December 18, 1864 Army of the Potomac [Virginia] #19
I wrote you a letter a few days ago. Since then on the very next day we received our box. It was just nine days coming through. It also came in first class condition. John B. Henry is not with his company, therefore, he will not enjoy his nicknacks very much. He is sick at the hospital. The roast turkey was spoiled so much that it was not fit to eat. Everything else was very nice indeed. I am so well pleased with mine. You cannot imagine how I feel. Myron, I thank you a thousand times for them chestnuts you sent. Be a good little boy and be kind to Mother and I will bring you something very nice in return.
I have not opened anything, only one can of apple butter and can of tomatoes. The butter is nice but a little strong, but not any to hurt. I loaned half of it to those that are getting boxes from home.1
We are now building our winter quarters. After we move I intend to open the honey and molasses. You spoke in your last letter that you did not think of sending cakes and bread. I am very glad you did not. Perhaps I will get you to send me some after while, but I will let you know when I want them. We generally get all the hardtack and soft bread that we want. Today we are boiling beans and fresh beef for dinner. This morning we had boiled potatoes and codfish, coffee and crackers, butter and sugar. So you see, we do not starve.
A week from today is Christmas. I wish I could be home on that day to help you eat a turkey. All I can do is to wish you a Happy Christmas. Remember that Santa Claus will be around—that Myron has his stockings hung up behind the stove. I presume you have cold weather there now. Last Sunday and Monday and Tuesday [December 11, 12 and 13, 1864] was very cold2 but since then the weather has been warm and pleasant. The roads are dry and nice. You would think it was fall weather.
The war is still going on. The Rebs are deserting daily by hundreds. General Butler has taken the railroad from the Rebs where we first lay at Dutch Canal, which is the last road they had between Richmond and Petersburgh.3 I do not see how they can stand it much longer. The impression of all [is] that the Rebs cannot contend longer than spring. I hope it may be so, for we are all tired of soldiers life, although I am not discouraged nor homesick or nothing of that kind. But it just seems to me as though we all should be home by summer, but I shall be contented with my lot—let it be what it may.
Silence, send me a late Tribune also do up handkerchief in it. Let me know how you get along in regard to wood, whether you made a wood hauling or not. There were 4 more deserters hung a few days ago at City Point. The health of our company is good at present. My health is very good. I am getting fat as a pig. I also hope you are well. Also, do your write to me every Sunday? Write to me often and give me all the news you can think of, and I will do the same. This is Sunday. We had regimental inspection this forenoon. This afternoon I am writing to an absent friend. We had no preaching to for what [reason] I am not able to tell. Last Sabbath we marched all day.4 You cannot hardly tell when Sunday comes.
Mr. Rodgers thinks there are some hard boys in our regiment. I think so myself. Rodgers knows you very well. I presume you know him, don’t you? I believe he is a good man, or a Christian. May God convert my soul. I am resolved to try and try until I experience religion and be on the right side of my Maker. I feel earnest in what I say. I pray the Lord may spare my life to get home to enjoy the happiness with my wife and children the balance of my days. May God be with you and family always. Pray for me. Write soon and give all particulars. From your affectionate husband and well wisher. My love to you my friend. Tell Mother I send my best respects to her. Does Mary Davis still live with you? Let me know whether you have any cold weather or not. No more from your friend forever,
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Samuel probably loaned some apple butter with the expectation that he would get something in return from other soldiers’ boxes. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: This is the same terrible weather which plagued Warren’s column and his Confederate pursuers during the Stony Creek Raid. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Samuel is mistaken. The railroad running between Richmond and Petersburg only fell when Richmond and Petersburg were evacuated and fell on April 3, 1865. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Miller and the 211th Pennsylvania made up part of Potter’s relief force during the Stony Creek Raid. ↩
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 161-163 ↩
- 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. ↩