This letter was written by Jordan H. Lear (1841-1918), the son of Mahlon Calfe Lear (1820-1889) and Sarah Elizabeth Hillpot (1821-1841). Jordan wrote the letter to his uncle, Isaac Lear (1832-1912) of Tinicum Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Jordan served as a private in Co. I, 198th Pennsylvania Infantry from 13 September 1864 to 4 June 1865. He wrote this letter a few days after the Battle of Hatcher’s Run where he told his uncle the bullets flew “as thick as hail.”
Addressed to Mr. Isaac Lear, Erwinna Post Office, Bucks County, Pa.
Camp at Hatcher’s Run, Virginia
February 12th 1865
I have taken the pleasure once more to let you know that I am not very well at present but hoping that those few lines may find you all in a state of better health.
We left our camp on Sunday, 5th of February, and captured a line of rebel pickets at Gravelly Run and that night we fell back to Hatcher Run where we had the fight on Monday. We got into the fight about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The rebels drove the Second Brigade in our corps three times across an open field and then we was called up to relieve them which we did with pleasure. But our brigade drove them but I can tell you my, my friends the balls flew as thick as hail. Our adjutant’s horse was shot out from under him as soon as we went in. Col. [Horatio G.] Sickel had a narrow escape. One ball passed through his pants leg and another through the saddle which he sat upon. ¹ But he sang out to us with a cheerful voice, “Go in boys and give them hell.” The amount of cartridges that I used up was fifty rounds.
I haven’t closed my eyes now for the seventh night and not that alone. We have no blankets nor nothing to lay on since we left our old camp. That is soldiering for you. But all that I hope [is] that I may have good luck [until] my time [is] out and I shall never soldier again as long as I live. I have seen harder times since I have been out this last time than I did the first. Our loss was about five thousand killed and wounded.
So my friends, I must close for the present. Till I hear from home, yours respectfully.
— Jordan H. Lear
Direct your letter to Company I, 198th Reg. Pa. Vol., First Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps, Washington D. C.
[P.S.] Tell my father to send me those 10 dollars as soon as he can.
¹ In the Battle of Hatcher’s Run fought on 6 February 1865, Col. Sickel received a painful flesh wound in his left thigh which bothered him for the rest of his life.