Fifty-fourth Virginia Letter

In a letter recently obtained from the Gilder Lehrman Institute in New York, Confederate private Christian M. Epperly, of the 54th Virginia, wrote his wife on May 22, describing their hard fighting since May 1 and their attempt to flank the Yankee left at 4 pm on the 15th: “Ther was about 1,19 [sic] kild and wounded which was dun in about 10 minuets time in making a charge on the yankees whair they wer three Colloms deep wee had to fall back. This number was lost out of about 5 Companeys wee had 5 men killed out of our Company and 8 or 10 wounded.”

This conforms to other reports.

They faced the Fifty-fifth Ohio, where Osborn, of Company A reported “The Fifty-fourth Virginia Regiment of infantry formed under that terrific fire and charged our line. It was, of course, captured to a man.” 

Stevenson, the Confederate division commander reported  “The Fifty-fourth Virginia, on the right, leaped the trenches and rushed bravely upon the enemy, but found that there was no connection with General Stewart’s left, and being thus unsupported were compelled to fall back before the rest of the brigade moved out. … the regiment in less than fifteen minutes lost above 100 officers and men

(Note, the number 1,19 had been interpreted by Gilder Lehrman as 1119 but it seems clear, especially from his writing that they had lost “2,50” since May 1, that he was using such punctuation of numbers.)

Copyright 2017-2019 Robert G. Miller. All rights reserved.



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