I determined to do what I could to get recruits; but I can do very well without them if I must.
On the 11th of March the Twentieth left the camp at Poolesville
, and were transferred to the Peninsula
They reached Yorktown
on the 8th of April, and remained there until the evacuation of that place on the 4th of May.
The regiment took no part in the actions at Williamsburg
and West Point
They went up the York
to White House
On the 25th, Lowell
writes from Chickahominy Creek
, regretting that he is not in the advance with his brother.
The severe fighting at Fair Oaks
occurred on Saturday, the 31st of May, and Sunday, the 1st of June.
The Twentieth was engaged the first day, but was not in the worst of the fight; on Sunday they were only spectators.
describes as follows what he saw of the affair of Saturday, in a letter to a young friend:—
We have at last been engaged in a regular battle, though the Rebels have been so shy in using their big guns that shells are a rarity, and grape and canister are still unknown to us. At Ball's Bluff we had very severe firing for the space occupied. .It was as if a whole regiment were firing at a wall ten feet square; the bullets within that space would be very thick.
At Yorktown we saw the Rebels far off in their works, and occasionally saw and felt their bullets and shells . . . . . At West Point we were held as a reserve; and the reserves not being called into action, because the first line and the gunboats drove the Rebels back, we scarcely saw the evolutions of our own battalions and brigades on the wide plain. . . . . The scene of the fight was just hidden by a wooded hill; but our batteries were actively engaged within sight.
At Fair Oaks we had a foretaste of what is coming before the forts of Richmond. . . . . On Saturday we had an inspection under the Colonel, and soon afterwards we heard firing in front, and being ordered forwards, though the firing had then ceased, we advanced by a new road through an interminable swamp, and across the Chickahominy; and then, after a pause to load our pieces, we went on again; and the cannon beginning once more, we dashed forward through a brook up to our waists and mud up to our knees, and came up into the field of battle in the midst of random shots.
The right and centre of the line were already formed and engaged, and shells