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.
Thinking as there is some hard fighting going on at this time on two sides of me you might feel rather anxious about me . . .The fight of the past three days has been in hearing of us here we could hear the artillery quite plain and some of the time the Musketry, it was about Six miles southwest of this place, while I write the booming of guns can be heard in the distance. Our armies have been pressing hard, the rebels all of the time slowly falling back the fighting is not all over yet for I think a mighty struggle is to come and if the God of battles sees fit to give us the victory1
At this point in my letter I had to stop a little while for the rebels fired two shots over this way and we had to fall in at our guns and reply; they are still firing some off to the left of here a mile or two—
I guess they only fired to find out if we had any troops remaining here, now thinking perhaps that we had withdrawn to send our troops on to the extreme left or right where the fighting is going on, but they found us here so they keep quiet – I think I shall not stay here long -, but if nothing happens to prevent I shall write you often while the fight continues.
Last Friday a man was shot for Desertion, about ¼ of a mile from here, he seemed very calm as he marched to the place of execution, he had been sentenced to be shot twice before and pardoned each time but this time he was shot. he belonged to a N.Y. Regt was about my size and a very good looking man about 30 years old, I should think.. . .
your affectionate Son James [Elliott]2
- SOPO Editor’ Note: Elliott is talking about the Battle of Peebles Farm, fought southwest of Petersburg from September 30-October 2, 1864 during the Fifth Offensive. ↩
- Elliott, James P. “Battery Near Petersburg, Va.” Letter to “Dear Mother” 2 Oct. 1864. MS. Battery Near 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. ↩