I have not been able to determine the identity of this Union soldier who wrote from Falmouth, Virginia in April 1863 just weeks before he was to discharged. My presumption is that he was a member of one of the numerous nine-month regiments activated during the fall of 1862 from Pennsylvania. The letter was written a couple of weeks prior to the Battle of Chancellorsville — no doubt the future “big fight” that the author referred to.
I believe he wrote the letter to John Simon (1839-18xx), the son of Christian Simon of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Addressed to Mr. John Simon, Mount Joy P. O., Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania
Camp near Stoneman’s Station, [Falmouth] Virginia
April the 16th 1863
I have made up my mind to let you know that I am still in good health and I hope that these few lines may find you in the same state of good health. And further, I let you know that I am beginning to think that all my friends have forgot me at home for I don’t get to hear anything nor any letters — but from my brother I got one sometime. I have wrote several letters but no answer from no one. But I don’t care if they don’t care about me. Why, it is no difference if I can’t live with them. I can go to the army again and stay there. Then I have no trouble to go again.
And further, I will let you know that we have marching orders this evening or the few last days but the weather did not agree with it yet and we will get into a big battle if we get off one of these days. But let them do as they please for that they will do at any rate. And further we heard this [morning] that the rebels are trying to cross the river. But our men are ready for them if they try that and they [will] find it to be the warmest work that they ever undertook if they mean to drive us from this place, let me tell you that.
I am stronger for the Union now than I had been when I was at home and I mean to be so hereafter and if I get home and don’t get in something that places me good, I will go for to defend my country. And another thing — I wish that they would make another draft and fetch those men out that are in favor of the South and those Copperheads. But let them go on till the two-year and the nine-month men get home. I will are dare say that they will have to take them copper buttons off then or they will have them knocked off and a little more than the buttons. Some of the Secesh faces to you may look for some of such fellows being hurt or they must keep quiet [and] not make the boast to the fellow county soldiers.
I let you know that I am still at the hospital and will stay till our time is expired. So I will come to a close for this evening. I don’t ask you to write an answer to this letter for I don’t think that I would get it so give my dear Anna my best respects and tell her that before your get this letter, we expect to have been in a big fight and we mean to come home in a short time if we don’t get killed. So I bid you all goodbye for this time.
Your friend, — E. H. Niles