February 19, 1865 Headquarters 9th Army Corps [Virginia] #29
I received your letter this morning of the 9th, which met a kind receptance. I was also very glad to hear from you all, and more than pleased, yes, happy to hear of your good health which is a great blessing. How slightly we do appreciate it, nor do we scarcely thank our Heavenly Father for those blessings which is constantly given to us poor wicked sinners. Lord, convert my soul, is my daily prayer. I hope my prayers may be answered. I am not in the least discouraged. Yet. My health is good. Thank God for it.
My dear companion, pray fervently for me. I hope the time is not far hence when we shall enjoy the privilege of being together again, to spend our days in serving our Redeemer. May God grant it I think from what we can learn in the newspapers peace is at no great distance off. South Carolina talks strong of coming back into the Union. Since the peace commissioners accomplished nothing in restoring peace to our land, desertions is more rapid than ever known before. Yesterday 20 Rebs came to our lines with there arms and equipments, perfectly resistless, and said they thought it useless to fight, for they were a whipped nation. I saw five pass when to work on a bridge. We asked them whether they had any late news from General Sherman. Yes, they said. They heard that he had captured Columbia and they got scared and thought it best to come to us.
Desertion is a common occurance nowadays. I still think by the first of May or probably in April will see peace. I say “amen” to it.
Silence, I want you to ask someone who knows as whether there is an Adams Express Office at Meadville. But I think that there is, but I am not sure, but you find out and let me know in your next letter. You wanted to know whether I wanted some more things sent in a box. I think it will hardly pay so late in the winter. There is no telling how long our corps may stay here, and all the boxes that are sent to soldiers are opened and a great many things in the boxes are eaten by the poor swell head officers. I will tell you why they are opened. There is any amount of whiskey smuggled through to the soldiers of the army. There have been boxes come to our Pioneer Corps since I am in it, that had whiskey put into fruit cans and soldered up, so I think you need not send me any. Save them until I get home and I will help you eat them. If you have a mind you may send me a pair of socks by mail—and tell Mr. Buck not to charge too much postage as he did on the hat and gloves. He should not have charged more than 13 cents but I do not care. They suit me first rate and just the fit.
We worked 7 days last week and today is the Sabbath. We had our horses all saddled and mounted to go to work and livery hitched, when Colonel Pierce told us we [would] not work today, so we put our [horses] into the stable again and took our axes and chopped pieces of wood for the old barn, took us probably an hour. So we shaved, we shed and changed shirts, and pants. What a happy day this was. The sun shown warm and bright. The birds were singing their merry glee and almost seemed to say—I wish this cruel war over. Our pickets were silent. Without a shot. Also the canons. The wagon trains were all still and the soldiers were making visits. While I am writing this evening I have not heard a shot. It has seemed more like Sunday today than any other since I am in the army. My mess mates are to bed asleep. Our regiment has moved its quarters farther on our left. I have about 3 miles to go now to see them. I was up to see them this evening before they moved. That memorial had not come. I had some notion to ride up today to see whether it had come. I thought I would wait until next Sunday.
Do you ever hear from Alfreda? I wrote them a letter some weeks ago. They never answered it. I wish you would tell them I shan’t write very soon again if they don’t answer it. Write when you can and I will do the same. I wrote to you a few days ago. I wanted to know about [where] the Express Office at Meadville was. When we got paid off I intended to express to Meadville. I will have over one hundred dollars coming to me. I received a letter from Tilt [Cyrus Stilton Ellis, Silence’s brother]. I also answered it. Let me know in your next letter whether they struck any oil in the McQuiston well. I dreamed of being home the other night. They told me next morning that I said in my sleep to Myron—go and bring Pap kindling from the wood house.
I must close and go to bed. Good night, from well wisher. Write soon.
- Miller, Myron M. The Soul of a Soldier: The True Story of a Mounted Pioneer in the Civil War. Xlibris Corporation(2011), pp. 183-185 ↩
- 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. ↩