it is this, we will be in Maryland before the leaves begin wither. This is true, and then look out. Write soon all of you. Give my love to all and tell everybody that the Calvert boys are well and hearty, though the sleep on the hard ground with knapsacks for pillows, boots and pantaloons all on. Good bye & may God bless and protect you all. Your aff. brother

Somervell Sollers

 

 

Charlottesville, July 30th 1862 My Dear Mother, An opportunity at last presents itself, by which I can send a letter home and God grant that this may reach you, for I know how great will be your joy to hear once more from your long absent son. Since last Oct. I have not directly heard from home, but indirectly several times. Both of the Bonds (John & Jack) have received letters of date July 27th; how disappointed I was in not receiving one also, but perhaps you did not know of the opportunity.This month has been an eventful one for our glorious confederacy - brilliant victories have been won and out of the sin of blood shed before Richmond our stars so long obscured rose in renewed splendor and itsrags of hope have fully ripened us for the hardships of the last month. But before I proceed to describe the stirring scenes that were enacted before Richmond, I must go back and tell you of things that happened prior to it and which relate altogether to the movements of your son and will therefore be interesting to you.Last winter while in winter-quarters, John Bond and myself reenlisted. We did not take this important step without due considerationand we do not in the least regret doing so. Upon reenlisting, we were granted 35 days furlough and John Bond purposed that we should go to Alabama to spend it which weaccordingly did. I cannot express to you in words the kindness and hospitallity with which we were received not only by our relatives, but strangers, being Marylander's, was a sufficient passport and we were so feasted by the old people and so smiled upon by fair ladies that expiration of our furlough was most unwelcome tidings. Of all our kind friends, I must make especial mention of cousin Ada Duke, Jim Basil’s wife. Cousin Jim being in the service she was livingtemporarily with her brother Mr. William Davis and it was there we spent the most of our time. CousinAda treated us as brothers and I shall ever think of her as one of the kindest and best woman I have ever met. And Mr.Davis, her brother, and his estimable wife we could not too highly appreciate their hospitallity.Just think of us fresh from the hardships of camp occupying a splendid room, soft beds and every morning a “great-big" Mint Julep sent up to us. Do you wonder then, that we two loth to leave such luxeries, but military rules are orbitrary and go we must and go we did, arriving inn Richmond about the 28th March. Our Army was at the time, evacuating Centerville and Manassas and all the cars on that route were use for the purpose of transportation, so we were detained in Richmond, and before the road was again open, I was taken quite sick and was sent to the Maryland Hospital where for nearly four weeks I lay sick with what the Surgeons call Camp Fever. I was reduced to a mere skeleton, but at last, owing to the kind treatment of Doctors and nurses I was once more on my pins, but it was the 8th June before I left "Richmond to join the Regiment. I joined the Regt., at Staunton the 15th June where it had arrived after the celebrated retreat of “Old Stonewall" from Winchester ending as it did in the complete defeat of both Shields and Fremont. In all the fights the First Maryland participated and won unperishable honors, particularly in brief, but fierce skirmesh in which the heroic Col. Ashby was killed. They went into the fight with only 150 men and lost about 20 percent of that number. Our Company suffered severely, 4 being killed dead and 6 wounded. The regiment charged the celebrated Buck Tail rifles of Pennsylvania commanded by. Lt. Col. Kane. They were protected by a stone fence and it was when advancing up a steep hill to the charge that the Regiment suffered so much. But the brave boys never faultered and not a shot did they fire until within 30 yards of the enemy. But then they commenced and so deadly and murderous was the fire that the Buck Tails fled in confusion leaving the Colonel on the field, severely wounded. I suppose you have heard me mention an old schoolmate of mine, Robertson, from Charles County (Maryland). He was Captain of Co. "I" of our Regt., all from Charles County.  Poor Fellow he was killed almost instantly; while leading his company to the charge. When he fell, his men wavered a moment, but he cried out "forward men, don’t mind me", and these were the last words he was heard to speak. Col. Bradley Johnson’s horse wasshot from under him, but on foot he coolly led his Regiment. I would that it could have been my privilige to have participated in the glories and triumphs of the valley campaign, but providence ordered it otherwise. But in the great struggle before Richmond I am proud that I bore a part; when we left the valley for Richmond, none of us knew where we were going, and had no idea that "Old Stonewall" was about give McClellan an intimation of his ubiquity. But when on arriving at Ashland Thursday morning, enduring three days rations of hard bread and were provided with additional cartridges it became well known that “Old Jack“Smelt blood”.It was about 12 ‘oclock Friday 27th June that our Regiment got to the battlefield and about 5 'oclock p.m. we were led into action. Never in my life did I hear such musketry, it was one incursant roar. The Yanks were making a determined stand and their batteries were hitting with fearful effect upon our finest.  We were part of the finest. We were part of the reserve, all of which was now ordered up to carry, if possible, the enemies batteries. It is needless for me to say more than these words "Veni, Vidi, Vici". But it was through a “Valley of death" we went - the whistling of balls and the crashing of shells was awful. Every now and then the order to lay downwasgiven, and down we went, and a perfect storm of balls appeared to fly over us. But on we wentour brave Colonel on foot heading us, presently we could see the flash of the enemies guns and just then the 5th Alabama, who were in advance some 400 yards, broke and came running back like a parcel of sheep. Col.Johnson rode up to them and appealed to them in glorying words to form with us, and pointing to us, exclaimed "there is a regiment that never broke". A great many did join us and our small Regiment soon became a large body of men. The batteries were taken and night only put an end to the pursuit of the fleeing Yankees.For three weeks we marched and countermarched through the swamps of the Chickohominy, living on hard bread and a piece of fat meat every now and then. McClellan succeeded in escaping, but his loss in men, artillery and stores was immense. We captured 51 pieces of artillery, 6000 prisoners and their killed and wounded was very near 20,000. We are now at this place recruiting the Regiment, which owing to the discharge of 3 Twelve Month Companies and other causes, is now reduced to a very small number. This is a beautiful place and extremely healthy. There is a great deal more I could say, but I have not the time. I truly believe that Peace is not far off, and then when we all meet together we will talk the whole thing over. I have seen Miss Nannie Webster twice, the last time about two weeks ago, the morning we left Richmond for this place. Through her I heard that you were well, but that you were unhappy on my account. Now my dear mother, do not grieve on account of my absence, for I do not believe it is to last much longer and then too . . .

(letters ends here) Maryland Historical Society Ms. 1426 Somervell Sollers to his mother, Mrs. Augustus R. Sollers

 

 

 

 

 

Camp Maryland Line,

Mch. 7th, 64

Dear Meme,

Through the kindness of a member of my company I am enabled to write you a few lines. He writes home through a perfectly reliable channel and I send this enclosed in his letter. His name is Deale from the "Swamp" a brother of Miss Mary Deale's of whom I know you have frequently heard. Your letter by flag of truce was rec'd. I have answered it in like manner. You cannot think what a relief it was to hear once more from home. Your news in reference to the negroes did not surprise me, I was only in hopes that that "contagion" would not affect ours. I expect that many of the deluded creatures will be only to glad to get back to their homes one of these days. The quiet of our camp was disturbed a few days ago by a desperate raid of the Yankee Cavalry for the purpose of liberating their prisoners in Richmond. A part of the column did actually get within three miles of the city. But the whole affair proved a perfect failure. They were met and repulsed at every turn, their forces scattered, and after losing in killed, wounded and prisoners, a large number, the remainder escaped to the Peninsula. Our Battalion was out two days, guarding the roads and bridges near the place, but did not have the luck to meet the Yanks. But the Maryland Cavalry under Col. Johnson covered themselves all over with glory, and are justly regarded as the heroes of the occasion. They took more prisoners than they had men and came back to camp laden with spoils. We have again settled down and I don't think that the Yankees will try it over again after the lesson they just rec'd. There is a probability of our remaining here for sometime, if so, we can but have a pleasant time as we have comfortable quarters, the river near us, and the city close at hand. I want you to write me a long letter, to be sent by the person who takes this. To do so may occasion you a little trouble, but for my sake, do not let that deter you.

The gentleman who takes this letter is also in the habit of bringing over for particular parties, small bundles of clothing. He has just arrived with a bundle for young Deale, at whose house, he generally stops. Will you not endeavor to send me the following articles, as I do really need them. Two shirts made of light cassimere with a pocket, two silk hankerchiefs, some socks, a cravat, a toothbrush, a comb and a brown felt hat and if you possibly can, a pr. of stout shoes No.7. The articles I have mentioned would cost over here about $400. You must sew them up in a bag tightly and securely, and send them to Mr. Deale's with my name marked plainly on them. I have mentioned the matter to Deale, I know his sister, write to her explaining the matter and the bundle will be sent over. Can you do this for me? I know you will when I assure you the comfort the articles will afford your long absent brother. And Meme, send me your "likeness" if you can, and Mollies, Fannies and Gussies if possible. It is my only chance of seeing you for perhaps a long time. Tell them all to write. My love to Mother and the girls. Do not forget the pictures.

 

Always, Your affectionate brother

S. Sollers

P.S.  Mr. Deale lives near Fair Haven, Just across from Mrs. Garners Maryland Historical Society. The foregoing is a letter from Somervell Sollers to his sister Meme in Calvert County, Maryland, March 7, 1864.

 

 

 

Richmond Robertson Hospital
August 24th 1864

Dear Mother,

Since the commencement of the campaign, I am consious that you suffered a great deal on my account, there has been so much fighting and you have not heard whether I am alive or dead. Thank God, I can inform you that although we have been either fighting or under fire since the 3rd June, until last Friday 19th August on the Weldon Road, I had passed through all unscathed, when I was wounded slightly in the head. We were charging at the time and I was full tilt, when the first thing I knew I was sprawling on the ground with a strange sensation about my cranium. I soon found though that only a piece of my scalp, about the size of a silver 1/2 dollar, had been carried away. I got to the rear as quick as possible and am now here at this Hospital which is the best in Richmond. It is conducted entirely by ladies of the best families, who are untiring in their kindness and attention to our wants. I suppose I shall be all right again in 4 or 5 weeks. I intend applying for a furlough to Alabama as soon as I can travel. Jack Bond is well and the other boys from Calvert. I trust you may receive this, and as I know, it will be great relief.

Your Son,

Somervell Sollers

 

Richmond, Sept. 12, 1864

Dear Meme,

A friend of mine who leaves here tomorrow for Maryland has kindly offered to take this letter over for me and as he is one of us and perfectly reliable, I am sure it will reach you in shortest of time. I was made surprisingly happy last week on receipt of letters from you and Mollie dated 24th August. I had almost dispaired of ever hearing from home again. It was a fortunate thing for me that Mr. C. should have met you at the time he did. He gave me a glowing account of his reception by the ladies - said he never felt prouder in his life than when, despite his hard looks, he became the recipient of the warmest welcome to his native soil. Bob is a fine fellow and a No.1 soldier, and since our sojourn at Jordon Springs last summer, has been an eternal friend of mine. I hope you were pleased with him. How I wished I could have been with him but I do not expect to see my native land again "till this cruel war is over". We must be patient until then, trusting that the end is not to far distant; when Peace instead of war will reign in our midst and we shall be gathered together once more 'round the old hearthstone. Since you heard from me last, we have had fighting to our hearts content, there had not been a day since our fight at Coal Harbour that we have not been under fire more or less, round Petersburg we lived entirely in trenches and I assure you it is a mean life to bid. Let me give you some idea of it in a brief description. Our lines and their lines are from 75 to 200 yds., apart, at some point the former distance and at some the latter. Previous to the fights on the Weldon Road our Division occupied a portion of the line distants from the Yanks about 150 yds. Our picket's and theirs were only some 50 yds. apart. Fortunately for us, we found that an agreement had been entered into by the pickets not to fire unless it was really necessary, and we entered the trenches the Same arrangement prevailed. But still we were continually exposed to danger, for the firing on our left was kept up "morning, noon and night" and the stray balls were always hissing over and among us, so that seldom a day passed, but what some were killed, and wounded, and then the Yanks would take it into their heads that we were all asleep I suppose and wanted rousing, and open about a dozen guns and the way the shell and solid shot would whiz over us was a _____ then our batteries would answer, and all together this would be the most infernal den for an hour or more, keeping us fine fellows squeezed in the smallest possible space behind the "works" and bomb proofs, afraid to show our heads. This happened everyday, and then at night one third of each company were required to be up, armed and accounted, and at 3'oclock every man was routed and at his post along the whole line, so you see we did not hurt ourselves with sleep. Then we had to dig "traverses" or ditches in a zigzag style far to the rear for the purposes of bringing up reenforcements if necessary, without danger, and also for the conviences of the men in the trenches. I tell you I hate the sight of a shovel and pick. I have worked all night from 8'oclock till day light, and the balls flying in among us too, all the time.

Such was the life we led, bringing me to the eventful 18th and 19th of August when the Yanks having taken possession of the Weldon Road, two brigades, Our's and Davis' were marched down the road to drive them off. We failed to do so, because they outnumbered us largely, one whole corps opposed to our small Brigades. On the 18th after driving them for nearly a mile, we had to fall back for fear of being flanked. Our Battalion, as it always does, acted gallantly, we had 4 killed and 20 wounded. Among the killed was our Adjutant J. W. Laird, a former member of our company and a brave soldier. He fell while cheering the men on, in the hottest of the fray. In our company we lost 1 killed and 7 wounded. On the 19th the fight was revived in the evening and again we had to face the enemy with results similar to that of the 18th, after driving the Yanks a considerable distance and taking about 3000 prisoners we fell back again. We were not so fortunate as on the 18th, losing killed, wounded and taken prisoner about 50 men. I was wounded in charging the first line of works, I was struck on the head by a piece of shell and knocked senseless. When I recovered, the boys were far ahead and I got to the rear as quick as possible. I thought at first I was seriously wounded, but I had only been scalped. I have been here now more than three weeks at Robertson Hospital and am getting well rapidly fast.  Jack Bond was not in either days fight being sick in the Brigade hospital at the time. I heard the other day that he was still there. Jack has become very thin and is, I am inclined to think, very home sick. He seems to have no energy whatever, I am in hopes that Miss H.'s letter will rouse him a little. The other boys escaped unhurt and were well when I last heard from them, let their friends know of this. A friend of mine and a member of my company (Wm. Thelin) left here last Friday for Maryland. I gave him a letter of introduction to Mr. Magruder at who's house I advised him to stay, as he is afraid to go to Baltimore. He will bring over for me anything you may have to send. I have heard that a bundle did actually start from home for me, but had to be sent back, you can now send it and also if it is there, my old uniform coat. If you should meet Mr. Thelin, remember that he is a perfect gentleman and a friend of mine. Tell Mollie that I have never received that letter, she mentions as having written, full of U.S. stamps. I am glad to hear that she has chosen for her friends the two gentlemen whose initials she used. When you write again, tell me fully of the affaire de creux in which you are concerned. I am anxious to know all about it. It grieves me greatly to hear of the ill-health of Joe. I don't believe I could come home if anything was to happen to that dear boy. May God protect and watch over him. Write by Mr. Thelin a long letter. My love to Mother and all.  

S. Sollers

 

 

 

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