This letter was written by Peter C. Sears (1842-1919) of Co. D, 33rd Massachusetts Infantry. Peter was the son of Isaiah and Sarah Barrows of Rochester, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Prior to the joining the service, Peter was a teacher at the State Normal School in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where he had previously graduated. He enlisted in the 33rd Massachusetts as a corporal and rose through the ranks to captain of the company by September 1864. After the war, he married and moved to Chicago where he became a fruit and produce dealer. He died on 4 August 1919 at Chicago. He wrote the letter to his sister Amelia who was two years older.
This letter was written by Sears — then a lieutenant — shortly after the regiment’s arrival in Bridgeport, Alabama after spending nearly two months encamped in the vicinity of Catlett’s and Bristoe Stations on the Orange & Alexandria Railroad in Virginia. Prior to that they were engaged in the Battle of Gettsysburg, positioned on East Cemetery Hill and later between that and Culp’s Hill. From this latter position it helped to repel the attack of the brigades of Hays and Hoke just at dusk on the 2d of July. In this action the regiment lost 8 killed and 38 wounded.
Addressed to Miss Amelia B. Sears, New Bedford, Massachusetts
October 4, 1863
It is a chilly, windy day though the sun shines brightly. All our baggage came yesterday morning and we found our valise all right. But the bundles of tents were not to be found so we took such bundles as we liked. We have a good tent now.
When they packed up at Bristoe [Station, Virginia], I was out of camp on R.R. Guard for a Lieut. to come in for his pay. Captain packed my valise and after sending it, found one of my shirts left out so he rolled in in with the tent flies. I didn’t expect to see it again and I have not yet. I got a wool blanket in the bundle I took but I had rather have my shirt. A blanket costs $3.60 but a shirt as good as the one I lost at the Sutlers will cost 5 or 6 dollars out here. I wish you would make me another shirt and send it by mail and see what it costs. Everything is high and a prospect that we shall be on short rations but that won’t affect the officers.
We know nothing about what we are to do so we stay here and wait. Tomorrow we change camp for better ground.
There is an ambrotype-ist near hear and I intend to have a picture taken as soon as possible. You must not expect a very nice one. They only cost one or two dollars.
The railroad is here and that is all that is left of Bridgeport as it was before the war. Government and sutlers claim the whole of it now. We shall not have as much duty now as at Bristoe. They are building a bridge over the Tennessee 9River].
I have over a hundred dollars with me now and think I shall keep it as there is no certainty of our being paid again very soon. And there is a risk about sending it by mail. And I might need it so I’ll keep it.
Don’t let Theo want for his money. I shall make an allotment before next pay day.
I am well as usual.
The night we came here it began raining and continued for 24 hours. The boys sang, “O carry me back…” They felt better when the sun shown. It is fully as cold as in Virginia. The soil is darker colored than there. The trees larger — the hills higher. Not a dwelling house in sight. We don’t like this place very well and it is not probable we shall stay here very long.
We have no papers here or letters. I want you to send papers occasionally.
Service this morning. Text — “Speak unto the children, O Israel, that they go forward” — or very nearly like that. I think Chaplain [I. S. Cushman] has read A. L. Stone’s sermon.
It is about time for the mail to close so goodbye dear one, — Peter C. Sears
Lieut., Co D, 33rd Mass. Vols., Army of the Cumberland via Nashville, Tenn.