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.
My Dear Abbie,
Yesterday I told you we would be relieved and go to camp this morning, but we are still on the front, although our picket line was relieved this morning by the 11th M[ain]e., the Regt. that was suppose to relieve us. Our movements since last night have been very singular. Between one and two o’clock this morning Lieut. Savage came up and gave orders for us to fall back in our second line of works which is the regular battle line, to leave our company deployed on the ground our regiment occupied in the trenches, and for our pickets as soon as the 2nd Corps pickets fell back, to fall back to the trenches. We immediately fell back and took our position. Had hardly got it when we were ordered to return to our old position. A battery had been left on our old line without orders to fall back. It was hardly safe to leave it with only a skirmish line to support it. Their horses were some distance to the rear and by the time they got orders it was too late to bring up the horses and get back before day light. They will probably fall back tonight. What this movement is for I cannot understand. No one appears to know. The trenches we now occupy will probably be held as the picket line. It is rumored this morning that one Div. of the 10th Corps is going somewhere. If there is anything to be done, probably one Div. will be called in to requisition. Very likely we may get some orders. Last night we had the most splendid sight I ever saw. About 12 o’clock the artillery opened on our whole line. Such a roar and such continued streaks of fire as was passing through the air I never before saw. Even on Morris Island I saw nothing so grand1. The Rebs opened quite heavy with mortars on our right. The firing lasted perhaps twenty minutes to half an hour when it entirely ceased. We were told afterwards it was a salute for Atlanta. During cannonade the bands in the rear were playing National airs. I received a letter from you last night dated the 1st. I am glad to hear you did so well at the fair. I was fearfully considering the times you would not do very well. I am also glad to hear of the success of the Missionary Association. I shall be delighted to attend some of its meetings. Who do you have to speak now a days. I suppose Mr. Russell teaches the children to sing. You speak about the light guard giving Co. I a reception when they come home. When do they suppose to give it. The men were not all mustered in together, but range from 2nd to the 30th. Most of them however on the 2nd. Whatever, they will all be mustered out together or each man as his time expires. I am unable to say. As to their accepting a reception from the light guard, they don’t care particularly about it, but still they would receive it, but they would not consent to be marched around much. They think they have seen enough of that already. I told them they had better accept it. I think it will be difficult to get them together after they reach home. It is very hot today. I sent my pieces of shelter tent to camp this morning supposing we would go in. One of the boys however has kindly given me his piece so that I have something to keep the sun off my head. Still it makes it fairly snap. Lieut. Marshall sent in his resignation on Saturday to take effect on the 1st October. I doubt it being accepted. He may however get dismissed. I am only waiting to see how things work before sending in mine. The news from Atlanta is still better this morning. Things look bright. We will thank God and take courage. I will not close my letter until tonight. Perhaps something may turn up before that time. The Rebs don’t like the news from Atlanta a bit. Makes them feel pretty sour. The head of Early’s column reached Petersburg last night so that we probably have reinforcements in our front. Under arms. An attack was expected, but it is now near noon and nothing has been heard from it at all. It was all a scare. The news from Sherman yesterday I think very good. Nothing heard from towards Petersburg. Things appear to be rather quiet there. I enclose you another photograph to add to your collection, W. Eugene Clark, Co. A. He is a good fellow and it a fine picture. I have more promised. I shall have to lay my writing aside for a few moments as I am called to dinner. After dinner. I wish we could have some rain. It is very dry and dusty. I am sorry to hear that Joseph is unwell. I must try and write him this afternoon. At dinner I heard that the resignation of Q[uarter].M[aster]. Fowler has been accepted and he has received an honorable discharge from the service. I am glad for Fowler’s sake. He has been for two years trying to get out. His resignation was once accepted by Genl. Hunter. He has been very anxious to get home to get married. He has been home twice. Once I think he intended to get married but the lady could not see it until he came home for good. Now I hope all their anticipations may be realized. Fowler is a fair fellow and I am rather sorry to lose [him]. Parsons will probably be appointed Q[uarter].M[aster]. and I will return to my company. Give my love to all. Loving Yours, Benjamin.2
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Wright was with the 10th Connecticut during the Siege of Charleston, South Carolina, and must have been witness to many an artillry bombardment during his time there. ↩
- Wright, Benjamin. “In the trenches before Petersburg, Va.” Letter to “My Dear Abbie” 5 Sept. 1864. MS. In the trenches before Petersburg, Va. This letter appears here due to the express written consent of Chris Wehner, owner of SoldierStudies.org and may not be used without his permission. All rights reserved. ↩