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.
U.S. Sanitary Commission
City Point V.A.
Oct. 5, 18641
Dear Wife, I take my pencil again to drop you a few lines to inform you that I am well at present and thankful to God. I hope you are all well and getting along well. Mary, I have not received any letter. I don’t know what is wrong I have written to you about 20 letters to you, yet why is it I cannot hear from home and friends any more.
Mary we are hauling wounded daily that get wounded in front of Petersburg and on that Line to Southside Railroad. I have been out all hours of the night. I hauled some with their legs off and others their arms and even shot through the body in the head and back. There is hard fighting going on every day. Last night our men took the Danville Railroad and 1500 as prisoners and 8000 head of cattle from the Rebs. Our forces are within a few miles of Richmond and are driving the Rebs in at every point. We will soon have Petersburg. We look for it to fall daily. There are a great many reinforcements coming in daily. We have lost a great many men and I have not heard from our Regt. for a long time and I have not been paid yet and will not be paid till next month and then I will get 26$ I will send it home as soon as I get it.
I will not write much this time until I can hear from you and from home for I do not know if you get my letters or not. You will please write if it is not too much trouble for you. Will you try and bear it – I will be home sometime between this and 2 years if God will. If you write tell me all the news. Try and get along the best you can – kiss Sadie for me and Pray often to God who is able to help you. If you direct your letter as I tell it will come and if you don’t it won’t – City Point Hospital, Va. in care of Lieutenant Goodwin, ambulance train
Give my best wishes to all my friends. I remain yours as ever. P.W. Pringle
- 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. ↩