1861: David Sidney Seibert to Parents

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David S. Seibert (“taken immediately after my return from Rebeldom where I was a prisoner for 11 months.”)

This letter was written by Pvt. David S. Seibert (1841-1905) of Co. I, 15th Pennsylvania Infantry (a 3-month regiment). David was the son of Christian Seibert (181201911) and his wife Mary Ann Miller (1811-1900) of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

The regiment was mustered in on 20 April 1861. Those serving in Co. I were recruited at Bellefonte, Centre County, Pennsylvania.

The letter was written just a couple days prior to the 2 July 1861 Battle of Hoke’s Run (also known as the Battle of Falling Waters) in which the regiment participated and during which David and several other members of Company I were captured by Col. Ashby’s Cavalry.

During the battle, Confederate cavalry forces under Colonel Ashby, dressed in blue blouses, and having the general appearance of Union troops, emerged from a thick wood in the direction of Falling Waters. They rode leisurely forward and halted at a fence. The skirmishers, mistaking them for their own cavalry, obeyed the order of Colonel Ashby to “let down the fence.” No sooner was this done, than the rebel leader, followed by some forty of his men, rode into the field, surrounded the unsuspecting party, shot down the First Sergeant, and demanded the surrender of the entire body, consisting of the Second Lieutenant, John B. Hutchinson, and thirty-four men. Before they had time to fire, or hardly to comprehend their situation, David and the others found themselves in the clutches of the enemy. This occurred in the Stumpy Hollow portion of the battlefield.

Siebert also served in the 15th Pennsylvania Infantry (Co. I), 48th PA Militia, as a sutler in the 93rd PA Infantry. U. S. Signal Corps.

According to David’s own account, he spent 11 months in 3 different prisons — initially in Libby Prison and Castle Thunder in Richmond, second in New Orleans (October 1861 to February 1862), and third in Salisbury, North Carolina (February 1862 to 30 May 1862). He was released on 3 June 1862.

David later served in the U. S. Signal Corps.

TRANSCRIPTION LETTER ONE

Camp Newton near Sharpsburg, Maryland
June 30, 1861

Dear Father & Mother & All,

With pleasure I endeavor to write to you. I am confident a few lines of our camp will be read with pleasure. I concluded to let you know how we pass away our time here. After the reveille is played in the morning — which is at 5 o’clock — the roll is then called & have to drill a little or merely go through the manual and inspection of arms. Guard mounting at 9 o’clock. Drill at ten o’clock & dress parade at five o’clock P.M. That is all the drill we get now.

Our regiments are constantly moved from one place to another since we left Camp Patterson where I wrote to you, encamped three times — namely Camp Negley at Hagerstown, Camp Porter 12 miles south from Hagerstown & 12 miles from Harpers Ferry near the Potomac River, and again moved from there about 2 miles west. Nothing particular to communicate at the present. We have not had a fight but the Confederate troops are just opposite the river that is in Virginia. The Potomac is the line.

I was on picket the other night & could easy hear their drum beating. The troops at Williamsport — about 4 miles from our camp — had some kind of a brush on last Monday night. They shot over the river, fired into a Secessionist’s house and struck all to pieces (that is a cannon shot). The troops are well stationed all along.

Last Sunday forenoon we had Divine Service in our camp conducted by a Episcopal preacher. Quite a number of citizens were present then. We have a preacher in our brigade. He follows us. We will again have Divine Worship today in our camp which is a nice woods and a healthy place.

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David S. Seibert in his Signal Corps uniform (1864)

We are to get new uniforms again before long & also learn by the officers to have our discharge on the 15 of July and send back to Harrisburg. We are all well & sincerely hope these few lines will find you in the same state. I must draw to a close for this time. Please send me about 6 or 8 post stamps.

A couple of spies captured by our men are now under guard in camp here. A few men were also shot by our own men while being out on picket. It was done accidentally. On half sleep it is a dangerous thing to be on picket duty. No more for this time. Please answer this immediately for I am anxious to hear from home. Hay making is almost over here. The grain is almost fit to cut. corn looks very nice.

From your son, — D. S. Seibert

Address D.S.S., Bakersville, Washington County, Maryland, Camp Newton, Company I, 15th Regt. P.V., Care of Capt. F. W. Hess

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