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 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps
Another week has passed and I again find myself writing home. How fast time passes now. It hardly seems a week since I started from home and yet when I count back I find that six sabbaths have come and gone since then. Election was then in the future and every one was anxious to assist in determining the result. Now it is an event of the past. Lincoln is re-elected and whatever policy he may pursue we have nothing to do but acquiesce to it for four years more. The soldiers, as I told you, gave a large vote for him. The question as discussed here was taken in a very different light from what you had it North. Here it was union or disunion. There you had it union and peace with slavery or an abolition war ending no one knew when without slavery. Most of those who voted for McClellan were recruits just arrived with home opinions strongly impressed upon their minds. Nothing of importance has transpired here during the past week nor will until we receive more men. I hear that many thousand of the last call remained north until election was over. If so, perhaps we shall have enough when they arrive to do something. If not three hundred thousand more may expect an invitation before next April to visit the theater of war. Sherman is again on the move. Results that will tell with force on the rebellion are expected from his department. Three brigades of the enemy were seen moving around our left toward the Weldon road a day or two ago. Very likely they are going South to assist in defeating Sherman’s plans, but it will take more men than Lee can spare to overcome the five corps that Sherman has. A deserter came in yesterday from the rebs who said that the rebel army was going into winter quarters as soon as a few more fortifications were finished. Many of our new recruits have deserted lately. Obtaining large bounties was all many enlisted for. As soon as they arrive they begin planning means of escape and as no other feasible method presents itself they desert to the enemy, running the risk of getting through to Mexico or Halifax. [Lt.] Colonel [Hiram A.] Oakman returned tonight. I am very glad he has come for the regiment has but few officers present for duty. Adjutant Davidson is present all right. He is one of the best officers I have, understands his duty well and has not been absent a day since we left Baltimore. The troops are drilling when the weather permits about five hours a day and are improving very fast. My health continues good, I have a good floor in my tent, and a chimney which makes everything very comfortable. The weather today is quite chilly so that a fire is required to keep comfortable. The paymaster has not been around since my return, perhaps will not be until January although he may the last of this month. I just received a letter from Angeline Bates. She writes that William and Alexander were both drafted, lucky for them that they enlisted when they did. Write soon.
- Bates, Delevan. “Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps.” Letter to “Father” 13 Nov. 1864. MS. Near Peebles House, Virginia. 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. ↩