Camp 99th Reg[imen]t. P[ennsylvnia].V[eteran].V[olunteers]
Left of Petersburg Va
December 14th 1864
Dear Mother & Sister
I take this pleasant opportunity of writing you a few lines to let you know, that I am alive and well, and hoping these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing. Yesterday [December 13, 1864] we came back from a long march of about 125 miles down to North Carolina, we were six days in marching there and back [December 7-13, 1864], we tore up about twenty five miles of railroad on the Weldon [Rail]road, and captured a train of eight cars, and locomotive, we also captured a great deal of grain and cattle, the guerrillas murdered about twenty five of our men after we marched down.1 Men that struggled on the road, the guerrillas thought we would not come back the same way. So they stripped the dead men, and left them laying in the woods, but when we came back and found the dead men, we was going to be revenged, and burned all the houses down along the road. We took a great deal of guerrillas along the road, we found some crawling up the chimneys and when we set fire to the house they had to come out.2 We are laying in the woods now and putting up quarters for the winter. I hope we stay some time, I was over to see Jacob today their Corp [6th Corps] has come down here – they lay about a mile from me.3 He has a putty nice quarters up, I had dinner with him, beef steak and coffee, I was with him all afternoon and had a good talk over old times and one thing and another, he looks a great deal better than the last time I seen him. He is getting putty stout.
Dear Rose tell mother to try and send me a pair of knit gloves like those aunty made me last winter – it is putty cold out now, and gloves are not at all unwelcome for cold fingers. Let me know how father is coming on now, and what he intends to do. I give Jacob a Sunday school book to send home which I captured on the raid, I want you to take good care of it when you receive it. I wish you would send one good handkerchief as mine is nearly played out. I have nothing more to write at present so I will bring this to a close.
From your affectionate son & brother
Write as soon as possible
Direct John A Mayers
Comp[any] “K” 99th Reg[iment]. P[ennsylvania]. V[eteran]. V[olunteers]
1st Brig[ade]. 3rd Div[ision] 2 Corps
in Washington D.C.
Images of the Letter
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Mayers is describing his regiment’s role in the early December 1864 Stony Creek or Applejack Raid down the Weldon Railroad. In addition to Warren’s Fifth Corps and Gregg’s Cavalry Division, Mayers and the other men of Mott’s Third Division, Second Corps also participated in the raid. They managed to make it as far south as Hicksford, Virginia on the Meherrin River, tearing up rails along the way, before being stopped by militia and Confederate Cavalry. Warren then neatly extricated his force before Confederate infantry could intercept the raiders. For more on the raid, see: Blue & Gray Magazine, Vol. XXII, No. 3 (2005): The Petersburg Campaign: Beefsteak Raid & Applejack Raid. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: There was a sad side effect of the raid. Confederate guerrillas murdered Union soldiers, which outraged their surviving comrades and caused many Confederate civilians to suffer terribly when their houses were burned on what was a bitterly cold day. December 10, 1864 was when the returning Union column discovered their murdered stragglers. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: The Union 6th Corps had briefly been present at the Siege of Petersburg in June-July 1864 before moving to Washington, D. C. and then the Shenandoah Valley. After defeating Early in the 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign, they moved back to the Petersburg lines in early December 1864, shortly before this letter was written. John’s brother Jacob was in the 82nd Pennsylvania, and had been in the 23rd Pennsylvania until that regiment was mustered out in the summer of 1864. ↩
- Mayers, John A. “Camp 99th Regt. P.V.V.” Received by Dear Sister (Rose Mayer), “Camp 99th Regt. P.V.V.”, 14 Dec. 1864, Petersburg, VA. ↩
- From the collection of Rachael Parker. Do not replicate without express written consent. Inquire at email@example.com. ↩