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LT: March 9, 1865 Luther Rice Mills (26th Virginia)

Luther Rice Mills to John Mills

Trenches Near Crater

March 9th. [1865]


Your letter of the 2nd was received yesterday morning and as my letter might have made a false impression on you about the evacuation of Petersburg I will answer your last immediately. I am perfectly satisfied that Gen’l Lee has determined to hold Petersburg & Richmond “at all hazards.” If Sherman gets Charlotte & Greensboro Lee will probably send a large force to Johnston but even then Grant will have to “knock him out of Petersburg” if he ever gets him out. Pickett’s Division has been relieved by Mahone’s and is now in reserve. I guess it will have to “whip the next fight.” Gen’l Lee has always given that Division more praise according to the amount of fighting it has done than any other in the A[rmy]. [of] N[orthern]. V[irginia]. It carries from ten to eleven thousand muskets. We feel tolerably secure as far as regards the summer Campaign. I guess we will not be required to do more than hold our own during the spring and summer. Ulysses [S. Grant] has something in his head. I would not be surprised to hear of a movement on north side of James River. He has moved out all his mortars and a large quantity of Artillery from our front. We can not provoke a single mortar from Fort Hill. Can rarely get a rifle shot. His mortars can only be used at short range and hence would do no good on the right. Fort Harrison may be the point from which the attack will be made. Had another flood last night. I[t] seems as if the dreadful days of Deucalion & Pyrrha will return again. Was all right this time, did not get wet. In fact I am doing remarkably. I tried to get Prof. Wingate & T. H. P. in here to see the monkey but could not. I fear they got demoralized in their contest with the sliding elders and determined to beat a safe retreat home. Old Vance might adopt the cry of the 8th Ward of Baltimore when it was attacked by the Know Nothings, “Turn out here  8th Ward, all ye men, women & children, the 8th Ward is attacked and Paddy Murphy lies kilt upon the sidewalk.”  It is probable that Sherman will attempt to take Raleigh If he succeeds Holden1 will be in his “glory.” Can’t some one over there “screw his courage up to the sticking point” and make him a present of an ounce of lead. I am in “secret session” debating whether I shall send in an application for a furlough—probabilities of success &c. Negro bill has been indefinitely postponed.2 Liuets of the “bloody 26th” “are a ———–“ (undecipherable). Three out for Legislature. One has sent in application for furlough to get married. One was married last Jan’y & Yankees caught him next night & carried him away prisoner. I send enclosed two extracts from Petersburg Express. Waterloo or Austerlitz & the Petersburg Mine. Both interesting & useful.

Always state the Reg’t if known, in directing letters to a soldier. It will go sooner.

Yours truly

L[uther]. R[ice]. Mills3,4


  1. Article footnote states: “W. W. Holden was the Military Governor of North Carolina.”
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: This bill was to potentially make soldiers out of free Blacks and slaves in the Confederacy, the subject of much controversy in the Confederacy during the dying days of the war.
  3. 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): 308-9). Print.
  4. 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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