Editor’s Note: The Soldier Studies web site (http://www.soldierstudies.org) collects and publishes letters written during the Civil War. Owner/editor Chris Wehner was kind enough to grant me written permission to publish a selection of letters from his site which focus on the Siege of Petersburg. Look for letters to appear here during the 150th anniversary of the Siege of Petersburg and beyond. These letters may not be reused without the express written consent of Chris Wehner. All rights reserved.
Headquarters 117th N[ew] Y[ork] V[olunteers]
I write once more to inform you that I am well and hopeing you are the same – I wrote you the 14th on Board Steamer Swanee which I suppose you have received before this.- we landed at Bermuda Hundred Landing the evening of the 14th – landed and marched 4 miles and camped for the night – the next morning we Started at 3 O clock – marched to the Point of Rocks on the appomattox River crossed on a Pontoon Bridge and Started in the direction of Petersburg – there were two divisions of the 18th corps about 12,000 men and a Brigade of 300 negroes – we got within 2 ½ miles of the city with out serious opposition – there we found the enemy Strongly Posted behind their works – we formed a line of Battle and moved up to about ¼ of a mile of their works where we laid till 6 O clock in the evening waiting for a part of Grants army to come up to our assistance – at that time we heard that the 2nd corps was within 4 miles of us and the order was immediately given to Storm the works as delay was dangerous, for we could see large reinforcements coming to the aid of the enemy and they were within 2 miles of them – when the order to charge was given, the movement was so bold and unexpected that it took the enemy entirely by surprise and before they could get themselves in position, we were upon them – and when their line was once broken they broke and ran the best they knew how – the first work was a 5 gun Battery and ours was the first Regiment in, and in half an hour our forces had taken their entire line of 2 or 3 miles in length and the Strongest Position I have ever seen – it is a range of hills circling around the south side of Petersburg about 2 miles from the city – the next morning a large part of lees army were in the city and attacked some parts of our line but it was too strong for him and our artillery kept up a constant fire on his troops – we staid there till the evening of the 17th when we came to our present Position where we arrived yesterday – we are near where we were 4 weeks ago in a very good place ½ mile from James River on a high Plain – we have excellent water – I do not know how long we will stay here – I think Richmond will be ours very soon – Grant holds all the (Roads lead this is crossed out) Rail Roads leading south from Petersburg – Lee has fallen back to the North side of the stream – niether [sic, neither] army Occupies the city now but we can occupy it any time we wish – the last move of Grants army is one of the greatest successes of the war – the losses of our Regiment on Friday were very light – 20 will cover the whole loss killed and wounded – the Prospect boys are all right. I have not heard any thing from you since I wrote last, but expect a letter every day. you must be sure and not forget to write often as I will let you know if we move from here. it is very evident to me that the hardest fighting is over, and I shall be glad to get back to see you all – give my love all the friends – if you cant read this send it back and I will send you —(mistake) another – I hold my paper in one hand and write with the other – from you loving Husband
Linus R Clark1