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NP: July 16, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA at Petersburg, Late June to Early July 1864


Near Petersburg, Va.; July 3, 1864.

MR. EDITOR:—By request of your correspondent, who is unwell, I venture to write a few lines for your paper; It is a new business for me, but it is an old saying and a true one that “old TRY never was beat,” so here goes for my first attempt at newspaper correspondence. I hope your readers will overlook the poor construction of my letter. The grammar will be none of the best, and there will be very little language such as Edward Everett1 uses in his great speeches, but you can dose it up and make it presentable.

Our brigade [2/1/V/AotP] is at present situated about a mile in the rear of the front of our works; constituting the reserve of this division [First Division, Fifth Corps]; lying in camp, awaiting orders to move to any part of the line that may be attacked and need strengthening.

There is not such hard fighting now as there has been during the campaign, for the reason that our friend, Mr. Lee, with his boasted army, could not stand it quite as long as Gen. Grant saw fit to try him. But the pickets keep up a continual popping at one another from their breastworks, night and day, and the artillery on both sides are at it most of the time.

Early on the morning of the 1st inst. [July 1, 1864], we were awoke by an unusual firing, and it seemed as if all our artillery had opened on what might be called the doomed city of Petersburg.—There was a great fire burning in the direction of the city, and the ringing of bells could be distinctly heard in our camp. The firing has been kept up, to a greater or less extent, ever since.

If all reports are true, there will be what I might be called a big national salute to-morrow, (the 4th.) Perhaps the Johnnies will find out that our powder is just as plenty as it was last year at this time, when they were trying to shell us from our position at Gettysburg, a place ever to be remembered by the survivors of the army of the Potomac.

There are a great many rumors afloat concerning the future movements of this army, but it is useless to place dependence in any of them.

Our pay rolls have been made out the past week, and on the 30th ult. [June 30, 1864], we were mustered for pay. I have read in some of the late Washington papers that there was no need of muster or pay rolls for the line officers and privates of the army, as only Generals and staffs would receive pay at present. I cannot think the government will be guilty of so great an act of injustice, as the soldiers need the greenbacks, both for their own use, and the use of their families at home. They have earned their money and it should not be withheld from them.

Capt. Cunningham has returned to his regiment looking finely, and all are pleased to see him around camp once more. We are hoping he will receive the promotion which he so deservedly merits, since the death of our Colonel and the resignation of our Lieut. Colonel leaves vacancies in those offices. Capt Cunningham is a brave and efficient officer, entitled to promotion, and as he is a general favorite, his elevation would give universal satisfaction.2

We get letters from our boys who are absent in the hospitals on account of wounds and sickness. They are well cared for, but express disappointment in one respect. From nearly every city or town of Massachusetts, they find special agents sent out to look after the comfort of those who belong to their respective cities or towns. But Gloucester is not, as yet, represented. We hope it will not much longer be said of Gloucester, that while she is wide awake to everything else, she is unmindful of her sons who are languishing on beds of sickness and disability this hot weather. Let some agent of the town be sent to Washington to attend to this matter. While you do not neglect duly to honor the soldiers who have returned to their homes and comforts, forget not those who are yet deprived of those comforts but are stretched on beds of pain.

But as the mail is about to close I must wind up my story.

Yours,                            SIEGE.3


Other Massachusetts’ Soldier Letters in the Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph

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18640716CALGTP1C4 32ndMACoDLetter


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Edward Everett was one of the foremost orators of the day, a wildly famous man who was the headliner at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery on November 19, 1863.  A short little address by Abraham Lincoln on that day seems to have weathered the winds of time just a little bit better than Everett’s far lengthier speech.
  2. SOPO Editor’s Note: Cunningham would eventually be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, but Major (later Colonel) J. Cushing Edmands commanded the regiment before Cunningham would get his chance.
  3. “Letter From Co. D, 32d Mass.” Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph. July 16, 1864, p. 1 col. 4
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