17 May 1864:”… yesterday was a glorious day for the South. A desperate battle was fought near the Bluff.”

Item description: Letter, dated 17 May 1864, from L. L. Polk to his wife Sallie.  He gives an account of the Battle of Proctor’s Creek, a Confederate victory in Virginia under General Beauregard.

[transcription available below images]

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Item citation: From folder 2h in the L.L. Polk Papers, #3708, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

On the Turn Pike

Between Richmond & Petersburg

May 17th 1864

My own dear wife,

Thank God I am yet able to write. What troubles, what trials, & dancers we have passed through since I wrote you none can tell only those participating. Suffice to say that yesterday was a glorious day for the South.  A desperate battle was fought near the Bluff.  Commencing early in the morning & lasting nearly all day – our Brigade opening the fight bu assaulting the enemy in his breastworks & driving him in confusion before us.  Loss very heavy on both sides.  We are now pressing his rear as he flies to cover of his gun Boats.  Captured 4000 prisoners & a battery.  Slaughter of the Yankees desperate.  Fighting on our side as gallant as ever.  We had our killer – Frank Ratliff.  [?] or more mortally wounded, Kirby Pope shot through both lungs.  The Gillmores safe.  Joseph Moore badly in hand & arm.  A list will be published. I took a gun when we entered the fight & we all shot away our ammunition, over 40 rounds, & just at that time the enemy left his entrenchment & fled.  The victory is complete though dearly purchased,.  We will hardly meet him again as he is under his boats down at the junctions of the two rivers.

I would have written before but there was no possible chance to get a letter to Peters burg to mail.  I do not know that I can get this through though I hope it will reach you.  As soon as we get a chance I will write you again.  We are now in line of battle, though the Yanks are gone & we have been on hard duty night & day for 34 days, all worn out & exhausted, but in high spirits.  I saw Rit at Kinston as I left & had no time to write a word, asked him to write a word, asked him to write to you for me.  His Regt is at Petersburg I hear.  I wish I could write more but I cannot.  Sallie no hot be uneasy.  Trust in God.  Pray for his mercy & thanks him for his goodness. Nothing but his more than good Providence saved me yesterday. I stood by a small tree to shoot & 9 minie balls pierced it, not higher than my head. We drove them gloriously before us, I now hope that I can get letters to you, as they have left the RRoad. I will write often with the hope that you will get one.  Not heard from you since I left Kinston.  Hope & pray you are well, & all the family., May God bless & protect you is the constant prayer of your devoted husband,

L. L. Polk.

Be of good cheer.  Write to Petersburg Va.

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