January 15, 1865 Headquarters Army of the Potomac [Virginia] #23
Dear Affectionate Companion,
I received your letter last evening dated 8th. This is Saturday evening [January 14, 1865]. I was very glad to hear from you. Much more so to hear you say that you were all well. As regards myself, my health is very good at present. In the first place I suppose I can prepare myself to answer some questions, which I will do willingly. The first question (in program you wanted to know) is whether there is any church here. I am sorry to say there is none nearer than our regiment. Secondly you wanted to know how far I was from the regiment. It is just about one mile. Thirdly and lastly I get no more wages than I did when in the regiment. I am satisfied with my position, better than if I was getting twenty dollars per month. The work is harder. My souls, what signifies work when a man has a good horse to ride to and from his work. We never go to work until nine o’clock or after and then come in for dinner and then quit before sundown. Then all you have to do—feed your horse, eat your supper, set around your shanty and go to bed when you please.1
My things you sent me all came safe and in good order. I will tell you how John Henry’s things came to be stolen or rather eaten up. A few days before our box came, John was taken to the hospital sick. He gave a mess mate of his by the name of Robert Swartout from Meadville orders that when the box came to take charge of it and eat what he wanted. And so he did, eat everything but three cans of fruit and some butter. The balance he either ate or gave away. So if the Henry’s folks ever say anything to you about it to you, you can tell them that is the way his things were stolen.
Yes, when I send you my money you may have your photograph taken. I shall send to Meadville or Jamestown, but I will let you know where I will send it to. Tell Jason Bard if he wants a letter any plainer directed then I do yours, I will write it in capital letters. I don’t like to lean so much to the right—I always like best to the left. Yes, the moon shines very nice and clear. I almost wish sometimes that I would like to be at home to see it shine against the front side of our house.
I think you need not send me any more things, only one thing—and that is a hat. I want you to go to Mr. Ewing. Tell him to send me oby mail. I don’t want a black one or a red one. Something like my old one I had. I don’t want it cost over a couple of dollars, if you can get one for that.ne I cannot get one here for less than 6 or 7 dollars. Tell him to do it up in paper, send by mail, and I will pay him when I come home. You can tell about the size by my old straw hat. Send it immediately, for I am as black as an Indian with my little blue cap on.
I wrote a letter to Charley this week. I wrote him an awful long letter—give him all the war news I knew, etc. Silence, if my old buckskin gloves are not lost and are whole, put them in my hat and send them, too.
I am sorry you got a calf for a man. I suppose she [this seems to refer to Mag, or Margaret Rudy Ellis, wife of Abner Ellis. Samuel seems to speak not very kindly of her in these letters!] thinks she got a bull for a man, or else she would have so many young ones. I think that is what is to matter with her now. She is mad she will have a calf. If I had not more sense than she has got, I would go and exhibit myself as one of the old John Rudy’s [Margaret Rudy Ellis’s father] griners [steers]. Let her talk. She can’t hurt you or me, for I consider her beneath my notice. She will think I am a calf when I get home. She better not brag. Abner may have to come to war yet before it is finished. Oh, I shan’t waste ink and paper talking about her. She is a poor, silly fool, but I like to have you write about what she says about me.
I was just over to the regiment [the 211th Pennsylvania]. Expected to get a letter from David Russle, but did not get any. I saw all the boys but John Henry. He is at the hospital again. We have not been paid off yet but expect to every day. If we are not paid now, we shan’t be until the first of March. Our said that the 5th Corps will be paid tomorrow. If that should be the case, the whole army will be. When you direct the next letter to me don’t put an “eye” into the word Mounted. It is [a] plain and easy word [to be] spelled. I have not been out much last week to work. I stayed at camp and shaved shingles for the Lieutenant’s cabin. So you see I am somewhat favored by being a mechanic. I am very well and hearty but cannot sleep all night. I am generally up in the morning about 4 o’clock reading my Testament. I have commenced to read it through. I am about halfway through Mark. I hope you are well and the boys too. May God be merciful with you to guard and direct you—is my prayer. Write soon as you can. Give my love to all that inquire about me. No more from your husband. This I have finished today. Myron, be a nice boy and I will remember you when I come home.
Silence, I wish you would send me a few stamps for fear that we will not get our pay. I have money coming to me, but I may not get it soon.
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Miller is talking about his move from the 211th Pennsylvania to the 9th Corps Mounted Pioneers. This small unit performed engineering tasks, but beyond that I know very little about this unit, or even whether there were similar units in other Union army corps. If you have more information on this formation, please use the Contact link at the top of this page. ↩
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 170-172 ↩
- 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. ↩