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NP: July 30, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: 23rd MA, Mid-July 1864


In front of Petersburg, Va.,
July, 17, 1864.

MR. EDITOR: —After being silent for some time for the want of something to write about, I once more resume my pen, to give you what little news there is, though there is nothing transpiring here of any interest.

It is Sunday [July 17, 1864]; but how different from our New England Sabbath, where the people can attend divine service, or go into the fields and worship the Maker of the Universe in observing the working and beauties of nature. Here, we are lying in front of an enemy—the enemies of our country I may say. But I am not competent to dilate on this subject, and will therefore leave it for others to indulge their fancies upon.

It is a very pleasant day, with a nice cool breeze. Everything is quiet on our front, the stillness not being broken by the booming of cannon, or the firing of musketry, as it is on other days, there being more or less of each on week days. Our regiment [the 23rd Massachusetts], and in fact the brigade [1/2/XVIII/AotJ], have to go into the pit two days out of four; that is, they go behind the breastworks two days, and then are relieved and stay out for two days. That is what we call going into the pits.

The health of the regiment is rather slim now, owing to the hot weather, no doubt.— There are twelve of Co. C in the regimental hospital, and from the other companies the same proportion, some having more and some less.

The term of the regiment is fast drawing to a close. A little more than two months longer, and the members who did not re-enlist will be returning to their homes and their friends.

I was very much pleased with the account I saw in the Telegraph of the reception of the members of Co. K, and was glad to find the people turned out in solid column to receive the war-worn veterans, for they were well worthy of it.1 Lieut Col. Chambers, of our regiment, who was wounded at Drury’s Bluff, has since died from the effects of the wounds he received. There are quite a number of people who are finding fault with Gen. Grant because he does not go ahead and tale Petersburg and Richmond. Now I would say to the croakers at home, that the army have the greatest confidence in Gen. Grant, and think that he knows what he is about. All we want these croakers to do is to let Gen. Grant alone, for he will do well enough. If they think they can do any better, just let them come out here and try it; that is all. Do not, for Heaven’s sake, stay at home and croak, and find fault, but just shoulder your musket for three years, and see if, at the end of that time, you will find fault. Now a word to the croakers in the army, for I am sorry to say there are some even among us. You ought to [k]now better than to croak and find fault with the best general there is in the army, and I think I’m safe when I say in the United States. You do not want to march and fight while this hot weather lasts. I hardly think you do. It is bad enough to have to lay behind breastworks for two days in the hot sun.

There is one person that we should like to see, and he is the paymaster; as Uncle Samuel owes us four months’ pay, and a few greenbacks would come very acceptable just now, as the boys have not got any small change. Oh, we would like to look on thy benign countenance, O paymaster, and look in thine eye and see if thou meant to pay us.

Yours, truly,               GUARD.2


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

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18640730CALGTP1C4 23rdMALetter


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: The Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph had quite a few articles on the return home of the 12th Massachusetts, a regiment with many members hailing from the community of Gloucester, Massachusetts.
  2. “Letter From The 23rd Mass. Reg’t.” Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph. July 30, 1864, p. 1 col. 4
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