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[376]

August 22.

I had to come down at noon the day we went into the trenches. I was pretty sick then, for me, and I barely managed to walk half the distance. I found an ambulance luckily which brought me the rest of the way. It is the first time since I have been in the service that I have not been able to walk. I got into the tent, took some medicine, had the sand washed off, and felt a good deal better. So it has been ever since. I feel pretty bright at times, especially in the morning; but a chill comes over me at noon, and I am good for nothing until next day. . . . . Our men are all sick again. We are down nearly as low as we were in the worst times. It is discouraging to be losing ground so, just as we seemed to be gaining so fast. The trouble is mostly chills.

There, I have written a very melancholy letter; but it could not be helped. The next time I write, no doubt everything will be much more cheerful.


It was the last letter the brave man ever wrote. Four days afterwards he fell at the post of duty.

‘On the afternoon of the 26th of August,’ writes a friend and brother officer, ‘three hundred men of his regiment were ordered to be in line in the foremost trenches, to charge and capture the advanced rifle-pits of the enemy. At this time Lieutenant Perkins, almost conquered by fever, had been prevailed upon to abstain from work for a few days; but now nothing could induce him not to rejoin his regiment. To use the words in which Brigadier-General Stevenson wrote, “My friend had been quite ill for two or three weeks and was off duty, but he insisted on going forward with the regiment, notwithstanding all the officers advised him to remain in camp. When the regiment was having extra ammunition issued to them before starting, I persuaded him to come to my tent and dine with me, which he did; and I begged him not to go to the front. He answered that he could not remain behind, he should be so uneasy during all the time the regiment was gone. Colonel Osborne at one time proposed to order him to remaim in camp, but did not, as James was so desirous of going.” The regiment charged. In a few moments they had gained the works of the enemy, captured seventy prisoners, and with their spades were throwing up a breastwork in the very front and teeth of the concentrated fire of Fort Wagner. Perkins's men were avoiding this tremendous cannonade by sometimes dodging; and the work was not so brisk as he wished it. “It is no use to dodge,” he said, “do as I do,” and stood upright ’

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