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102nd Pennsylvania Infantry - Battle Content

Item LTR-9850
June 20, 1864 Jonathan Furman
Price: $425.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages, written in period ink.

Near Petersburg, Virginia
June 20, 1864

My Dear Wife,

I got a letter from you yesterday evening. The first I got from you since we left camp. I was very glad to hear from you. It done me a great deal of good. We were in an engagement day before yesterday and were under heavy fire all day yesterday. Today we are back to the rear and there is a bombardment going on. Our regiment lost about 26 men yesterday and day before, more than I thought until this morning. Sylvester Brady of “L” Company was shot dead last evening within a few steps of where I was showing your letter to Levi. He was one of our old company. There was none hurt in our company this time. God grant to spare our lives to return to our homes.

It makes a person feel very bad when they can’t see but a slim chance of escaping or don’t know what instant they be called to meet their God. This is true at home, but we can realize here more forcibly than we could at home. Truly, there is divine direction of these things. And we will not fall without his will and in this we should always try to be reconciled.

Well, I must answer your questions. First, I have been in three charges. The first very hot but of short duration, not more than two or three hours. At Cold Harbor, we were under fire four days and nights or longer. Sometimes quite heavy but most of the time were middling, well sheltered here. We have been under fire a day and a half and this morning are still exposed to shells. None can tell what a day or an hour may bring forth. But I feel that my times are in God’s hands and pray for a firmer trust and stronger faith in him.

I received a good deal of comfort the other day in reading the 34th Psalm what promises there are to those who live right. Doty is still with me. Levi and J. Farnsworth is still with us and well and we with them. I wrote to you and sent with Judson twice. We have had in general enough to eat. But was pretty hard up once. Had no fresh bread. Just hard tacks, meat coffee, sugar and sometimes beans and pickled cabbage and twice whiskey was issued to the regiment. We have done a great deal of very hard marching several times a day and night. It’s pretty tough but I fear most all must try it on. We have come through as much nearly since we came as was common for a regiment in a year at the beginning of the war. Aaron Litermeyton is sick. We have just received papers giving an account officially. It is said of the capture of Petersburg, which we are now. N*****s charging gallantly and they were on our right and broke and ran. Seen it, what awful lies.

I suppose it will cheer up the people some place but Petersburg is not yet ours. Was within a short distance of it yesterday, all day. And they sent plenty of lead and grape out our way. I believe our artillery could burn the city at any time. As I know they are in good range of it. What you said about M. W. is very true. He seems like a pretty fine fellow. I know he is in the drum corps and one of his regiment that I am well acquainted with, told me that he hadn’t been in much danger for a long time. I guess nearly two years. They stay back to the rear of danger. But I understand General Grant has ordered them to act as stretcher bearers in time of fight, which is very dangerous.

What is that aunt’s name that is out there. As yet, I haven’t got any of my clothes cut with balls and I hope and pray that God will continue to exercise his protecting care over me. And do you continue to, as the same. I have had a heap of trouble since I left home. But I trust for deliverance and hope for it in this present life. I have learned a great deal by my experience and God knows it likely was necessary to my future welfare. And if so, we shouldn’t murmur at anything that we may be called to pass through in this life but pray that our afflictions suffice to bring us near to our Savior and thus delivered.

I have had tolerably good health thus far. Many are worn out and sick but the most of us are middling well. I want to write all I can to you but can’t from thinking about what to write.

The firing has gotten a good deal quiet again. Oh, but I wish that this war would come to an end. I sometimes think it will never be bought out.

We haven’t got to see or hear from S. Mummaw for several days. I guess Jim Bush is sick or was. We could send you a secesh gray back without much trouble. Our men destroyed some one and half million rations for Lee’s Army. And a train load of stuff for sick and wounded soldiers. I saw some of the men that done it but the capture of Petersburg beats all lying. We hold a good deal of their ground and to my idea hold a pretty good position.

Well, I will close for the present and get my dinner, the company dinner. And I think I will write a little more. We don’t know when we can have a chance to start a letter. Must write it and have it ready to start at any time. And then may keep it a day or so. I will send you a stamp (rebel) that I found on the field where we charged the rebs off. A person can pick up most anything these places. Well, I will close for the present.

Remaining your affectionate husband and friend,

J. W. Furman

There was a n****r hung near here today for committing rape.

My love to you all,

J. W. Furman

Olivia, Virginia and Georgie