Frank Wicks, the creator of the Civil War play Soldier, Come Home, based on his ancestors’ letters to each other during the Civil War, has graciously allowed me to reproduce some of those letters here at the Siege of Petersburg Online. Frank’s great-grandparents were Philip W. and Mary Pringle, and their letters to each other while Philip was a soldier in the 102nd Pennsylvania form the basis of his play. Some of Philip’s letters written during 1864 and 1865 were penned while he was present at the Siege of Petersburg, though as a member of the Union 6th Corps he was away for a few months in the Shenandoah Valley. The letters which appear below mostly pertain to the Siege of Petersburg as observed by a 6th Corps Pennsylvania soldier. All of these letters are the property of Frank Wicks and may not be reproduced without his express written consent.
June 25th /641
Near Petersburg V.A.
I take my pencil to drop you a few lines to inform you that I am well and I received your letters all so far and am glad to hear you are well. Mary, I am lying in the Front Rifle Pits but we are moving about daily and I do not know how soon we will leave this and go further forward. We was nearly captured the other evening. The Rebs got behind some of our boys but we all got out safe but one or 2. There is fighting going on daily along the Line. The Rebs took about ten hundred of our men prisoners and 4 pieces of artillery. But we are taking some of them daily and killing of them daily. Our line of works are about 10 miles long.
I received one letter from Brother Joseph and one from Father and one from you this week. Mary, still live in good heart. We will meet some day sooner or later. Put your trust in God. Pray Daily to that great being who is. All in all I would very much like to get home But I am here in the army and will if I live. Have to stay out my time and I will try to bear it patiently and do all I can to put down rebellion and hope it will not be far distant when we will lay down our arms in Peace and the Rebs be subdued or whipped and will have to lay down their arms. Oh how happy I would be If we could all go home and the war to cease.
Mary we are getting well fortified and in a few days they cannot drive us out at all and if we can cut all their railroads they will have to surrender or come out of their strongholds and fight us on our own ground and we can whip them on a fair fight and they are beaten here at this place. I think they will give up the struggle. Mary, George’s brother was killed on the James River. George is well but there was a great many of our boys killed and wounded. Some of them shot through the head. There was one of our Co. shot in the head Sunday evening. His name was Brady. We can hear the canon regular roaring and the pickets firing at each other and so on. I must bring my letter to close for the present. You must excuse me for not writing more at a time but I have not the time to write much at a time. You must not fret. Be content as much as possible. Live in hopes that we will meet again. No more. But remain yours as ever.
- Soldier, Come Home – by Frank W. Wicks A play based on family civil war letters. 2010-2012. 2 August 2012 <http://civilwarplay.com/>. These letters are used with the permission of Frank Wicks, and may not be reproduced without the express written consent of the owner. All rights reserved. ↩