Mills, of the 26th Virginia, had finally returned to the front at the Siege of Petersburg in November 1864 after being wounded at the Crater on July 30, 1864. Much had changed in his absence.
Luther Rice Mills to John Mills
Trenches near “Crater”
Nov 16th 1864
Your last letter was received a short time before I left home. I was thinking so much about coming down here that I concluded I would not answer it until I got here. So you need not look for me at Oxford tomorrow. I got to Petersburg the night of the 14th—went to wagon-yard and slept upon a pile of spiders, skillets and pots. No pleasant change from a good bed. Next morning my head felt as tight as a drum and my shoulder was quite sore. I am now stationed near where I was shot perhaps within a hundred yards. Everything has changed so much that I do not think that I would have recognized the old place. Two new lines have been thrown up in rear of the old “Crater.” One of these lines extend out toward the right, some say to the extreme right. This line is situated upon a ridge in our rear and has any number of heavy batteries in it. Instead of an abattis we have a line of Cheveaux de Frise. In fact everything seems to be much better than when I left. Fewer men are killed, men fare better, and as far as I am able to learn Grant was much nearer taking Petersburg last summer than he is now. We are making out tolerably well. It is quite cold and wood is very scarce. Blankets and overcoats are scarcer—some men have neither. The men are veterans “worn but not subdued.” I suppose desertion among our men is not frequent. A good number of the enemy come over every night. One came over last night: the boys began to ask him if he wanted to sell his overcoat or blanket, but he could say nothing except “Lincoln is elected.” The most of them are foreigners and can not speak English. I have not been able to see Baldy Williams yet. I hope I will get a chance to go in a few days. My kindest regards to Sister Bettie & Marsh. Write soon.
- Mills, Luther R., and George D. Harmon (ed). “Letters of Luther Rice Mills—A Confederate Soldier.” The North Carolina Historical Review (4.3). (July 1927): 302-3). Print. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Luther Rice Mills apparently belonged to the sharpshooter battalion of Wise’s Brigade until he was wounded at the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864. When he returned in November 1864, he took over as the acting captain of his company, Company K, in the 26th Virginia, Wise’s Brigade. The previous captain, Captain Poindexter, had been killed at the Crater. These letters of Mills to his brother John written during the Siege of Petersburg were originally published in The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume 4, Number 3 (July 1927), pages 301-310. ↩
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