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PostPosted: Fri Sep 08, 2017 12:18 pm 

Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:25 pm
Posts: 23

I recently purchased a copy of the May 1976 issue of Civil War Times Illustrated ((Volume XV, Number 2) on eBay. The cover is the familiar George Woodbridge color illustration "Berdan's Sharpshooters". The featured article is entitled "Sharpshooting With Berdan". The article is Corp. William C. Kent's account of the Seven Days' Battles. His account, signed "Your affectionate son", is dated July 28, 1862 at Harrison Landing, VA. The article has fascinating details of the action and includes a photo of William and his brother Evarts and remarks about Berdan, Ripley and Lt. Seaton. He describes the company losing many of their back packs do to them getting burned up.

Quotes about Berdan in the article are not news to any of us: "And here I want to bear testimony to the bravery of Col. Ripley, and to the unlimited cowardice of Col. Berdan." And "Col. Berdan loses what little coherency there is about him when he is placing men in position, and takes excellent care to be far in the rear before there is a possibility of being shot." The following from William must be the original source of the story about Berdan "going back for more ammunition" that is often referred to in modern era articles. ""Here we saw the last of Col. Berdan for the day. He gave us some incoherent orders which, if obeyed would have rendered this letter an impossibility, and then muttering something about sending forward ammunition, rode to the rear. We waited for Col. Ripley who soon came and set all right with a few calm words, and we deployed to the right of the road."

Near the end of Kent's long and detailed account he describes being hit in the shoulder by a spent ball and tells his family, "My love to everybody and don't say again that I don't write letters which are long enough". Kent survived the war, moved to Minnesota where he operated a lumber yard until his death in 1907. I have no idea where else this article can be found either on line or in print. Some of you longer serving "veterans" may already be familiar with this amazing account.

Captain Dave Sulin
Rockport, Maine
"Mind your helm"

PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:27 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 315
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Captain Dave and Fellow Sharpshooters.

Yes, I am very familiar with Wm. Kent's letter and its appearance in CWTI. The reason for my long delay in responding is that another W.C. Kent letter appeared in another magazine a few years later. What is fascinating is that Kent is writing to his brother, Evarts on the eve of May 4, 1894--on the 30 year anniversary of the battle of the Wilderness. Kent writes that while his old enthusiasm for taking to the field of battle again, his age and experience has caused him to 'cool'.

There is a mention in Gordon Rhea's book on the Wilderness in the references section (Wm. C. Kent 5-4-94 in CW Miscellaneous Collection-USMHI), so the letter is out there. I didn't have any luck using the search engine at that site.

Last night I finally located Kent's Wilderness reminiscence. I have transcribed his letter and Brian White is going to help me update it. Hope to post it here soon.

Good hunting.

Bill Skillman

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