Description of William Bartlett's Yorktown wounding described in letter from Henry Ropes to his own father on April 25, 1862:

"We have this morning returned from another day of picket duty, and I grive to say that yesterday our Regiment met with the greatest loss it could possibly sustain. Capt. Bartlett was shot in the knee, and has lost his leg. He has been sent to Ship Point, thence to go to Washington....Capt. Bartlett came up in command of the Regiment, Col. Palfrey remaining in camp, and after the different companies had taken their posts, he went to the advanced posts and was crouching down examining the enemy's works with a glass, when a ball, fired from a rifle pit by a Rebel sharpshooter struck his knee and shattered the bones down to the middle of the calf. He was brought upon a strecher, and taken to a small house near our camp, where the Surgeons, after a short consultation, decided on immediate amputation above the knee. He was placed under chloroform, and the amputation was performed by Dr. Hayward.The last accounts were that he was quite comfortable. This of course ends the military career of one of the most promising young men in the army [Web note: Ropes could not have been more wrong]. He occupied a very high place, and would no doubt have won a name in the oncoming campaign. He was the right hand man of the Regiment, and I do not see who could fill his place.....

We go on picket every 3 days. The last time we were on, our Company had the exposed post, and I remember that Capt. Bartlett came up and told me he wished to visit the posts. I went with him and when we were in the most exposed post, where a good view can be got of the enemy's works, I told him of the rifle pit we had discovered, and cautioned him to pass without stopping--from tree to tree--that he might not give the enemy's sharpshooters a mark. We staid some time there, and saw the men in the rifle pit, and the stumps and logs piled round to deceive our men, and while there the Captain told me he hated this picket work, and felt sure he should sometimes be shot while on picket. He said he would much rather meet the enemy in open fight. The very next time we came on picket, he was shot in this very place. I think it a very remarkable coincidence. The whole Regiment feels his loss deeply."

[ms., 20th MA Regimental Collection, Boston Public Library]

 

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