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LT: November 26, 1864 Luther Rice Mills (26th Virginia)

Luther Rice Mills to John Mills

Trenches Near Crater

Petersburg, Va.

Nov . 26th.


In my short note to you about a week ago I was unable to give you any of the army news &c. for that can only be gathered by observation. We have just passed through a spell of very hard weather. The suffering in the Trenches was much greater than it should have been. Many of the men were entirely destitute of blankets and overcoats and it was really distressing to see them shivering over a little fire made of green pine wood. Duty too is quite heavy. The men have twelve hours of Picket and twelve of Camp Guard every thirty six hours. The effect that one cold wet night has upon the boys is a little remarkable. They are generally for Peace on any terms toward the close of a cold wet night but after the sun is up and they get warm they are in their usual spirits. I have never seen our army so completely whipped. The men do not seem to fear the winter Campaign so much as they do the coming spring. An evidence that our army is whipped is seen in the resolutions of Butler’s Cavalry Brigade (vide late Stanard). I hardly know what to think of our prospect for next spring. Some men desert from our Brigade nearly every day or two, yet I believe there will be a great many more next spring. Our army however is quite large—perhaps as large as it was last spring. The troops are arranged from extreme left to right in the following order. Fields Kershaw North of the James [River]. Picket[t] South of it. Johnson, Mahone, Hooker [sic, Hoke] & Heath [sic, Heth] South of Appomattox. Infantry 3600[0] Cavalry 1000[0] Artillery 8000 Total 54000. There is a rumor in our camp that our Division will go to Georgia. This I think extremely doubtful. One good decisive victory in the [Shenandoah] valley or Georgia would do a great deal towards cheering our men up. We have been supplied within the last few days with shoes and blankets and it is to be hoped that our men will do better. We have to carry some men to hospital for frostbites &c. Some have come in off picket crying from cold like children. In fact I have seen men in the trenches with no shoes at all. I saw Capt. John Williams a few days ago but have not been able to see Baldy yet. We are still near the old mine. I suppose that I am now within fifty yards of the spot where I was wounded. I am doing very well. My shoulder does not worry me much. Wm. M. Houston is our 3rd Lieut. I suppose you are acquainted with him.

Please write soon and give me all the news.

Yours truly.

L[uther]. R[ice]. Mills1,2


  1. 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): 303-4). Print.
  2. 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.
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