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.
October 27, 1864 Bermuda Hundred [Virginia] #10
My dear wife,
I received your letter dated the 18th of this month and was also very much pleased to hear from you again. I just sent you a letter a few days before receiving yours. I also received one from Abner in the same mail. Oh, but I was glad to hear that you were well, also the little ones. I am very well indeed. I have not had the headache since I came to Virginia—
Silence, I want you to go to town and buy a box of Wrights Indian Vegetable pills and send them to me by mail. Just as soon as you receive this. We have a great deal of sickness in our regiment. There are about 25 in our company that [have] the fever and ague [chills and sweating]. Mr. Blanchard is getting well fast, he is, so he can walk around the camp and do light work etc. Frank Hutchins is on the turn for the better with good care, and that he has, for he has a woman for a nurse. He is in the Sanitary Commission hospital. Silence, if you every have an opportunity of giving anything to the Sanitary [Commission] I want you to do so, for I think it is one of the finest institutions that is in our army for the poor sick and wounded soldiers.
You wanted to know if we had anything to do on Sunday. Yes, every Sunday morning we have our streets to police, that is, to clean them—then we [have] a dress parade, then a company inspection, etc. and then go to church if you choose. I heard through John Henry that Kez [Keziah, Silence’s sister] was married to someone from Maine. Abner wants to borrow fifty dollars from me until spring. I think Ab is a pretty fine fellow and guess you may let him have it. Make him give his note and get all the interest you can.
I am now on the detail duty chopping timber for hospitals, so if there is any fighting to be done I shan’t be into it. We are about six miles from camp. I think it will take about three weeks. The work is very easy.
There is one of the hottest battles commenced that has been since the war commenced. Yesterday about 11 o’clock they began fighting, continued until 1 this morning. We have not heard whether our boys were victorious or not but the sound of the cannon went almost out of hearing.[SOPO Editor’s Note: Miller may be talking about a bombardment along the lines, or possibly the Battle of Fair Oaks and Darbytown Road. The dates don’t seem to line up at first glance. If he was writing on October 27, 1864, “yesterday” at 11 o’clock was probably the night of October 26. More research is needed.] Oh, what a terrible war this is. May God bring it to a speedy close that we may all return home.
Silence, I cannot write much this time for there is so much confusion, that I shall come to a close hoping you and family are enjoying good health and I pray that God may take care of you and the children. Do not forget me in your prayers. I have considerable but will write more in my next—. Write often and I will do the same. I am well and in fine spirits and I want you to keep in good spirits. I hope this may find you in good health. Good morning, I must go and get my breakfast and go to work. Excuse my short letter. Goodbye.
From your husband,
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. 143-144 ↩