1864-07-31in front of Petersburg, Va.
Camp 45th Regt P V V

in front of Petersburg, Va.

July 3lst/64

Dear Parents

Today presents a vast contrast to yesterday. Night before last troops were moving in every direction and yesterday morning about 3 oclock the fuse was lighted and we awaited some moments in expectation. We felt the earth jar and then the cloud of dust and smoke filled the air. The artilery along the lines opened their tremendous fire. The ground fairly trembled with the discharge of our batteries which lasted for about half an hour. When the charge was made, our 2nd Brigade went in first. When we followed we carried the fort and its works with considerable loss. The niggers were sent in to make the 2nd charge. They rushed up to the fort behind us and part of them came over and soon the works were filled with white and black soldiers crowded and jammed in so there was hardly room to stand. We carried the works in rear of the fort and were ordered to charge the works of the enemy some 4 or 5 hundred yards in rear but the enemy had such an enfilading fire on us that we could not advance. Then we were ordered to charge the works to the left which were equally as bad for we had no support and there were not over 200 men in our Brigade. The enemy had 3 batteries on the right and a heavy fort and line of pits in front and 2 batteries on the left and a heavy line of Rebel infantry on the right. Before we could make the charge to the left the Rebels came up on a charge on our right and the first thing we knew they were right in our midst hollering for us to surrender. We captured some of them and drove them back. They soon rallied and came on the 2nd time. Then commenced a hand to hand fight and another such a fight I hardly think will be found in the annals of history. It was a fight for life or death. To surrender with the niggers we knew would be death or we thought would be for some of the Rebels would surrender and then turn and kill our men. After the 2nd charge I thought it wise to make my escape. I run the gauntlet in safety and got into our old pits. Some of our men remained there till near night. What could get away did so. 4 or 5 of our officers were left in the fort. What their fate is we do not know, Capt Dibler of Co B, Lieut Seely of Co H, Lieut Vavlan of Co A, Lieut Catlin of our Co. The loss of Regt amounts to 69 killed, wounded and missing. It was horrible to see the slaughter but all is still today except some picket firing. I forgot Capt. Richards of Co G, making five in all officers, 2 of our Co were wounded that we know of. I never want to see another such a time. We could not hold the fort but hold our old position and the Rebels theirs. The fort is destroyed. I think their loss is about as large as ours. We shall not know our whole loss until we get the officer's reports.

I have no more to write at present. Henry Foot was here today. He says the boys in his Co. are well. This leaves me well. Write soon to your ever Affectionate Son

J.D. Strait