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.
Camp near Petersburg
Dec. 29th 18641
Mrs. Mary Pringle
Dear Wife, I have taken my pencil to drop you a few lines to inform you that I am alive and hoping that these few lines will find you all in the best of health. I am here near Petersburg. We are in the front. We can see the Rebs every day when we are on picket. We expect a big fight before long. Mary, I want you to write to me often as you can handy and let me know how you are getting along.
I am well content and well as ever I was in my life. I would like to come home but there is no chance to get home. There are no furlows given but to them that have sickness in their families and then only in extreme cases.
Mary, Christmas is over and we had hard tack and coffee for our Christmas and will have the same for New Year, I suppose. I would like to have some apples and chestnuts or some apple butter or some sausages if it would not be to much trouble. Send me a box with some articles in it. I have plenty to wear. I got a good over coat that I picked up and I have plenty to live on such as it is. There are a great many boxes coming to our boys. The directions are the same as on letters – the division and brigade and corps. I was looking this good while for a letter from you.
The news is good from the Western army. I am of the opinion the war will soon be over I think the Rebs are getting very much out of heart. There are numbers of them defecting daily and coming in to our lines. They all give a very gloomy account of the Rebellion. Mary, we will be paid in January some time perhaps the 15th and then I will get about $150 and I will send it to you. Be of good heart. I will get home sometime if the Lord is willing. I want you to answer this if you please. No more, but remain yours as ever, P.W. Pringle. I will send my diary home the first of the year. Give my love to all my friends.
6th Army corps
- 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. ↩