Editor’s Note: I would like to thank Chris Peck, the great grandson of Elias Peck, for granting me written permission to publish his ancestor’s letter. This letter is owned by Chris Peck and may not be reproduced without his written permission. All rights reserved. Chris is also the transcriber of this article. I added some comments and notes in brackets, but the rest of the transcription is due to Chris’ efforts. Elias Peck was a member of the 10th Connecticut, a regiment in the Tenth Corps, Army of the James which fought primarily on Bermuda Hundred and north of the James River during the Siege of Petersburg.
Within 100 feet of the rebel
Pickets Burmuda Hundreds
Virginia May 28th 1864
The rebels just fired a shell over our heads. The last letter I wrote home was to ma dated May 25th. We lay in the brest works night before last & yesterday & last night we wher sent out hear on picket. The rebel pickets are only 100 feet from us & we have been looking at one another this morning the next company have been exchanging news papers with them this morning. We dont fire on one another now. A rebel cap’t and our cap’t have been talking together The rebel artillery and our throw shell at one another over the pickets head. Our boys give them coffee for tobacco. A mail came this morning and I received two letters one from Julia dated April 16th & one from Wm Sherwood they have both been to Port Royal. I wish you could be hear for a few moments
and see the funny reb’s John McCan has just been shaking a newspaper at them for them to come & exchang. A rebel band plays out hear evry night & our bands play too. The rebel brest works are only musket shot from ours. It is very pleasant day to today. Sinc writeing the above our company have been talking with the rebels & giving them knives for tobacco. The reg’t in front of us is a North Carolina one & it was in the battle of Roanoke Island. Newbern, Kinston, WhiteHall, Morris Island. They say the recollected our reg’t. There was no fireing between us all day. We was relieved from picket at night. May 29th I received a letter from Willi L Peck this morning. We was turned out under armes this morning at ½ past 3 oclock and at 6 oclock we went on fatigue and have worked all day. We are building a fort within about 200 yards of the rebel pickets in plane open lot They stand and look at us. they are
throwing a line of them up just back of their pickets too on the other side of the lot. There has not been a shot fired on either side today The brest works we are building are very strong. They are nearly 3 miles long and evry 500 yards is a small fort with 6 to 8 cannon in and on top of the brest works are sand bags with loop holes to fire through and in front of the brest work is a deep ditch and a stockade and the trees in the wood are cut down and fell criss cross in evry shape. Wo be to the rebels if they charge on our works. The gun boats in both rivers can shell clean across. Our band has been has just began to play. This seems any thing but Sunday. It is hard work to tell when Sunday comes hear. We work just the same as any other day There aint generly much fireing on Sundays. I must stop writeing for today as it is growing dark.
May 31st We was fixing up out tents yesterday & putting green bushes over them for shade. About 4 oclock yesterday afternoon the rebels opened a sharp artillery fire tow which our artillery replied. The shells flew very thick for about one hour we was turned out. We heard very heavy cannonadering all the after noon & evening across the James river. It appeared to be a good ways off. I have been expecting a letter from home for the last two or three day. The mail comes but but I dont get any I should think that you might write as often as I do I got out of ink so I have to write with a lead pencil I hear that Silas Londan wrote home that I was in the hospital all the time the fighting was going on hear. If he did he lied and he knew it too. I have not been in the hospital nor have I been sick one moment sinc I left St Augustine and I have been evry place the reg’t has. If your hear anything of the kind let me know and I will see him about it.
I am well
Elias S Peck
I will put Willi Pecks letter in with this1
Images of Letter Pages
- Peck, Elias S. “Within 100 feet of the rebel Pickets.” Letter to “Dear Sister” 28 May 1864. MS. Bermuda Hundred, VA. ↩