Editor’s Note: This item is part of a collection of letters and diary entries from soldiers of the 8th New York Heavy Artillery written while the unit was at the Siege of Petersburg. Researcher and author Kathryn Lerch generously donated all of the items in this collection for use at The Siege of Petersburg Online.
Sgt. T. J. Dean Letter July 1, 18641
July 1st 1864
In the Field South of Petersburg Va
I seat myself once more with pen and ink to scribe a few lines to you. I am sitting on the ground under a large oak tree writing on the head of Wm Osborns Drum. I think it the best place I have had since I left Bal. we came into these lines of works day before yesterday. we are the front line but the Rebs are not very close about 2½ miles off. Yesterday was muster day. rather a slim muster for the 8th. Co I had present 54 men. I am in command of the Co yet. all of the officers are absent yet. I am feeling quite like myself to day. I think two or three more days rest will bring me all right. There hasent ben aney casualities since I last wrote. I think the worst and hardest of our fighting is over with for a spell. Keep up good Courage. dont worry about me for it will do you no good. you must consider where I am and let it go at that. there is no help only in the sword. we must whip them out or get whiped. I dont know whare to stop writing and I dont write aneything that amounts to much. I dont think we shall get our pay until after this campaign is over with and we get settled down in some place where we are shure of stoping over night. The weather has been somewhat cooler for the past two days. we was threatened with a shower but it did not make out to rain. it is very dry almost a month since it rained. will be the third two days more. I dont want you to send aney more paper & stamps. I was luckey enough to get a supply the other day. I got 25 stamps and the same amount of paper & envelopes. Wm Osborn is hunting grey backs off his pants & shirt now. we soldiers have to hunt them regularly every day. our moveing around so much and laying behind the brest works whare other troops have laid get a crop every day on us. I hunted mine and took a wash all over early this morn. It is almost impossible for us to keep ourselves clean. we have to lay down where they stop us in rank. it dont matter where it is when we stop for the night. we fix up a little but a great many times we are so fattegued and worn out that we just drop where we are. I dont think of aneything more this time. Accept my best wishes all.
From the Soldier Boy T J Dean
Hevey cannonadeing can be distinctly heard in the direction of Petersburg. I think they are pounding away at that Bridge they tell so much about in the papers. I will write more soon. I cant give much of an account of what is going on. everything works blind in regard to the general involvements and shifts. sometimes I think there dont aney boddy know only Grant and he gets confused sometimes but I think he is all right on the goose question.
- In possession of Kathryn W. Lerch and part of manuscript history of Eighth New York Heavy Artillery 1862-1865 ↩