≡ Menu

LT: July 26, 1864 Henry F. Young (7th Wisconsin)

SOPO Editor’s Note: Captain Henry F. Young of the 7th Wisconsin wrote twenty letters while at the Siege of Petersburg from June to December 1864. Researcher Roy Gustrowsky transcribed this letter from the original at the Wisconsin Historical Society in Madison, Wisconsin.  He is currently in the process of writing a regimental history of the 7th Wisconsin. “Delia” was Henry F. Young’s wife, and “Father” was his Father-in-Law Jared Warner, a prominent businessman of Grant County, Wisconsin. Gustrowsky has magnanimously made these transcriptions available to the Siege of Petersburg Online for publication, and we thank him for his generosity.

UPDATE: I recently learned that a new book has been published by the University of Wisconsin Press, entitled Dear Delia: The Civil War Letters of Captain Henry F. Young, Seventh Wisconsin Infantry, and edited by Micheal Larson and John David Smith. If you want to read all of Henry’s letters throughout the war, purchase the book!

Near Petersburg Va
July 26/64

Dear Father

I received your letter several days ago glad to hear you were all well and hear you had rain. I have delayed writing until the question was settled in reference to our Muster. The orders are to retain the officers of all Veteran Regts So you had better rent the Mill for one year if you can do so to suit yourself.

We are digingdigingdiging it is nothing but dig you cant realize the ammount of work we are doing building fortifications Sunken roads Saps &c.1

We are well pleased with the call for 500000 I think we will get them this time we want the full quota without any Shuffling or __(illegible).2

The health of our men is good we have been having rain lately the weather is cool and pleasant. We have had no casualities Since my last. There is Regts being Mustered out every day whose time of Service has expired.3

We have every confidence in being able to rout the Rebs out of this in time, but Seiging is hard work and awful Slow. We take a __(illegible) men work all night throwing works that Command Some portion of the Enemys works. The next night they will throw up counter works, and so it goes. The uninitiated would suppose we were each trying to outdo the other with pick & shovel but there will in all probability be a grand opening(?) Some of these Mornings. We will have 400 pieces of artillery ready to openn at once, Some of throwing 100 lbs of Shell and the Rebs have the __(illegible) to answer back but when we open the city of Petersburg is doomed.

We have good news from Sherman hope he will wipe out Hoods Army.4 The Rebs are becoming uneasy about our Mining their Works and well they may be for if nothing happens they will soon realize the truth of their fears.5

My good wishes to all

Yours truly

H F Young6


Letters of Henry W. Young:


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: For an overview of the digging going on at Petersburg at the time Captain Young wrote this letter, see this report of Captain George H. Mendell, commander of the US Engineer Battalion.
  2. SOPO Editors Note: President Lincoln had, earlier that July, called for 500,000 more men to put down the rebellion.  Here is a contemporary news article laying out the terms of this call from the July 19, 1864 New York Times.
  3. SOPO Editor’s Note: Regiments in the Army of the Potomac had typically enlisted for two years, three years, or the war.  In July 1864, many two year and three year regiments’ terms of enlistment were up, and the Army of the Potomac lost many veteran troops during this time.  Generally, the men who enlisted at the formation of the regiment went home, while those who enlisted later and still had time to serve either continued on with the existing regiment if enough men were left, or were transferred into another regiment from their state.  At some point, I would love to create a graphic showing how all of these movements occurred and where the remaining men went to serve out their terms.
  4. SOPO Editor’s Note: William Tecumseh Sherman was at the gates of Atlanta by the time Young wrote this letter.  Opposing him was newly appointed army commander John Bell Hood, who had only recently replaced Joseph Johnston in that role. News traveled more slowly during the Civil War, but it seems likely the news Young refers to here is probably the Union victory at Peachtree Creek on July 20, and possibly also the victory snatched from the jaws of defeat at Bald Hill on July 22.  Sherman would go on to capture Atlanta in early September 1864, just a little over a month after this letter was written.
  5. SOPO Editor’s Note: Word of Col. Henry Pleasants and his 48th Pennsylvania tunneling under the Confederate lines must have spread through the army, in late July, because I have come across numerous references to vague promises of something coming soon via mining.  That said, I have not come across any hard evidence of soldiers telling other soldiers about the project.  It is unclear if Young and numerous others had actually heard of Pleasants’ effort specifically or if camp gossip caused these references.  In any case, Young’s words were prophetic.  Less than a week after he wrote this letter, Pleasants blew up Pegram’s Salient and the horrific Battle of the Crater began.
  6. Young, Henry F. “Near Petersburg Va.” Received by Dear Father, Near Petersburg Va. 26 July 1864, Petersburg, VA.
{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Reply