Editor’s Note: John Bryden, Jr. of the 57th (and later 61st) New York wrote a series of letters from the Siege of Petersburg in 1864/65 to his wife Sarah at home. These letters were placed online in 2009 as a part of the web site My Dearest Sarah, a collection of the letters of John Bryden to his wife prior to and during the Civil War. Bryden’s descendants John (father) and Heather (daughter) Bryden made the appearance of these letters at The Siege of Petersburg Online possible, and I thank them greatly for their cooperation. The transcription of the letter which appears on this page is copyrighted by Heather Bryden as a part of her web site and may not be reproduced without her express written consent. All rights reserved.
April 29, 18651
Written in ink on 8.5” x 10” ruled landscape paper with the watermark of a colonial-style profile (possibly George Washington) in the top, inside corner.
Burke Station, [Virginia]
April 29, 1865
My Dear Wife:
I answered your letter the other day, the only one that I have got since being on the march. Sarah I stated in my last that we were about to move, but the order has been countermanded. We are still here doing nothing.
It seems very strange to us now after being so long contending with the enemy so long; we hardly appreciate it that this is so. But it is what I have seen; I know to be so. Sarah there has been a great down cast in the army among the soldiers on account of Poor Old Abe; I for one I will assure you.
We will get mustered for 2 more months pay tomorrow. They will then owe us 4. Then as soon as I get paid I will send you the money. I would [have] sent you some before this, if I had only known you had wanted money so bad as I had 20 dollars. I let 2 of our boys have it. Now I think you might as well have had it. You had not ought to run yourself so short of money. Let the payments go. Take care of yourself. You have only one life to live and I say live it.
There is no talk of discharging any of the army that I can hear of. As for my part, I don’t care if they never do. I am contented here. We have got a good camp but we are kept on short rations. It makes a good many of our boys grumble at it. But I can get along and live where some would die.
I do not know of anything more at this time but I only hope you will write to me. If you do not hear from me, you may set it down for good that I cannot get a chance to do it. You are situated different from me, so I hope you will consider the thing over.
No more this time. My love to you and the children and Dinah and husband Mark and Harriet. Tell her I have not forgot her kindness to me. Mr. and Mrs. Baker, Mr. and Mrs. Edwards, and all inquiring friends from your husband,
John Bryden, Jr.
P.S. Write soon.
- My Dearest Sarah. 2009. 15 May 2012 <http://www.bloodandsawdust.com/dearestsarah/My_Dearest_Sarah/Welcome.html>. This letter is used with the permission of My Dearest Sarah’s owner/editor, Heather Bryden, and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the owner. All rights reserved. ↩