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A letter from Confederate soldier Edwin Kerrison to his sister about his experience during the Battle of Gettysburg, July 7, 1863.

Edwin Kerrison fought for the Confederate Army for the Second South Carolina Infantry (also known as the Second Palmetto Regiment), Company I (from Charleston). Part of Joseph Kershaw’s Brigade, this regiment fought at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863 in the Peach Orchard and the Wheatfield, two of the most vicious fights during Gettysburg. By the end of the day, the regiment had lost more than half its men, and soon the remaining soldiers would retreat to Virginia with the rest of the Confederate army. Grape, shell, and canister, mentioned on page 4 of the letter, refer to kinds of ammunition used during the Civil War. Grape, or grapeshot, consists of iron balls, often bound together and fired to disperse across a large area. Shells are hollow iron projectiles filled with a combustible mixture, usually set to go off in the air above the target. A canister is a metal cylinder containing iron or lead balls used to fire a huge shotgun blast at close range.

Transcription:

Near Hagerstown
July 7th, 1863

Dear Sister –
I now write with great haste to let you know where we are. On the evening of the 2nd we fought a desperate battle at Gettysburg in Pa. in which we suffered terribly being compelled to stand the fire of artillery 3 ½ hour being within the hundred & fifty yards of said battery. Our Reg. acted gloriously but has lost many a brave man – Charly I am sorry to say was wounded not by any means dangerously. He was shot in the thigh with a piece of shell & in the face by a buck

[page 2]
shot. He was in fine spirits when I last saw him & doing finely. Among the killed in our company are the Sergt. LaBruce Mortimer, Jos. S. Gadsdin, Sep Miles, E. J. Mills & Lewis Daniels. The wounded are Charly K – Ed. Gaillard, Preston F. Wescott, Jos. Harley, C. J. Colcock, Wm Lawton, C. P. Bellinger, Leuit S. Bissell & L. Osander a substitute. Gaillard was shot in the arm the ball resting on the bone. Wescott shot through the muscles of one of his legs near the thigh not dangerous. Harley very much the same. Colcock is from Charleston shot in the left hand which was amputated at the wrist. Lawton one arm amputated Belliger shot in the thigh.

[page 3]
Lieut Bissell shot in the calf of the leg part of the bone broken. Osander shot in the face & one leg badly shattered Seg’t Moultree Braiesford was slightly wounded in the leg & left to take care of the wounded (from our company). Since we left (the 5th) our wounded have been all captured by the Yankees – Charly among the number. They will receive more attention & be more comfortable than if they were with us. Charly was doing first rate & may possibly get home for a short time after being exchanged. Do if you can let the families of the men I have mentioned in my letter [know]

[page 4]
of their fates. We advanced on a battery in an open field under a most terrific fire of grape shell & canister. We have only 8 or 9 men for duty in the company now. Our Regt has but two Captains left – Dr. Elliot & Capt Graham. Col. Kennedy was shot in the arm & Capt Wallace was shot in the arm also. Wallace was acting major at the time. Our Regt carried in some three hundred & odd & had 169 killed & wounded. I have not time to write particulars of the fight now as I am in haste.

With best love to all I am as ever your aff brother

Edwin

{Written along left margin} We expect to fight another battle soon at Sharpsburg.