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LT: December 25, 1864 John A. Mayers (99th Pennsylvania)


Happy New Year to You All

Camp 99th Reg[imen]t. Penn[sylvani]a Vet[eran]. Vol[enteer]s
Left of Petersburg Va
December 25th 1864

Dear Sister [Rose],


John A. Mayers, the author of this touching Christmas letter home. (Courtesy of Rachael Parker. Used with permission. Do not reproduce.)

As I have nothing to occupy my mind, I sit down to write you a few lines to let you know how I have spent the Christmas today. This morning Jacob1 and his chum came over to see me, and spent the Christmas with me. We had some whiskey and we made some hot punch of it. I cooked some dinner for them which consisted of coffee, bread and butter fried beef steak, and fried potatoes, which composed the entire meal, although we enjoyed it as much as anybody else would turkey and other fancy stuffs. We had a talk over old times and our adventures and escapes and one thing with another. Jacob started home again about five o clock this evening, with the promise of seeing me again in the course of a few days. I was over seeing him a few days ago and staid [stayed] with him all night returning next morning. I hope you enjoyed a happy Christmas at home, and I do sincerely wish you may also enjoy a very happy New Year.

Image of Georgie and Julia, the younger siblings of John A. Mayer.

Georgie and Julia Mayer , younger siblings of John. (Courtesy of Rachael Parker. Used with permission. Do not reproduce.)

Dear Rosy I want you to give me an account of the time you had on Christmas at home, and how Georgie and Julia2 got along and how your Christmas tree looked if you had one. I am very sorry I haven’t some kind of gift to send you but I sincerely hope, the next Christmas, if we live, will be a happy one, and that we may all be seated at home around a great big turkey gobbler.3

Dear Rosy our Lieutenant is soon going home on a furlough and he will stop at the house if he comes home, he says he will make up a big box himself and send it to me, he will know what to send. Him and me, are living together in one house, and mess together. As soon as he returns from home he will try and get me a furlough also, then I hope I will have the pleasure of meeting you all safe and well.

Dear Rosy I have never received them photographs which Peter Thompson sent, nor any of his letters. I should very much like to see one of his photographs. If you have two I wish you would be so kind as to send me one of them. I can return it to you again if you wish. Enclosed you will find a photograph of a young lady, I want you to put it in one of Jacobs albums. He told me to send it and tell you to put it in an album.

Dear Rosy let me know if you received the last two letters I sent, in which I wanted you to send me a pair of good gloves. As I haven’t got any, do not delay in sending them as soon as possible, and also a handkerchief, which I stand greatly in need of. Last Friday [December 23, 1864] we had a deserter shot in our division, he deserted to the Johns and was caught while deserting.4 I suppose you have herd the good news from Sherman’s Army and from Thomas they are doing things up well down south, I think this war will not last much longer, at least the fighting will not last much longer.5 I think I have said about all I know at present, so I will bring this letter to a close, by giving my love to father and mother, Georgie and Julia, and a good share to yourself.

From your loving son & brother

John A Mayers6,7


Jacob sends his love to you all!

Enclosed you will find a song about me and Jacob

Happy New Year to you all you all [sic]


Images of the Letter

First page of John Mayers' December 25, 1864 letter home from the Siege of Petersburg. Second page of John Mayers' December 25, 1864 letter home from the Siege of Petersburg. Third page of John Mayers' December 25, 1864 letter home from the Siege of Petersburg. Fourth page of John Mayers' December 25, 1864 letter home from the Siege of Petersburg. Fifth page of John Mayers' December 25, 1864 letter home from the Siege of Petersburg.


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Jacob was John’s brother in the 23rd Pennsylvania.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Georgie and Julia were the two  younger siblings or Rose, John, and Jacob. They are pictured in an image on this page.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: Sadly, John would not live to see another Christmas.  This is one of the last surviving letter he ever penned.  He was killed at the Battle of Sailor’s Creek on April 6, 1865, just three days before Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House. Thanks to Rachael Parker for setting me straight on the fact that John did pen a few more letters to his family between this one and his death in April 1865.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: Here is one of those tantalizing threads which can be pulled on or left alone.  I’ve chosen to leave this one alone for now.  If you can identify which deserter was shot on December 23, 1864 in the First Brigade, Third Division, II Corps, Army of the Potomac  and any details about this event, please CONTACT US. UPDATE!: Will Greene, long time NPS historian and ranger author of the FANTASTIC ongoing Petersburg trilogy A Campaign of Giants, gave me the likely answer to my question here.  He writes: “You asked about the execution of a deserter on December 23. This was most likely John C. Dixon, a Canadian from the 1st Mass Heavy Artillery. There is a good description of the execution on p. 230 of The Rebel Yell and Yankee Hurrah. Waters Braman of Mott’s staff superintended the execution.”
  5. SOPO Editor’s Note: By this date Sherman had captured Savannah, Georgia.  George Thomas and his army had destroyed Hood’s Army of Tennessee at the Battle of Nashville earlier in December 1864.
  6. Mayers, John A. “Happy New Year to You All.” Received by Dear Sister (Rose Mayer), “Left of Petersburg Va”, 25 Dec. 1864, Petersburg, VA.
  7. From the collection of Rachael Parker. Do not replicate without express written consent. Inquire at 15parkerr@gmail.com.
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