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.
In camp Munson’s Hill
May 9th 18651
I have taken my pensyl to drop you a few lines to inform you that I am some well for which blessing I am thankful to God and I hope these few lines will find you all in the best of health. I will try and tell you a little about our marches this spring. We traveld about 800 miles since the 2nd of April. We left or broke camp to 1st of April but were held back by a storm. We had a hard time but we was victorious at every point. As soon as we had Petersburg we moved briskly on to the rear of Lees army and drove him about 100 miles and bagged him & all his army and then we rested 5 day and then we move to Danville.
We marched over 100 miles in 4 days carrying 40 round of ammunision and knapsacks, haversacks, canteens. We staid 3 weeks in Danville and then we came to Richmond, Va. and lay there 4 or 5 day and then came Washington. And we are now on Munson Hill. We was on a Review in Washington yesterday the 8. The hole of the 6th Corps. We seen the President Johnston. It was a fine site but I never felt the sun so hot in my life. There was hundreds fell down along the road. They fell almost as they would fall in battle. Some never to rise again – alive – the heat never was so severe. Men say they never seen so many men fall by the sun. Every few rods they would drop down sun struck. We left our camp at 4 o’clock in the morning and crossed the Long Bridge and at nine o’clock we passed the capitol. We formed near the Long Bridge and marched up to the capital and down Pennsylvania Avenue and down Maryland Avenue and then came across the dock up to Munson’s Hill to our camp at one o’clock.
We had 3 very hard battles this spring. The 25 of March & the 2nd of April & 5 of April at Sailers Run. There we captured Ewell’s whole Corps. He surrendered to the 6th corps. I was slitly wounded on the 2nd of April before Petersburg. The ball passed through my haversack & through 2 tin plates & hard tack & lodged against my back. I thought my back was broke. But it only made a blue spot. I never was under so heavy a fire of shell & grape & canister in my life. We captered 40 pieces of artilry. There was as high as six batterys playing on us at one time. One in our rear & 2 or 3 on our flanks & in our front. But we went forward to victory. We captered all of the baterys as we went.
We will be at home in 3 or 4 week I think. Or at least that is the talk. I got them post stamps you sent me. I am very glad to received them. Also I got that dryed beef that Mrs. Tomb sent to me. It done me good as we was out of rashens at the time and it was splendid. I thank her very much for her kindness to me. I shall remember her while I live. Here is a rosey I got in Washington given to our color bearer. A nice boucay. I will send one to Mrs. Tomb. I have nothing else to give at present. 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. ↩