Bygones of Monroe:
Letter from Co. A., 4th Michigan - Before Yorktown
We have received a private letter from George W. Owen, a young man who left this office a year ago to enter Company A, 4th Michigan Regiment, now encamped before Yorktown, and the greater part of which we take the liberty of placing before our readers.
Camp In Front Of The Enemy,
Yorktown, Va., April 21st, 1862
We are camped near the bank of York River, about two miles below Yorktown, anxiously awaiting the time for the attack on the rebel fortifications. We are not idle, however, as we have picket duty about once a week, and from one to three hundred are detailed nearly every day to work on the breastworks and fortifications, which are being thrown up, with range of the enemy’s guns. How long it will be before Gen. McClellan is ready to make an attack, is impossible for me to determine, but judging from the way the work is progressing, it will not take long to throw up breastworks along the entire line. There is firing every day along the lines, but with what effect is more than I know. It is quite an amusement to us, to hear shells whistling around, and exploding, as long as they do not hurt anyone. I see by the papers that the rebels are concentrating all their force at Yorktown, which they can spare at other places. They are also at work extending their fortifications and mounting more guns. No doubt they will make a desperate stand here, but of course will have to yield after a while, as defeat is out of the question on our side. You may say I should not be too confident of success; but I can assure you that there will be some desperate fighting indeed, ere the army of the Potomac is defeated.
While the 4th Mich. Regiment was on picket last Friday, a lamentable affair occurred: Co. C. (Capt. Woods Co.) went out on post just before dark, and a little after dark the Captain was going along the lines, with four or five men with him to place on a new post, and he got outside the picket line and the guard, seeing some one coming toward him from the outside, drew up and fired; as such were the orders. The ball passed through his (the Captains) bowels, fatally wounding him. He lived but a short time. He said the picket was not to blame. Capt. Wood was senior Captain of the Regiment and was a good officer. He was buried yesterday.
Capt. Spaulding’s wound is healing up and he will soon be able to take command of his company again. Company A is all well every man being able to do duty. I heard that a private belonging to one of the companies died at the hospital yesterday.
Truly yours, G.W.O.
(Monroe Commercial, May 1, 2012, Page 2, Column 3)