1862-09-19Camp near Brookville, MD
Sept. 19th 1862

Dear Parents

It is with pleasure that I now improve a few spare moments in writing to you this pleasant morning after another 7 days fight. The fight began just a week ago today and is not near ended yet. We have fought 2 battles and have been sent into the fight for the last five days. I wrote to you on the 15th just after the fight on Sunday and told you who was hurt and who was not in a few words and promised to give you a description of the battle as soon as I could but I guess you will have to excuse me for this time also for I have to write on my knee and my hand trembles very bad. On Monday after the battle on Blue Hill we started about 4 o'clock and marched through the battle ground about 5, saw beyond all along the road for about 1/2 mile the dead Rebels lay piled up in heaps and in one pile on the right of the road it was said there were 600 in one pile. It was the most horrible sight I ever beheld. Our men had all been carried off and all the wounded Rebels but the dead had not been buried, and all that I saw looked as black as a nigger or nearly all. Tuesday morning we started about 12 midnight and marched until we caught up with the main army and encamped for the night or rather until daylight which was but a few hours distant. We lay there until Wednesday moring when we marched up as reserves, a general engagement having begun about 4 o'clock. We were marched out in advance and ordered to move forward our whole brigade toward the enemy which was stationed on a hill behind a heavy stone wall. The skirmishers were thrown out but the distance was so great that they could not reach them but the grape and shell from their battery flew thick as hail all around us. Seeing we could do no good there we were ordered forward at a double quick into a little hollow through a plowed field. When going down the hill John Kirkpatrick was shot and fell at my feet but not one of us dared to stop to help him but on we went until we got under cover of the hill. We lay there but a few moments when we moved on still nearer. The rebs having left the stonewall we were ordered to charge and drove them from behind some buildings. We came up to a fence where we had a fair chance to mow them down but our officers would not let us fire but told us we were firing into our own men and they were still pouring the bullets into us as fast as possible but it was soon ascertained they were actually Rebels when we made a charge through a corn field and got into a cross fire from our own men. Then we fell back across a little brook and lay still and rested awhile until about dark when we marched back to the brigade where we first took the advance and lay all night. Yesterday we lay under the fire of the sharphooters until dark when we were relieved and moved back where we now lay. The ball has not opened this morning but how soon it will be is uncertain but it may not begin for several days. Our loss must have been heavy though we did not lose as many men as on Sunday out of our Regt., only one wounded in our Co. The Rebels held one of the strongest positions naturally that I ever saw but the 2nd Maryland drove them across the bridge with heavy loss on our side. The Rebels holding the height of ground beyond the stream had every advantage. I do not know that I have any more to write at present. All the boys from Elk Run are well as usual. Please give my respects to all enquiring friends as I have but little time to write and you claim the first and most Attention.

This from your Affectionate Son.

J .D. Strait

Direct to Washington, D.C.