This is one of six letters that were written by Jacob M. Buroway, the son of Isaac Buroway and Mary Hollinger of Navarre, Stark county, Ohio. [Note: there are various spellings of the surname but we have used the name on the family gravestones.] Jacob enlisted in Co. A, 107th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) — a regiment composed largely of immigrant Germans from Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. Also known as the “5th German Regiment,” it was organized at Camp Cleveland in the summer of 1862 and mustered into federal service on Sept. 9, 1862. The regiment did not “see the elephant” until the Battle of Chancellorsville where they were surprised by Gen. Stonewall Jackson’s flank attack and skedaddled, earning them the ignominious sobriquet, “the Flying Dutchmen.”
Jacob was wounded in the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. Promoted to corporal on February 1, 1864. Mustered out with the company on July 10, 1865.
Jacob wrote these letters principally to his brother, John Buroway.
This letter is one of thousands of letters transcribed by William Griffing as part of his online repository of Civil War letters, Shared & Spared. For more of the compelling letters he makes available to read, visit the Spared & Shared Facebook page.
Camp near Brooke’s Station in Eastern Virginia
At the same old camp again
May the 8th A. D. 1863
I will take my pen in hand to announce to you that through the escapes that I have made of lately, I still have the privilege of announcing to you that I am well and all right yet. We had to leave our camp ten days ago and they marched us some 30 miles around for to head [off] the rebs. The first we went to Hartford Church and laid there till 4 o’clock in the morning. Then we started all that day and all night till 3 o’clock in the morning. Then we laid there till dinner. Then we started and marched on till 9 o’clock in the night. Then we crossed the Rappahannock River and marched on that night till 3 o’clock in the morning, Then we stopped probably two hours. Then we had to sling knapsacks and travel on to the battlefield. Then we laid there till about midnight. Then we got the news that the enemy was near. Then we all had to go to work and build up a fence for to save us and we laid behind that fence all night and watched for the enemy but they didn’t come that night.
Then the next day the pioneers dug rifle pits. That was on Saturday. And on Saturday evening the rebs made the attack at the right wing and there is where we were. They came on to us quite unexpected with sixty thousand strong and fired on three sides and that came too heavy. We couldn’t hold our ground. We had to retreat or our whole brigade would of been captured. And so we fell back to where we got more force. Then we fought them till 10 o’clock in the night. Then the rebs gave up. But on Sunday morning they attacked again at 8 o’clock in the morning and fought us on that day till two o’clock in the afternoon—but we weren’t in that fight on Sunday. We were right below the battle in the entrenchments looking to be attacked every minute. But on Saturday evening those old soldiers says was the hardest artillery firing done that was known of yet.
My dear brother, it goes awful in a battle. The balls come as thick as hail. Oh brother, you ought of just seen the killed and wounded. It is horrible to think over. The dead men laid in piles and the road just full of wounded getting to the hospital. Some had their legs shot off, others arms, others hands. Some shot in the head. Some wounded in the legs, some in the arms. I seen several that were shot right through the belly and wasn’t dead. In the field where we fought was a nice big brick house and they were several women living in that house but they were secesh women and they were dressed in silk. On Sunday about ten o’clock our men took a lot of prisoners and some of them prisoners were wounded seriously—especially one [who was] such a good-looking boy. He had his right arm shot off and one of them gals lead that boy to the hospital and the blood of his arm run down over her silk dress that she was all one blood. That looked hard but she said that she would stick to him or else die with him. Now you can see how they stick together. They hain’t like the folks in the North now. There is enough of people in the North that just laughs at us boys to be such fools as to go and fight but they never think that we stand between the enemy and their homes—to protect them and save the country. They never think of that. Now for instance, what would become of our country if we would all give up and go home? Why they would just come through our land and destroy everything that we have. Oh dear brother, I do wish this war would soon come to a close. You may believe me or not, brother.
You folks to home don’t imagine atall how hard the poor soldiers has it on their march. They marched us so hard that we had to throw everything away and the five last days it rained all the time and we hadn’t the sign of a shelter to go under [but] had to stick in the entrenchments all the time day and night. And yesterday when we came back to the old camp, we had to wade a run that took us nearly under the arms. We were all as wet as cats and hadn’t a dry stitch of clothing to put on and no shelter to sleep under and the weather was middling cold—especially after night. It is enough to kill any person without shooting them. We lost in our brigade nine hundred and some 70 men and in our regiment one hundred and seventeen. In our company [there are] seven that are wounded and missing. [Cpl.] Daniel Stahl got wounded slightly and Henry Dinins hain’t with the regiment yet. He is either taken prisoner or killed. ¹ It hain’t known yet for certain what become of him but William [Buroway] and I got through safe—never got touched with a ball, but narrow escapes we made. Took King Jesus for my captain. I trust in the Lord and He will take me through safe and by this I will come to a close hoping that these few unworthy lines may find you all well. Take care of yourself brother and live close to God for we don’t know how soon we may be parted on this world. Farewell, farewell, brother, father, mother, farewell to you, hoping to see you again.
— Jacob M. Buraway
to brother John Buraway, yours truly, write soon.
Address your letter to J. M. Buraway, Co. A, 107th Regt. O. V. I., via Washington D. C., in care of Capt. [John H.] Pero