≡ Menu

NP: July 30, 1864 Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph: Co. D, 32nd MA, Mid-July 1864


Near Petersburg, Va., July 21, 1864.

MR. EDITOR:—Since I last wrote, everything has remained about the same as it was then in front of the 5th Corps. On the evening of the 12th [of July 1864], our regiment [the 32nd Massachusetts], accompanied by two other regiments of the brigade, left camp and went to the front to act as a support for the picket line. They have remained there ever since, having good times, with but little to do. The Johnnys, who are doing picket in front of us, are quite a friendly set of fellows. They exchange papers with our picket daily. They will also trade tobacco for soap, writing paper, envelopes, or any other little article that we might have to trade with them. The mode the pickets have of exchanging papers in the daytime is as follows:—they will both tie their papers to something that is heavy, and then throw to each other. But in the evening it is done a little different. Both Yank and Johnny walk out and meet each other, and do the business like two old friends, always having a little talk together and passing a few jokes on each other as regards the war, both saying they wished the thing to an end. The distance between both picket lines is very short, not over a stone’s throw. Both parties can sit in their pits and talk together with ease. There has not been a shot fired at our Division [First Division, Fifth Corps] picket for a long while, but on the right of us they keep the thing in motion all the time.

On the 13th [of July 1864] we were visited by one who might be called a stranger among us. It was no other than the person of our old and former orderly, Lieut. W. H. Dolliver, who after receiving his promotion was transferred into Artillery. He was looking tip-top, living on the best and having what we soldiers call a soft job. All of the old company seemed pleased to see the Lieut. again. His visit was but a short one. He is still the same jolly fellow as he was in times past.

For several days past we have not received our regular mail, which we miss very much. It is supposed that it has been stopped on account of the rebel raid North.1 On the night of the 28th [of June 1864] the mail again made its appearance among us. There was quite a rush for letters and home papers.

On the 19th [of July 1864] we had a right smart rain storm. It was quite refreshing, being the first that we have had for over a month. Yesterday it was cloudy all day, raining a little by times.

If I should say now that I had written all the news that I am in possession of at this time perhaps your readers would say there must be still times in the Army of the Potomac, the soldiers having nothing to do but to go on picket, to talk and trade with the rebels. But they must remember that this little brigade is only a small part of the great army. It is more than a soldier can do to keep run of what transpires in his own brigade, without thinking about the other parts of the army, who are buried far deeper in the ground than we are. They must remember; too, that a siege is not like one of those many battles which has been fought in which only the cannon and rifle has been used, and where one side or the other must fall back and be called whipped. This is far different from the above. Here the pick and spade are the two working tools of the soldier until the commanding General is satisfied that the enemy are in his power. Then the curtain is lifted and the work goes on with a little more life.— Just let your readers look back even to the siege of Vicksburg, and think how long they had to wait for the good news, and how many papers they brought before they saw in large letters the words “Unconditional surrender!” They will agree with me that they waited some time for the fall of Vicksburg, and they must do the same for that of Petersburg, which is as strongly fortified as the above place. We shall not mention Richmond until the job is done.— We see by the papers that old Co. G is once more ready for the front. It is just what we want to make this thing complete—a large number of 100 days’ men to give the veterans of three years a resting spell. Digging, and all the privileges of the army, will be Granted them, with all the Meade they really need for health.

As the mail is about to go, I will end.

Respectfully, yours,                 SIEGE.2


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

Article Image

18640730CALGTP1C4to5 32ndMALetter


  1. SOPO Editor’s Note: Jubal Early’s raid into Maryland resulted in his Valley Army threatening Washington, D. C. in early July 1864.
  2. “Letter From Co. D, 32d Mass.” Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph. July 30, 1864, p. 1 col. 4-5
{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Reply