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
All quiet in front of Petersburg, the morning papers report and truly too for I have not heard a rebel gun during the past week. There is however a little excitement in the colored division on account of the rumor that General Meade had agreed with General Butler to trade us off for white troops, which has obtained general credence as two regiments of the third brigade left night before last with orders to report at Point of Rocks. The remaining regiments will doubtless go in a few days, and I am glad of it for I have always thought the colored troops ought to be placed together, and under Butler there is no doubt but that they will have credit for all they do.1 Gen. Burnside paid the corps a flying visit a few days ago arriving at night and leaving the next morning. I have not heard what his business was but presume it was to consult his old division commander as to whether they would like to accompany him on an expedition which I hear he is to command.
It is raining today not very fast but a steady disagreeable drizzling rain that makes one feel very thankful that he has a good shelter over his head and a good fire to sit by. The weather is not very cold. We have had a few slight frosts this month. I have a good brick chimney and fireplace in the side of my tent. The brick came from the ruins of somebody’s mansion that once stood near our camp. The inhabitants left just before we came and in a short time everything that could be used to increase the comforts of camp life was appropriated. The timber in this section is mostly second growth pine and as it is full of pitch burns very readily.
Adjutant Davidson left for home this morning on a fifteen days leave. If you are out to Cooperstown or Cherry Valley this week perhaps you may meet him. I have not heard from Ellen since my return. Please mention in your next letter how she is getting along and also send me a few stamps.
Yours as ever,
- SOPO Editor’s Note: Bates wasn’t far off the mark here. In early December 1864, the Colored Division of Ninth Corps was transferred to the new all-Black XXV Corps in the Army of the James. So Bates got his wish. All of the USCT regiments served together in one corps in Butler’s Army of the James. ↩
- Bates, Delevan. “Headquarters, 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 9th Corps.” Letter to “Father” 20 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. ↩