1862: Unidentified Soldier to Mother

This unsigned letter was written by a Union soldier posted on Bolivar Heights overlooking Harpers Ferry, Virginia, in late November 1862. It appears that he served in the “Old 12th,” not otherwise identified. We know from the content that the soldier’s parents were still living, his grandmother, and his sister Charlotte.


Camp on Bolivar Heights
November 26, 1862

Dear Ma,

I now sit down to answer your letter that I got night before last. I was glad to [hear] from you as it had been a long time since I had heard from you. I was glad to hear that you was trying to get my discharge. I hope you will succeed in doing so but I am afraid you will not. You wanted to know how I knew that you could get and I will now tell you. There is a fellow enlisted in the Old 12th in the same way that I did and he told me that that was the way that he got his discharge. And he told me that you [could] get me home in the same way and I hope you can. I don’t care what it costs if I can get home. I will work from morning till night to pay the bill. Tell Pa to do his best to do it and I will be ever faithful and true to you and him.

I was glad to get that money that you sent me. I want you to send me a newspaper every once a week without fail. I got that paper that you sent me and I got one before that that you sent me. Tell Charlotte that I want her to write to me right away. She has not wrote to me since I have been in the army, nor I to her, but tell her not to wait for me for I am so busy that I can hardly get time [to] write home. I now go out on skirmish drill so you can see how much time I have to write to anybody.

I am well and hearty as ever. Tell Grandma that I wish that I had heard [listened] to her when I was at home. But the way of the transgressions is hard and I am now fast and in the army of the North. If you don’t get me away from this, I want you to send me a box. It won’t cost much to send it here. You can take it to the Express Office and direct it to Harper’s Ferry and it will come to the regiment. Send me some butter and some preserves and put in some apples and put my mittens in the box when you send them. Have Grandma and Charlotte put in some things for me. Tell them that I will do as much for them if I ever get back home again. If I can get home, I will make up lost time and I want you to send me some cider. Put it in oyster cans and solder them up. I must now stop writing so goodbye.

Direct as before.

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