This letter was written by a member of old Co. I, 49th Pennsylvania Infantry — probably a private — who resided in Juniata County, Pennsylvania — possibly in the village of Perrysville (now Port Royal). Unfortunately there are a large number of soldiers from Juniata County who were members of that unit and it would take some time to narrow down the possibilities given the relatively few clues offered by the letter, which is unsigned and without an envelope. The fact that it is addressed to “Mother & Sisters” suggests that the author may have been the only surviving male member of the household.
I thought at first the author might’ve been David Bossert (see attached story) but the members of his parents household do not fit the profile I alluded to.
Camp Griffin [near Lewinsville, Virginia]
December 2d 1861
Dear Mother & Sisters,
I received your letter on Saturday evening after you sent it. I was glad to hear that you were well & that you received the money safely. We are all well at present, hoping that our health & yours may continue to be good.
The weather has become very rough and cold. We will soon begin to realize the hardship of soldiering in winter as I see no signs of winter quarters yet. I had a severe chill yesterday afternoon & last night. Today I have remained in my quarters all day. The rest of the boys have been out on drill again. Tomorrow I will be all right again. Many a day at home I have worked when I felt worse that I do today but here we don’t work unless we feel right well.
I am writing this lying down. You must excuse if it is poorly written.
I haven’t seen Jim since Friday he was here. Anything you want to send to him, put it in that box of mittens that you are a going to send with his name on each article or bundle in care of me & then there will be no mistake.
You wanted to know how to settle with L. L. Logan. ¹ If he gives you the order to one of the stores in town — say Jim’s or [Jonathan Black] Okesen’s — you might as well take it. It will be as good as money in one respect — you can take that much money and pay the tax. He told me he would pay the tax if he could get the money but I suppose he didn’t try much to get it. I did promise to take a good part of the price off his work in trade — such as coffee & sugar — but he never got any. Consequently, I could not take it. But I think I done pretty well after all in taking trade as I took all but the balance — whatever it is. But take the order & say no more about it. Your easiest plan is just to pay the tax all off in money & be independent. No person can bring a charge against your property for tax. I always paid it — every cent. That is what we sent you the money for; to pay that & keep yourselves, knowing that you would use it wisely.
Mother, keep one of those gold pieces in place of the two & a half piece I got from you once, & never could get it to give back. At present, we have $30.00 coming to us. Next pay day will be in January.
I am glad to hear that your hog does so well. I would love to go home to kill it for you but that is out of the question. I have no idea of getting home soon. Please tell Beckie I don’t like to tell most ____ what she wrote. We all have to live together here in a very small place & thus far mess No. 7 has the name of the best & most agreeable mess in the company and we plan to remain so. He would not get mad for he is better humored than Kate. But of course he would feel bad. We get along with Mast very well. We have got use to his foolishness.
I wrote a letter to Nancy last week. I suppose she has got it by this time. I received one from Dr. Hars yesterday evening.
We are going to try to fix our tent to make more room by building a little pen of poles & putting the tent on the top. We want to make a fireplace in it. The worst thing with us in when we get cold, we have no place to warm except at the fire & there is always more than can get round it. ²
I will close for this time as I have nothing of much importance to write. The interest Mr. [John R.] Linn takes is not on account of Lizzie & I corresponding. He took that interest before I left home. I have only written her three letters. She is quite a lady in my opinion. ³
The Ladies of Juniata or of Perryville & [Juniata] Valley rather deserve great credit for the interest they are taking in our company.
¹ Lemuel L. Logan (b. abt 1836) appears in the 1860 US Census in Perrysville, Juniata County, Pennsylvania. He was married to a woman named Eleanor and had a child named Carrie Genett Logan (b. 1860). Lemuel was, by trade, a tinner.
² A diary maintained by a member of the 49th Pennsylvania mentions the fact that in December, most of the men in the regiment at Camp Griffin were “fixing up quarters for winter.” He said they were “building up with logs or poles about four feet high, plastered with mud on the outside, tents raised on top for roofs; fire place in one end, bunks in the other end.” [Entry 10 December 1861]
² Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) M. Linn was the 20 year-old daughter of Perrysville merchant, John R. Linn (b. 1817) and his wife Margaret.