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Letter of Edward L. Pierce.

The following letter from Edward L. Pierce, Esq., was addressed to Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts:

Beaufort, July 22, 1863.
my dear sir: You will probably receive an official report of the losses in the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts by the mail which leaves to-morrow, but perhaps a word from me may not be unwelcome. I saw the officers and men on James Island on the thirteenth instant, and on Saturday last saw them at Brigadier-General Strong's tent, as they passed on at six or halfpast six in the evening to Fort Wagner, which is some two miles beyond. I had been the guest of General Strong, who commanded the advance, since Tuesday. Colonel Shaw had become attached to General Strong at St. Helena, where he was under him, and the regard was mutual. When the troops left St. Helena they were separated, the Fifty-fourth going to James Island. While it was there General Strong received a letter from Colonel Shaw, in which the desire was expressed for the transfer of the Fifty-fourth to General Strong's brigade. So when the troops were brought away from James Island General Strong took this regiment. into his command. It left James Island on Thursday, July sixteenth, at nine P. M., and marched to Cole's Island, which they reached at four o'clock on Friday morning, marching all night, most of the way in single file, over swampy and muddy ground. There they remained during the day, with hard tack and coffee for their fare. and this only what was left in their haversacks; not a regular ration. From eleven o'clock of Friday evening until four o'clock of Saturday they were being put on the transport, the General Hunter, in a boat which took about fifty at a time. There they breakfasted on the same fare, and had no other food before entering into the assault on Fort Wagner in the evening.

The General Hunter left Coles's Island for Folly Island at six A. M., and the troops landed at the Pawnee Landing about half-past 9 A. M., and thence marched to the point opposite Morris Island, reaching there about two o'clock in the afternoon. They were transported in a steamer across the inlet, and at five P. M. began their march for Fort Wagner. They reached Brigadier-General Strong's quarters about midway on the Island, about six or half-past 6, where they halted for five minutes. I saw them here, and they looked worn and weary.

General Strong expressed a great desire to give them food and stimulants, but it was too late, as they were to lead the charge. They had been without tents during the pelting rains of Thursday and Friday nights. General Strong had been impressed with the high character of the regiment and its officers, and he wished to assign them the post where the most severe work was to be done, and the highest honor was to be won. I had been his guest for some days, and knew how he regarded them. The march across Folly and Morris Islands was over a very sandy road, and was very wearisome. The regiment went through the centre of the island, and not along the beach where the marching was easier. When they had come within about one thousand six hundred yards of Fort Wagner, they halted and formed in line of battle — the Colonel leading the right and the Lieutenant-Colonel the left wing. They then marched four hundred yards further on and halted again. There was little firing from the enemy at this point, one solid shot falling between the wings, and another falling to the right, but no musketry.

At this point the regiment, together with the next supporting regiments, the Sixth Connecticut, Ninth Maine, and others, remained half an hour. The regiment was addressed by General Strong and Colonel Shaw. Then at half-past 7 or a quarter before eight o'clock the order for the charge was given. The regiment advanced at quick time, changed to double-quick when at some distance on. The intervening distance between the place where the line was formed and the Fort was run over in a few minutes. When within one or two hundred yards of the Fort, a terrific fire of grape and musketry was poured upon them along the entire line, and with deadly results. It tore the ranks to pieces and disconcerted some. They rallied again, went through the ditch, in which were some three feet of water, and then up the parapet. They raised the flag on the parapet, where it remained for a few minutes. Here they melted away before the enemy's fire, their bodies falling down the slope and into the ditch. Others will give a more detailed and accurate account of what occurred during the rest of the conflict.

Colonel Shaw reached the parapet, leading his men, and was probably killed. Adjutant James saw him fall. Private Thomas Burgess of company I told me that he was close to Colonel Shaw; that he waved his sword and cried out, “Onward, boys!” and, as he did so, fell. Burgess fell, wounded, at the same time. In a minute or two, as he rose to crawl away, he tried to pull Colonel Shaw along, taking hold of his feet, which were near his own head, but there appeared to be no life in him. There is a report, however, that Colonel Shaw is wounded and a prisoner, and that it was so stated to the officers who bore a flag of truce from us, but I cannot find it well authenticated. It is most likely that this noble youth has given his life to his country and to mankind. Brigadier-General Strong (himself a kindred spirit) said of him to-day, in a message to his parents: “I had but little opportunity to be with him, but I already loved him. No man ever went more gallantly into battle. None knew him but to love him.” I parted with Colonel Shaw between six and seven Saturday evening, as he rode forward to his regiment, and he gave me the private letters and papers he had with him to be delivered to his father. Of the other officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Hallowell is severely wounded in the groin; Adjutant James has a wound from a grape-shot in his ankle, and

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