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20th Regiment,
Wisconsin Volunteers
Company "K"

Fort Morgan Sept. 11, ‘64

Co. K 20th Reg. Wis. Vo.

Dear Brother:--

I take the present opportunity of writing to you. I enjoy good health. I hope you and the rest of the family are well.

We arrived here at Mobile Bay the 7th of August. We did not get into the bay that day the shells from the fort drove us back. We anchored until the next day, then we got aboard the gunboats and ran by the fort; when we got landed we had the fort completely surrounded. The naval and land forces combined. We landed and then put out our picket gang. We soon drove the rebel pickets into the fort. We then commenced to dig our rifle pits for sharpshooting. We worked at night and then in daylight we could dig our ditches deeper by keeping low behind the embankment we had thrown out the night before. If a man showed his head above the bank he might expect a rebel bullet. From our portholes that is a small hole made through the embankment thrown out of the pit or a bag of sand laid on the top of the bank of sand and a hole under that the bag of sand will save the head of the sharp shooter from the enemy’s bullets.

Well, we advanced on them in this manner. Sometimes they threw grape and canister, then solid shot and shell, but still the Yanks moved on toward the fort until the siege guns and mortars were all planted, ready for great bombardment. The night before it commenced in earnest there was a company of us crept up and dug a pit so close to their guns that it was almost impossible for them to man the place. Our sharp shooters picked off the gunners whenever they showed themselves on our side of the fort. The night before they surrendered was bright. The city hall had taken fire from the bursting of one of the mortar shells, kept falling into the fort from our guns. I counted at one time passing over my pit to the fort, six mortar shells in the air at one time one following close after the other. Still the thunder of cannon could be heard from other parts of the command, as heavy as where I was.

The morning they surrendered they looked out at the first peep of day to find several of our cannons planted within one hundred yard of the weakest part of the fort. Twenty-four hours more and there would not have been one left in the fort to sing the song of rebeldom so they stuck up the white flag and all firing ceased. Then the soldiers walked within speaking distance of each other and talked over the fight. One tall, good looking Tennessee rebel stepped out and looked at us. “Well,” he said, “you Yanks beat the devil to dig.”

Give my love to pap and all the rest. Write soon.

(signed) James M. Gallaher

Sent to his brother William Gallaher

(Letter contributed by Karen Conroy. If you have any further information on this family,
please contact Karen direct.)

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