George W. Pearsall’s third letter relating his experiences during the 1864 Overland Campaign was written on the 16th of May, addressed to his wife, Sarah. Pearsall’s regiment, the 55th North Carolina of Joseph Davis’s (the Confederate president’s nephew) brigade, had not been engaged since the 10th. This provided Pearsall and his comrades with ample time (if five days can be considered ample) to rest and recuperate from the hard campaigning they had so far experienced in the campaign.
With both armies still duking it out around Spotsylvania Court House, Pearsall’s division had been moved back to Lee’s right flank after repulsing the Union attempt on the left. After coming tantalizingly close to breaking Lee’s lines on the 12th (despite destroying a salient in Lee’s center and capturing many prisoners), Grant had also reshuffled his lines in preparation for another turning move toward Richmond. While the armies had previously faced each other on a roughly east-west axis, they now faced off on more of a north-south orientation.
Pearsall witnessed a charge by a neighboring brigade which managed to capture 150 Union prisoners. He also testified to the furious cannonading done by both sides, observing that the fire of one nearby piece “makes them [Union soldiers] git when she opens on them”. Pearsall noted that the Union lines were approximately one mile from Lee’s and that the weather had been rainy and wet, ill-suited for active campaigning but favorable to the armies as it afforded them a chance to rest and write.
Pearsall noted to his wife that “it is grate pleasur to me that I have gon threw the hevy batls safe so far” and concludes by praying to God for safe conduct through the remainder of the conflict. A line at the end even mentions for her to “take care” of the letter for they were written on captured Yankee paper!
You may read Pearsall’s letter of the 16th at the following link: