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.
August 30, 18641
Written in ink on white, portrait-ruled 8.5” x 10” rag paper. Round, illegible watermark. The top of the page is printed with the following legend in coldset type.
United States Christian Commission
Individual Relief Department
The United States Christian Commission seeks to afford a sure and effective medium of communication between the wounded or sick soldier—whether in the Camp or in Field or General Hospitals—and his home friends. This is done by furnishing facilities for writing and by writing for those who are not themselves able. Soldiers, for whom special inquiries are made of us, will be sought out if possible and relieved and their condition made known to those asking. All letters of this character should give the Corps, Division, Regiment, and Company of the soldier, as also the Hospital in which he is supposed to be. Address, United States Christian Commission, 500 H Street, Washington, D.C.
Camp near Petersburg
August 30th 1864
My Dear Wife:
Your letter of date August 18th I received August 24th and was very glad to hear from you and that you were all well as it leaves me at present. Hoping these few lines will still find you still the same and the little ones also.
Sarah, you can see by the papers that we have had a hard time of it the last 18 or so days. So you need not blame me for not writing sooner as we have had no time neither night nor day.
We had a great battle at Ream’s Station when we were destroying the Weldon Railroad. The Rebels charged 4 times on our two small Divisions. There was all of [General James] Longstreet’s Corps and 1 or 2 Divisions of [General Cadmus M.] Wilcox’s against our two little ones. They lost very heavy. Our losses is few in killed and wounded; a good many taken prisoners, taken on our side. The Johnnys left their dead and wounded on the field, but they drove our boys out of their breastworks.
I do not know of any more news now. So you need not wait for me to write, as I write when I can get a chance. But I think you can get more time to write a letter oftener than you do.
We have not got paid yet. They owe us 6 months pay. So you can guess that I am out of money, that is sure. You can send me some if you like. You can please yourself in regard to that.
My love to the little ones and all inquiring friends, and accept the most of it yourself from your,
John Bryden, Jr.
P.S. Write soon. Don’t wait for an answer to your letter from me as it is very uncertain when I can get a chance.
John Bryden, Jr.
- 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. ↩