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LT: December 25, 1864 Samuel J. Bradlee (14th Battery Massachusetts Light Artillery)

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.

“Fort Merriam”
Christmas Day

My Dear Wife

Just four short years ago tonight you and I solemnly plighted our faith to each other, for so long as we both should live – you my darling are now far, far away from me in our Northern home, and (surrounded by your little innocent babes,) I can fancy you teaching the evening prayer, or lulling the young head to sleep, with that sweetest of all songs a mother’s lullaby – I was Officer of the Day yesterday, and of course was up most all night. As morning was near dawning I made my usual rounds, to watch the tired sentinels, and see that all was right – Returning back to my quarters, how swiftly memory brought back the last Christmas Holiday and contrasted it with this – It seemed as if I could almost hear the Christmas Chimes – Strange Chimes we have we have here – Cracking Rifles, and booming Cannon, sometimes on the Picket line, bright clashing Saber strokes, ends the monotony. I am coming home, God willing, and before long –

I have been very sick again, owing to a severe cold settling on my throat and lungs – I could not talk or swallow except with great difficulty –

Even now the Doctor wants me to go to the Hospital, but I won’t go again if I can possibly do my duty properly here – My horse is partly to blame for my cold – I rode him down to the Hospital and the Point, coming back I stopped at the Sanitary Commission a moment, I tied “Black Ned” to a post, and I thought him all right -, but soon after I went in Mr. Ned slips off his bridle and takes French leave – When I came out to ride home, I had no horse, only a bridle – The night was pitch dark and the roads muddy _ I borrowed a Lantern and plodded home on foot, carrying the bridle – When I got home, no horse was there – So I laid down in my tent for an hour or so to wait and give him a chance to come home, but Mr. Ned kept away – So buckling on my saber, with my lantern in hand, away I went again down to the Hospital, and after hunting until Midnight I found the black rascal, snugly stowed away in a stable – He had been picked up by a guard, and put there – His feet had to travel coming home that night – . I had no bridle either –

Yesterday we had a fine drill, all by the Bugle calls – worked first rate

Please ask Grandmother if she got the letter I sent her with some Secesh money in it?
Don’t forget it Pet –
Love to all – Kiss the children for me

Your own Husband,
Samuel J. Bradlee
Senior 1st Lt.
14th Mass. Lt. Battery1


  1. Bradlee, Samuel J. “Fort Merriam” Letter to “My Dear Wife” 25 Dec. 1864. MS. Near City Point, 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.
{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Bill Bradlee April 28, 2015, 1:09 am

    This was my great grandfather’s letter. I have the originals of three other letters he wrote to his wife during the war.

  • Brett Schulte April 28, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Mr. Bradlee, thanks for commenting! Were any of the other three letters Samuel wrote dated during the Siege of Petersburg? If so, I’d love to feature transcriptions of them on this site.


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