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.
June 26, 18641
Written in pencil on a half sheet of landscape-ruled 8” x 10” paper. Watermark present, but illegible.
In the Breastworks near Petersburg
June 26th, 1864
My Dear Wife:
Your letter I received a few days ago and was very happy to hear from you and that you and all the children were well. I am not so very well at present, but I hope I will get better soon. Hoping these few lines will find you well and family.
I got a letter from my father the other day. I answered it. It was posted at Albany. I see by it he is going on to New York to see Mary and thence to Milwaukee to see brother[s] William and James. I guess he has finally come to the conclusion that I would not come under. No sir.
Sarah we are fighting night and day here. We have got Petersburg under our thumb. Any minute we have a mind to blow it up. But we do not want to do that; it is too valuable a place. We can see all the town very plain.
Sarah there is no use of me telling you anything because you can see more by the papers than I can tell you. If I was to make a detail of all that we have come through this summer it would take a book as big as a safe to hold it all. It is [illegible] but down here it is 22 miles south of Richmond it has not rained any since we have been down here. It is very unhealthy.
We took a good deal of the rebel works here. I have been spared so far on the charges where our Corps made. There were hundreds fell at my feet and I was left alone. There is only 280 men left in our Brigade now after the charge. We had 4 men in our Regiment killed with one shell and 2 wounded. We have got about 30 men [fit] for duty now.
No more [at] this time. My love to you and the children and all inquiring friends from your affectionate husband,
Please to write soon and give me all the news.
- 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. ↩