February 9, 1865 Headquarters 9th Army Corps [Virginia] #27
Dear wife and children,
This is Thursday morning [February 9, 1865] about one o’clock. I am upon Guard the after part of the night and a beautiful morning it is too. The moon shines bright as day. I have not had a letter from you since the one written January 25th. I answered it immediately and would have wrote since then but expected one, but have been sadly disappointed every night’s mail. So I could not stand it any longer. I presume tonight I will receive one, but if I do I shall answer it right off.
There has been a great battle in progress upon our left. The Rebs made a move in that direction with the intention of breaking our lines, but was severely whipped by the fifth Corps which took the South Side railroad, but were repulsed, but our boys rallying again and retook the Road and are holding and fortifying it. I have not heard our loss or the Rebs, but I will let you know in my next letter. My regiment is out, but was not engaged in the battle. There were 70,000 men there but only one corps engaged, which is about 30,000. The Rebs said to our boys when they got there—Yanks, you will get what you come for—but I think it was the reverse. They got what they didn’t want, a good whipping. The intention of Grant is to take the Danville Road, then the Rebs will have to evacuate Petersburgh. Them were the only two roads they had to get their supplies on for their army. I think if they get several good thrashings they will come to terms of peace.1
The weather here at present is cold and wet, or has been for several days past, but has cleared off. Pleasant again. We still remain where we was, but we did not know how soon we might get marching orders to fall back behind the breastworks of City Point. There is always the place our wagon trains and the Mounted Pioneer goes until after the battles. This fight about which I have spoken was about 12 miles to our left, or in other words, due South.
I still keep well and hearty. Not much to do. I hope you are all well. I almost fear that some of you are sick, the reason that I have not had a letter, but I trust and pray that you are all well.
I am very proud with my hat and gloves you sent me. The hat was a little larger, but I laid some paper under the lining, which makes it just right. I see old Ben had it marked 3.00 dollars. How do you get along about wood this cold weather? Have you plenty, and how does the old remnant get along and feel about the draft? By this time, she may stand a chance to get a new dress this spring. Let me know about whether Findley McQuiston was enrolled in the draft and what the Township intends doing in regards to filling their quota.
This is Thursday evening [February 9, 1865]. I received the long looked for letter this evening, which has relieved my mind of anticipated trouble at home. I feared some of you were sick or something wrong, but as I said above, I am at rest again. I feel happy and more. I will also state that the five dollars was also in the letter. That must last me until we are payed off, which will be the 10th of March, without a doubt. I also hope that by that time the Rebs will come to the conclusion to come back into the Union. I have prophesied all winter this thing will be settled this spring. I feel it within me and I cannot give it up. I was just thinking this morning to myself when I was writing this letter how old remnant was getting along I think from a fool [There are three lines which Samuel wrote are crossed out here] for luck and a poor man for children. It also seems to be Ab’s luck at alavence (?).
You say you received five dollars more of relief money. You say it seems like a gain. I think so myself, and a considerable gain. If I do pay a certain portion by tax, I don’t think I have to pay 50 cents a year toward it. Did not you not say that you lost two months pay in the start? You ought to of had pay for five months, which would make 25 dollars. It does not matter much either way. All I have to say—take all you can get. I think I am entitled to it.
I have not received any letter from Charley’s folks yet. I do no know why they do not answer my letter. Perhaps they never got it. I also wrote Jesse about the same time and have not got an answer yet. Silence, when you are to town and think of it, ask David Russel whether he ever answered my letter. If not, tell him to direct to the Mounted Pioneer Corps. [The reason] I wanted to know was this—our company clerk has opened a great many letters for different ones that was directed to the company, expecting to contain money.
One thing I almost forgot—when you answer this letter tell me how you make codfish gravy. We frequently have them and the only way we can cook them is boil them. Don’t forget to write how you do it. I do not think you want to see me any worse than I do you.
I would give 25 dollars to be home this spring. I dream of home of late but am always disappointed when I wake up. The time is advancing fast when I shall see you all again and enjoy your company and take the place of a Christian father and husband. This is my full determination if God preserves my life, which I hope He will. I am well and hearty and I pray for the preservation of you all. Answer this as soon as possible. I believe I have written all I can think of. Hoping to hear of your good health. My respects to you all.
Yours very truly forever,
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Samuel had heard some fairly tall tales in relating the details of the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, fought Feb. 5-7, 1865. The Union forces initiated the fighting, which occurred just north and south of Hatcher’s Run southeast of Burgess’ Mill. The Army of the Potomac never came close to reaching the South Side Railroad, as Samuel claims. Instead, they had managed to permanently move southwest three more miles, and were busily fortifying new lines all the way to Hatcher’s Run as Samuel wrote this letter. Union forces included the entire Fifth Corps, two divisions of Second Corps, one division each from Sixth and Ninth Corps, and Gregg’s Cavalry Division. The Confederates countered with the infantry divisions of Evans, Pegram, Heth, and Mahone, and the cavalry division of W. H. F. “Rooney” Lee. It was a strategic Union victory, but not to the level Samuel had been told. ↩
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 178-181 ↩
- 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. ↩