Luther Rice Mills to John Mills
Petersburg June 12th 1864
Your letter was received several days ago. I would have been glad to have been able to answer it before now, for I fear that the report that “Wise’s Brigade drove off Grants’ [sic] raiding part[y]” may have reached you and cause[d] you some anxiety but we have been so busy about one thing and another that I could not write. One regiment—the 46th Va. of Wise’s Brigade was in Petersburg but strange to say was not engaged in the fight.1 The other Regiments were at Ware Bottom Church. A great many people—many editors included—thought because Wise’s Brigade remained around Richmond so long that it would never do any fighting, that it was composed of a parcel of renegade Virginians and cowards. The editors &c. have been very much surprised at our actions since we have been in Virginia and now to do us justice they say we are in fights when we are not. Evans’ S. C. Brigade commanded now by Brig. Gen. Elliott of old Fort Sumter notoriety says that Brigade has done all the fighting and Wise’s got the credit. Our loss stands as follows W[ounded]. 350 K[illed]. 214. Loss is the best criterion that I have ever found to test fighting in open fields. I was very sorry to hear of the death of Tom Williams. What regiment & Brigade did he belong to? Where was he killed? I wish that you had stated that. Where are Baldy, Sam & John. I would like very much to know about them.
We left Ware Bottom Church yesterday evening [June 11, 1864] and came about twelve miles. It was a short march but quite fatiguing. The men are more reduced and weaker than I have ever seen them. It is four weeks today since we went into Chesterfield Co[unty]. and I do not think the men have averaged sleeping more than one half the nights while we were over there, besides working with spades, picks & axes during day and night. Grant has been badly whipped by Gen. Lee and is now fortifying and recruiting his army. Raids will be abundant till he is ready to move. I think he will endeavor to cut our railroads so that there will be as little provisions in Richmond as possible when he commences again.
I fear some of his raiding parties will reach Halifax & Danville. Our Cavalry is sadly deficient. Horses do not get enough long forage. Butler is luxuriating about Bermuda Hundred surrounded by one thousand odoriferous buck negroes.
We will probably go to work today on fortifications. We are about three miles from Petersburg on the City Point road Battery No. 7. I would like very much to be sent to Weldon to get some fish and vegetables. While in Chesterfield we paid one dollar (new issue or its equivalent) for one onion. We ate all the weeds such a[s] polk, lambs quarter, pusly [sic, parsley?] &c that we could find in Chesterfield. We got a plenty of musty corn meal & ship pork imported from Nassuco [sic, Nassau?]. All our bread is baked beforehand by cooks detailed from companies. I would be very glad to see you but would not advise you to come to Petersburg. We might have a raid and you might be conscripted. You had better stay at home and work your corn. You can send me a small box of vegetables if convenient, onions, taters, cucumbes &c. some vinegar if possible. If you have any Nash send me a small bottle if you can spare it. Poindexter has had the diarrhea for nearly one month and can get nothing to cure it & the Drs. have nothing but opium. I wish it for him. He is the only officer with the company and he will not leave as long as he can possibly walk. He has acted so bravely that I should be very sorry to see him sent to the Hospital. Send it care Brittain A. Toole.
Write to me soon.
Editor’s Note: Mills was severely wounded at the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864. His next existing letter home would not be written until November 1864.
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Mills is referring to the June 9, 1864 First Battle of Petersburg, or Battle of Old Men and Young Boys. ↩
- Mills, Luther R., and George D. Harmon (ed). “Letters of Luther Rice Mills—A Confederate Soldier.” The North Carolina Historical Review (4.3). (July 1927): 301-2). Print. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Luther Rice Mills apparently belonged to the sharpshooter battalion of Wise’s Brigade until he was wounded at the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864. When he returned in November 1864, he took over as the acting captain of his company, Company K, in the 26th Virginia, Wise’s Brigade. The previous captain, Captain Poindexter, had been killed at the Crater. These letters of Mills to his brother John written during the Siege of Petersburg were originally published in The North Carolina Historical Review, Volume 4, Number 3 (July 1927), pages 301-310. ↩