Pittsburg Landing Saturday April 12, 1862
My Dear wife
I can hardly write at all but I cannot resist the temptation to begin a letter to you though I don't know whether you will be able to read it. I don't expect to get it finished for several days because it is a long painful effort for me to write. Every letter is formed as slowly as if I were a school boy taking my first lessons. I asked Captain Blackmar to write to you several days ago-suppose he has done so, I wrote a few lines with a pencil day before yesterday. I could not then write with a pen at all. Yesterday I asked young Stone to write to you. He told me he had done sc. So I expect they have told you all about how we are flying right by the enemy daily expecting a battle and I cannot bear to think of going into battle again without first writing to you dear because I may never write to you again. I expect the Captain and young Stone have told you all we know about the battle so I will tell you more particularly about myself. Our boat arrived at Pittsburg Landing Sunday April 6 at 4:30A.M. I got up early and finished a letter to you and packed my trunk, ready to leave the boat. I couldn't see any signs of leaving so I took my writing materials and was about to begin another letter to you when Major Belknap told me the enemy had attacked us and we were ordered onto the field. I tell you the truth dear there was no alarm so far as I was concerned, I was glad of it. It was the opportunity we had long wished for. I took off my uniform coat and put on a blouse top, ripped the bugle off my cap, filled my canteen with water, put a few crackers in my pocket (I had no breakfast) fastened up my trunk and was ready.
Captain Blackmar was acting officer of the day and it was thought that he would not go out so I called the Company in line, examined their guns and gave them cartridges. A great many were sick. We only had about 48 out. I told them what we had to do and what I would expect of them. About this time the Captain came and took command. We marched up on the hill and halted and drew up the Regiment in line of battle, the colonel, Lt. Colonel and Major road along and talked to the boys. With few expectations the boys were cheerful and full of spirits. Deransel was on duty at the boat and did not go out in the morning. Van did not go out at all.
We were left on the hill an hour waiting orders. We could hear the reports of volleys of musketry following each other in quick succession and the heavy booming of cannons. The wounded were brought past us by loads some horribly mangled. At sight of these, some of the boys nerves quivered a little but most of them stood firm.
At last the word came "right-face; forward march" and the column moved forward with firm tread, hope and determination marked on every face. Would you know Maggie what I thought of? I thought of you, I had always intended to have a letter written to you, to be sent in case I was killed but it was so unexpected I did not get it done. I went to the Captain told him if I fell to write to you but before I could finish my feelings were to strong my voice gave way and I rushed back to place at the side of the camp. Maggie was it unmanly? I could not help it when I thought of my wife and little ones I might never see again, but I was resolved to do my duty. On the road out (it was 3 miles) Colonel Dewey road along the lines, shaking hands with most of the officers and a great many men. He came to me, offered his hand "God Bless you Phil". Maggie, from that moment I loved him. He proved himself a man in the hour of trial and is the only field officer that is worthy to hold his position. We were deceived in men before. We know them now. When I got to the field there was no discipline at all. Colonel Reid first confused the boys by giving wrong orders. He once gave an order when he wanted the men to face the enemy and fire so that it brought in line with their backs to the foe and right under a gauling fire. It was not their fault they obeyed his orders. As soon as the proper command was given they faced right and fired without flinching. This was the command we got all the way through when we got in it. The Colonel would say fire, we would give the command to the company and they took deliberate aim and blazed away like good fellows and then he would say stop firing, as you are shooting our own men. This was not the case, but it confused the men, my private opinion is he didn't know which end was up and I hope the next battle we go into he may be to sick to go out. The last hour we were out I never saw a field officer. Each company acted independently. Captain Blackmar was wounded and taken away. I was hurt so I could not use a weapon, but at the time I did not suffer any pain. We were under a heavy front and flank fire from musketry, grape, round shot and shell. The ball whizzed past us and tore the trees almost around. A shell burst on an encampment just in the rear of us and set the tents on fire, they blazed up furiously. Men were falling on every side two or three at a time. Three of our own company were already dead and many wounded.