Sunday, January 17, 2010

Letter from a local Civil War soldier

This is an exact transcript from a handwritten letter that my son and I transcribed from our local historical society. Misspellings and grammar remain true to the original text. I particularly enjoyed Charles Personius's telling of the events concerning Fredericksburg. The period voice of these boys has long enchanted me.

Harpers Ferry [illegible]
Dear Parents
I will write a few
lines to you to let you know that we are
all enjoying good health and I hope it
is the same with you. To day I was
quite disappointed for I thought that you dear
Father and Ella would certainly be here
to visit us but I am sadly disappointed
but we are often subject to disappointment
in this world but I still think they
will be here tomorrow or the first of next
week It cant be possible that you have
given up the visit entirely for I think
that you must want to see us bad enough
to take one days journey if it took a
week or two to come here it would be quite
different but it is only a little over one
days ride so don’t dispair and disappoint
your sons in the Army The Army has suffered
greatly at Fredricksburgh for our loss
there is estimated to be about 13500 wh
while the Rebel loss is far less for they
had a great advantage over our forces for
they were strongly fortified and our forces
had nothing to shelter themselves with

There is a report in circulation that
little Mc is to resume command of the grand
Army again but I think it is untrue
for I don’t think that he would be foolish
enough to accept the position again even if it
was offered to him for he has been greatly
and grossly abused when he was not to blame

Yesterd[ay] our company took
up the bridge across the shenandoah river
for fear that the Rebs might come in but
I apprehend no great danger from that
but it was Gen [illegible]’s order and all
sup orders must be obeyed that come from
superiors In handling a bridge there is a
great deal of order about it The company is
divided of into squad of son so many into each
squad some are lashers some chess men and
some balk carriers and siderail carriers and
boatmen and so on each has his own part of
the work to perform and does no other

The new suspension bridge across
the Shenandoah is nearly completed
I can not think of much more to write
about and probably have written as much
as you will care about reading so
I will bid you good night and
peaceful dreams no more at present this
from your son Charles W Personius


  1. That is just awesome, Kathy! It is an amazing thing to read a small slice of another time.

  2. thanks, Diane. : ) I have one more from this young Elmira man, and it is the best yet. I'll post it next week, perhaps.

  3. Amazing! I find myself wondering where exactly the writer was and what he looked like and what his surroundings were like. Fascinating!

  4. Kathleen, I always love to read original material and thoroughly enjoyed reading this young man's epistle. His yearning to see his loved ones is so poignant that even now it grieves my heart for his sake. I hope they made that one day's journey into Hell to see the dear boy.

  5. Thanks, Ladies. I'll see if i can find a picture of Charles Personius and post it here.
    : ) good suggestion, Sharon.