Letter from Austin, Matthew S.

Soldier: Austin, Matthew S.
Allegiance: Union
Unit/Service Branch: 5th Infantry
Home State: New Jersey
Date Written: Tuesday, August 5th, 1862
Location: Near Harrison’s Landing
Correspondence Type: Letter
Subjects: Battlefield, Commanders, Comrades, Eastern Theater, Family, On the March, Rumors, Strategy, Warfare
Camp Fifth N. Jersey Vols.
James River, VA.

My Dear Father~

I have yet to communicate the non- arrival of the box sent me on the 25th and my fears are that it will be as tardy as the package of June 21st. I most need shirts and hence I feel anxious.

The monitoring of business is changed today - an expedition left our lines last night (some thousands strong) purposely to demonstrate against the enemy in the neighborhood of “Malvern Hill”. Maj. Gen. Hooker has command - his own (or former) division has the lead. We heard from him early this morning, through his guns and we knew from the sound of the guns that the enemy were replying vigorously. After two hours (perhaps three) the cannoning was resumed only at intervals and then apparently at a greater distance off. So accurate is sound, as conveyed to the ears, that we feel safe in saying that Gen. Hooker has succeeded in driving the enemy from his position, if he has not captured a good portion of it. Had any reverse occurred to our arms, we should have heard of this. We are quite anxious to hear directly from the front. The “Hill” will, doubtless. Be permanently occupied by our forces. That it was ever evacuated by McClellan, is inexplicable to me.

An expedition, having the same object in view, started out on Saturday night but returned without accomplishing anything.

Maj. Webb commenced the payment of this brigade yesterday. Col. Cook of Trenton was here yesterday - left for Trenton this morning (or designed to).

Several of your wounded have recently returned - among them Lt. Young of Freehold, who reports John, at that place, in good health and spirits. I received a letter from J. of July 30, through young Thomas of Trenton.

I notice in the Monmouth Herald, of recent date, the appointment of Adjutant of the 14th NJV., which settles the point for the various applicants from this. Lt. Col. and Major were yet vacant. Business with us (5th) foes smoothly since Lt. Col. Sewell has had command. Should the command ultimately fall into his hands, I have no doubt he would soon take notice of my claims to promotion, in which case I should not desire to be transferred to any other.

Your delay in writing is evidence that you will have no immediate success in securing my promotion. It is an uphill business when it has to be secured through a transfer to some other reg’t. I shall wait patiently, my time here.

9 o’clock p.m.

Our forces, today, took possession of and hold “Malvern Hill”. What the casualties have been on our side or on the side of the enemy, I do not know. I hear we took quite a squad of prisoners - do not know how many. Tomorrow morning at 4 o’clock I am going to the “hill” with provision for the 5th.

Col. Starr returned to camp this evening.

I was told, this evening, that Gen. Patterson of this brigade was sent to his quarters today under arrest. I do not know if it be true. He is at his quarters, not for ?.

Something of a fight is expected to tomorrow at the “Hill”. It is supposed “Johnny Reb” will attempt to recapture the peace.

I feel quite well today and send love to all in Trenton.

Very Truly

M. S. Austin
Fifth NJV