A letter to home from a Union soldier

B. Nash as Union soldier. Replica case courtesy of Rick Brown (HistoryBuff.com)

B. Nash as Union soldier. Replica case courtesy of Rick Brown (HistoryBuff.com)



The following letter from Union soldier E. F. Smith is a rare treat. Naturally, it would not be found in any history book that I’m aware of.  An ancestor of Smith provided me with a copy of the letter which has been transcribed from the original. She gave me permission to post the letter here at AbesBlogCabin.org. Please be aware that in doing so, the letter is exactly reproduced as it was-with grammar errors intact. In reading the letter, one gets a real flavor of what it was like to be a soldier in the war. I will let the letter speak for itself:

Camp of the 2nd O.V.C.

before Petersburg VA

Aug 1st/64


Dear Parents

I recd a letter from Silvia the other day and have not had time to answer it Since we left Light house point one week ago and moved up here on the left of the line to be ready in case the rebs should try to flank us on our left we had some heavy fighting day before yesterday we assaulted their works and Succeeded in blowing up one of their forts and took 1 line of breast works held them until morning and then fell back into their old works you get a correc account of in the papers

grant had been digging under one of there forts for about 2 weeks and had five tins of powder in it and had it all ready to touch off and when this first gun fired they touched a match to it and in about 20 seconds up she went burying about 200 of the 16th georgis regt alive and killing a large number of them besides blowing up 18 Siege guns  it could be seen by over 1 000,000 of our men and as Soon as they Saw it they gave a yell Such as was never heard before and charged over their works taking one line and holding it until order to fall back   the cavalry did not get engaged   they did not think best to floud no they came down and Saw our Skirmish here and then went back   you get a more current account of it in the papers than I can give you

when they blew up that fort it was very early in the morning and the rebs had not got up yet   one of them was thrown over into our lines with nothing but his shirt and drawers on   our negroes charged on them without a bayonet on or a gun loaded and had to fall back in great disorder    it is very warm here but the troops are in good spirits and ready to go for them any time

We are drawing 7 days rations and I expect it is for another raid   it may not be   we do not know one minute from the next what it is for   it may be for nothing   I am able to eat my regular rations yet and Sometimes a little more

I wrote to Leander but have not got any answer yet

Lieut Hambin has Started back for the regt

write soon

E.F. Smith

Co H 2nd O.V.C.

1st Brigade

3rd division

Cavalry Corps army of the Potomac  

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