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.
December 11, 18641
Written in ink on white 8.5” x 10” landscape-ruled paper, folded along the short axis into a 4-page signature. No watermark.
This letter has been heavily color corrected.
Before Petersburg [Virginia]
December 11th 1864
Your letter of December 4th I received two days ago and was very happy to hear from you and to hear you were all well at home as it leaves me at present. I am very glad you have sent me on the box. But I have not got it as yet on account of this move. I am afraid it will be some time before I get it.
I got a letter from my father the other day. I see he is sporting all over. I will send you the letter the next time I write so you may see his advice to his son. You may think by that I am not much. I do not think I will trouble him if ever do I live to yet to get home. But if you will make your letter very substantial concerning that sickness I think it will be alright. Do your best.
We are going to be consolidated with the 61 first Regiment on account of ours being so small. Only 60 men that will be the in the First Brigade. I am very sorry to have it done but it cannot be helped. We have not got so good quarters this winter as we had last nor do I think we will have, for we are always on the move.
There was 3 deserters hung today. It was a terrible sight. But it is just right. They jumped the bounty and just went on picket for the first time and went into the Johnnies’ lines and joined them and fought against us and we took them prisoners and we knew them with Rebel uniform on.
But I thank God it will not be so with [me]. I will run my chance with the rest. Live or die I will never have it to say that I ever left the Colors for to sustain my God and Country what I have swore to.
Now Sarah I have not got much of anything else of any importance to write to you this time. I got a letter from [my brother] Robert the other day. His family is all well. I have got Bob’s to answer and father’s tonight yet, so I must close with my best love to you and the children. Hoping this will find you all well as it leaves me at present. From your ever true and affectionate, with kind regards to all your folks at home.
Write soon my love and give me all the news. My love from,
John Bryden, Jr.
I will not be much good ever when I come home. I will give you the reasons [an]other time when I get time. This is a sickness I know I might have told you [about] some time. But I thought it would not be proper to do so, nor do I think I will ‘til I come home.
[Your sister] Lot need not brag about her young one. I will show her something yet when I come home as I live in hope to see the day yet. I will be just as free as any of them.
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. ↩