This is basically a recruiting letter from a member of the 50th New York Engineers. No one seems to doubt that the Union Army of the Potomac is outnumbered by General Lee’s army. Another reason for the writer’s sense of urgency is that it is still possible that France and England would intervene on the side of the Confederacy.
From a Seneca Falls, New York newspaper in 1862:
From the Fiftieth Regiment
JAMES RIVER, Va., July 9th, 1862.
Since we were forced to retreat and fall back to James River, there has not been much done except to lay out our new camp and grade the streets. Col. Stuart has been sick for a few days, but I think he is getting better. I suppose recruiting is going on with rapidity at the North. It is the duty of every one to interest themselves in this matter, and get the 300,000 men called for by the President. If we are not reinforced within a short time, it is useless to contend against the enemy here. All we can do now is to hold our position; if we can’t do that we must be driven into the river. We had a week of the most desperate fighting that this world has ever witnessed. During the series of engagements the rebels lost thirty thousand men, and our loss cannot be much less. Our Regiment had 46 taken prisoners, but none killed. The weather is extremely hot here, almost unendurable.
I had some hopes at one time that this war would come to an end by the time cold weather set in, but now think it will require another Summer campaign to end it, if France and England do not sooner interfere. If such should really be the case a big row would be the result, and every man in the North would be compelled to take up arms. The best service our friends at home can render, is to push forward the recruiting as fast as possible. The Rebels fight terribly, and we need every man that can be got into the field. Every man counts one. If our people at home were as fully impressed with the magnitude of this war as we are here, it don’t seem possible that they would longer hesitate to furnish the number of troops which the exigency of the case demands. S. J.
The letter writer is probably Samuel Jacoby: