1864: Unidentified Soldier to Sister

There is very little information within this letter that would aid in the identification of the author—not even a partial signature. From the content of the letter we can safely assume it was written by a Pennsylvania soldier and probably in the year 1864. A search of Pennsylvania regiments encamped near Portsmouth, Virginia, in August 1864 might help narrow down the soldier’s unit. Presumably the soldier had a brother named George. Clearly he had a sister to whom he wrote the letter and a mother who is mentioned.


Camp near Portsmouth
30 August [1864]

Dear Sister,

I take my pen in hand to inform you that I am better today, I was pretty bad begin[ning] of the week. I am very week yet. I don’t think you would know me if you would see me. I did weigh a hundred and sixty pounds and now I weigh a hundred and thirty pounds. So you can think how much I lost since I have been sick. I am in the doctor’s [care] yet. He gives me whiskey four times a day. That does me more good than anything else. I am in the tent [yet]. They did want to take me to the hospital but I did not want to go. The boys want me for to stay in the tent. I have a good bed and the boys get me anything I want. If I had no money, I don’t know what I would do, but I have money yet.

I don’t think they will draft in Pennsylvania. They have plenty of soldiers now. They have the rebels in a pickle now and they will give them hell now, I think.

I received your letter today and was glad to hear from home. Tell mother that she need not worry for I am on the mend. But I am under the doctor’s care now.

Tell George that he need not be afraid. They won’t draft. They are getting plenty of men. I want you to send me a box when we get paid next I will get you directions where to send it to, I want some shirts and some drawers and some other things. We will get paid before long again.

I must bring my letter to a close. Goodbye. I hope that I will be better when I write again. I am as poor as a snake now. It would not due for to take my likeness now. I am to poor now. Send me some postage stamps and I will pay for them next time.

I send my love to all. Goodby to all. No more at present. Write soon.

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