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.
Dear Friend Mary,
I recieved your welcomed letter in due time, and was vary happy to hear from you again. where do you suppose I was when it came to me. well I will tell you. it was Oct 27th when we wer going around on the wright of the Rebs.1 I read it as we road along the rode.
Well we had quite a time that day I can tell you. we did not have as much fighting as we have had at some other times. the infantry had it prety hard on our (the Cav’s) right.2 The Rebs wer allmost clean around us. our Reg’t had two men killed, several wounded, and some missing. at night our squadron was on pickett. had several colisions with the enemy in the course of the night. it rained amost all day and night. our forces withdrew before day light. we wer all glad to get out of it as easy as we did. we went over the ground that Wilson was cut up so on last summer.3 saw the remains of our wounded that wer left in the Johneys hands and died and wer not burrid. It doesent seem possible that men can be so inhuman, does it.
As soon as we got back our Regt was sent out on picket. wer out 5 days. the bushwhackers took one and shot one out of Co. K while we wer out.
I am well except a little cold, which is nuthing here. I have been over to the 185th [New York] once sometime a go. I saw your brother Frank & Ren. they wer well then I think. It seemed amost like going home to see so many that I know of my old friends. I am going to try and get a pass to go and visit them again to morrow. I had a letter from Sister a few days since. said my folks wer not vary well. It is getting to be prety changable weather here now. snowed a few flakes the other day. we shall have to go into winter quarters before long. The boys are a having quite a political conversation without. I am hapy to say that there is but a few McClellan men in our Co. or in the army. I sent up a vote for Uncle Abe.4
Mati, I suppose that if you go west that you will not quite forget me while in a southern land. but I am in hopes that I shall not be here by the time you start west.
I would like to be there and go to meeting with you. I would like to go to a good meeting once more and see how it would seem. it is so long since I have. we have them here but I do not attend vary often. our Chaplain is not liked vary well. think he drinks to much commissary stubtoe.
Mary as I can not be there to share any of your shop fun, I shall have to close, and go to bed and dream that I wer there haveing a gay old time.
Dear friend, though I am far a way
I often think of thee.
It cheers my heart to think that thou
Dost still remember me.
J. G. Matteson
P. S. Write as soon as convenient.5
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Matteson is referring to the Battle of Boydton Plank Road, where two divisions of Hancock’s Second Corps and Gregg’s cavalry division tried to push past Confederate defenses and get astride the Southside Railroad. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: William Mahone took three brigades of infantry, moved quietly across a damn on Hatcher’s Run, and took a path to the right rear of the Second Corps before launching a flank attack. The Union infantry of Egan’s Division literally turned around and charged into their rear to scatter Mahone’s attack and save the day. ↩
- James Wilson and August Kautz moved through this area in late June 1864 during the Wilson-Kautz Raid. ↩
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Matteson voted in the Presidential Election of 1864. Being from New York, he voted by proxy several days early. That is, he and the other men in his regiment voted and placed their votes in sealed envelopes, which were then carried back to New York. ↩
- Matteson, Justus G. “No title.” Letter to “Dear Friend Mary” 4 Nov. 1864. MS. 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. ↩