Editor’s Note: Samuel K. Miller of the 211th Pennsylvania wrote 46 letters home during his time in the Union army, almost all of it spent at the Siege of Petersburg in the Ninth Corps. Miller’s great-grandson Myron M. Miller recently edited these letters in his book The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Check out the review here. Mr. Miller was kind and generous enough to offer the Siege of Petersburg Online the use of these letters for the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Siege of Petersburg. A selection of Samuel’s letters will appear here at the Siege of Petersburg Online 150 years after the date they were written. These letters are the private property of Myron Miller and are used here with his express written consent. All rights reserved.
September 9, 1864 Camp Reynolds [Pennsylvania] #1
Most Affectionate companion & children,
Last night at 5 o’clock we were marched from the railroad which runs about 40 rods from this place. We arrived at Pittsburgh on the evening of the 5th about 9 o’clock at night, where we was put into a hog pen to put in the night. It was one of the filthiest places I ever saw in all my travels. There was great dissatisfaction amongst the boys but what could we do? There we were with a guard over us. But where we are now is the loveliest place you ever saw. The camp lays upon a high hill on the East side of the Monongahala River eleven miles above Pittsburgh.
We left Meadville on Monday at 10 A.M. for Ravenna, Ohio. There we changed cars for Wellsville and Pittsburgh, thence to our present destination. Our captain has not come yet but expect him today. There are about 5,000 boys here with their blues on. There are about 800 tents up. The soldier boys are most all married men, some 50 & 55 years old. But the majority are middle-aged men that have done as I have done—left their homes, some with wives only, and the rest with wives and from one to four or five little ones that are dear to them as mine is to me.
I am in good spirits and am not sorry that I have volunteered for my country. I am well, and have many merry times. Last night I heard praying and swearing, dancing and fiddling and singing. As for my part, I did neither. I bought myself a Testament to instruct myself when a soldier boy.
Selkirk Wade is in our company. Him and John Koury and Frank Hutchings and myself will tent together. We cannot tell how long we will be here, probably two weeks. Our company is not organized yet, therefore I cannot tell you where to or what company or regiment to direct.
Silence, I hope you are reconciled by this time. Keep in good spirits and try and get along the best you can until I return again, which I will certainly do. Don’t starve yourself and children and go respectable in society. Your money lays at your command. Use what you want. I did not see Plum Hagen, but get it and use it for debts, etc. Give my respects to all that may inquire for me, especially my sister that I am sorry that she has treated me the way that she has. Silence; remember me in your prayers. Be kind to Myron and Milo. Myron, be a good boy and eat all the melons you can. Some day I will send you something pretty.
Goodbye for the present. I shall write again just as soon as our company is organized. That may be done today. No more from your affectionate husband.
Please do not show this to any one.
Samuel K. Miller1
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 128-129 ↩