February 11, 1865 Headquarters 9th Army Corps [Virginia] #28
Silence, my dear,
This evening I received your letters of the 3rd and 5th which found me in good health and was much pleased to hear that you were all well. I did intend not to answer this until tomorrow, but Colonel Pierce came home this, or rather back from home on furlough. Coming from the station he observed several bad bridges, which he ordered repaired tomorrow. Therefore we have got to work whenever the order is given, although he is not a man that wants his men to work on the Sabbath Day. But the road is almost impassible for teams where there are hundreds of them have to cross every day, etc.
I wrote to you day before yesterday. I also stated in my last letter that there was a great battle upon our left. Our regiment was called out but was not in the fight. The 5th and 6th Corps done all the fighting, and whipped the Jonnies very bad. We advanced our line two miles and lengthened it six miles and built breastworks sufficiently strong enough to hold them at bay. The Rebs charged the 5th and 6th three times but were repulsed each time with a heavy loss. Our loss in killed was about 200 and wounded was about double the number of killed.1 Lyman Kilgrove was in the battle, I think. He either belongs to 5th or the 6th Corps, I cannot say which. Also, Jim Davidson, William Trimble, William McMaster, William McQuiston, Robert Bowden, Wallace Brown, but I think they all escaped unhurt, or at least I did not see any of their names on the list of wounded. The Rebs seemed to be down on peace nowadays. They cry—fight it out—or independence to the last. I think Grant will give them all they want by the time the roads get settled in the spring, if not before.
Tell Aunt Carry I have [not] seen Jim since last fall. Therefore cannot tell her anything concerning him in regard to drinking or gambling, but I should say that he does not look like a man that made use of strong drink and gambling. I know nothing about it, but you can tell her the army has not been payed off since the first of September last, and if he does gamble and drink, he has not spent more than 3 months pay. I think I shan’t ask you to [go to] the bother of sending me any more apple butter, etc. They cost not much, I know, but the trouble in getting them to railroad is more than I can ask of you to do. I think you have done more now in sending me one thing and another than I can ever pay you for. We cannot tell how long we may remain here. We are liable to move from here at any moment or any hour. I think I can live on Jack beans and pork a few months more very well. I thank you very much for what you have done.
I also think that you had not better take any boarders. I will give you my reasons for why. Not that I fear it would raise a talk, or anything of that kind, but I don’t think it would pay, for everything is high, and too much trouble for a woman in seeing to get provisions and etc. Furthermore, we are not prepared with bedding, etc. Tell Abner for him to board them. He may need a little money to buy his wife a cloak. Silence, if you hear of a chance to bargain with some of the old women in the country for goose feathers, do it. Tell them to have them ready for you by fall coming. I think, then, feathers will [be] cheap.
If the boys will give you the wood for hauling, I think the best thing you can do is to hire someone. If you have, pay them the money. Get it done. I think Ralston would be a good hand if you can hire him. Then get someone a day or two to haul. I want you to work the machine yourself and make yourself comfortable as you can and I will not find any fault whatever. Do just as you think best and I will be satisfied—without asking me. I know you will do for the best all the time.
Good morning, Myron, how do you do? I hardly expected to see you in Dixie. How do you like Virginia among the Jonnies? Yes, I shall take good care of you. Your pretty picture has not come yet, but look for it every day and just as soon as it comes to me, I shall send it to you. I just gave you a sweet kiss. Be a nice boy and kind to Mother, and God will love you for he loves little children. He loves everybody, even to the black man.
Silence, it is getting late. I have written almost all that is of any importance and sincerely hoping you all well. God be within you and family. Silence I cannot help but saying something to you about the goodness of our Savior. I feel so. I cannot saying something about . You always have my best. Warmest wishes for your welfare in my absence. Peace be with you. May the guardian angels hover around your pillow in your sleeping hours. Good night, write often. My love forever,
- SOPO EDitor’s Note: As Miller received more information about the Battle of Hatcher’s Run, fought February 5-7, 1865, his description of it became more accurate than the one in his letter of February 9, 1865. He omits the role of the Second Corps on February 5, and gives the Sixth Corps too much credit. He also underestimates the Union casualties, but he is fairly accurate given the circumstances. ↩
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 181-183 ↩
- 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. ↩