The Civil War This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

Custom User Avatar
More by this author
June 30th, 1863:

It was the greatest dream of the entire battle, it was of her. She was beautiful, but sad waiting, wishing, and hoping that soon her boyfriend would be home. She was reading my letters, my letters that I wrote every night of the war. I hope she enjoys them, because if it wasn't for her I would never be here. I must protect her and the Union from the Rebs because if I don't I will never be able to prove my honor. The horrible sound of the bugle abruptly woke me up from that dream. It was a sound that I have become accustomed to. I and the entire 111th New York knew that today would be another five to eight mile trudge just like the past seventeen days. Those were worst days of my entire life walking in 60 and 70 degree weather until my legs stopped moving. At least the fighting was exhilarating and Colonel George Willard says that a battle should begin soon. Rumors say that John Buford's division has already seen a Brigade of Confederates outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

It has been over year since I enlisted back in April 1862, and my brother and I have made it this far. I am proud of my little brother he has been a great sharpshooter, he always finds them Johnnies. He has served this army, for two reasons, to honor our father who died after he fought in the Mexican War, and he is also fighting for the men out their who must work the fields everyday. Today we marched side by side for 6 miles until we took our first break of the day. We started at 7am and its now 2pm, we only stop to have a little bit to eat and to fill our canteens with more water. Its hard to eat now, our brigade is running low on rations and I'm not sure how long they will last. Soon we will be with the entire Army of the Potomac, and we will not have to worry about rations. The damn bugle just went off again that means we are about to move again. I must go find my brother before we get into a formation.

It's ten pm and we had just finished our ten mile trudge. It was the hardest and longest march we have ever had. It is so tiring because we walk in pants and coats in seventy degree weather, and we have to carry thirty pound packs with us. Dinner was not so great but it does its job. We are just about five miles outside of Gettysburg. I must write a letter now before I go to sleep.

Dear Father,

It has been just about one year since I enrolled in this army. I have memorized my regiments duties, bugle calls, and the formations in which we fight. We have a large regiment of 1000 men. I struggled in the beginning to make friends but after a couple of battles I met a nice group of men. I feel confident that our great regiment will win this next battle for the Army. Our officer in command is Colonel George Willard, he says that he remembered you in the Mexican War. He says you were a great man, soldier, and most importantly you always cared for the men and your family. I promise that I will fight like you, fight for the honor of my family, my Army, and my own. I am also fighting for the slaves. I feel as though President Lincoln's decision to create the Emancipation Proclamation was bad. He not only abused his power but he also angered many of the Confederate slave owners. Father, I miss you so much and I know that you wont be able to see this letter up there, but I hope you are watching me write it now. I need your protection and your approval because without it I will never be able to fight like you. I love you dad, and do not forget it.
Love,
Thomas

July 1, 1863:

This morning there were to many orders and rumors going around to stay focused. Colonel Willard was telling us to get into a marching formation but everybody was gossiping about Buford holding off an entire division of Confederates. I'm not sure if its true or not but today Colonel Willard struggled to get us into formation. After an hour of Willard's orders I decided to help him by getting my friends into formation and hoping that everyone else would follow. Lucky for me, they did and Willard thanked me and said that when we reach Gettysburg he would thank me by introducing me to Major General Win S. Hancock. The entire Army of the Potomac and the entire Army of the Confederates know that Hancock is the best General we have. I am so honored to have the opportunity to meet the Second Corps' General in command. Today's march was not as bad as yesterdays we only walked 6 miles to the coastline of Gettysburg in the temperature of about mid-seventies. At dinner everyone was dancing and singing because Colonel Willard confirmed that Buford held off an entire division along with the help of Reynolds' first division. That was our first win at the Battle of Gettysburg. My body began to shake and become alive because I knew that soon we would be on the battle front. The song the band played for our victory was The Battle Hymn of the Republic. I love that song so much my favorite line is “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord”. It reminds me of home and going to church on sundays. I used to pray every night for my father when he was fighting, and now I pray for my mother, brother, and my girlfriend: Catherine. I'm off to bed now, I want a good rest, there might be fighting tomorrow.


July 2, 1863:

We woke up early today. At 5am the bugle went off and Colonel Willard was blasting orders to everyone. Today was different, there was a sense of urgency going around, the only other time we woke up a 5am was when we had to move on the double because we were needed for back up. Today we once again had to move on the double because General Meade was worried that we may be attacked today. That was one tough 3 mile run. When we reached the Union army it was quiet it was around 7am and most of the other divisions had reached Gettysburg the night before so they were still sleeping. At 8am the bugle call went off and the entire Army seemed to come alive at once. General Meade was at the headquarters having a meeting with all the Generals. When Colonel Willard received his commands he relayed them to our brigade. He told us that today we would be back up because we had an early morning but he said that today there would be plenty to watch. I wasn't exactly sure what he meant by “there would be plenty to watch” but I did know that we may be needed for backup. I couldn't rest all day I was waiting for our brigade to be called for but the bugle never sounded. I prayed for the men that were fighting today because I know how it feels to be shooting at men just like you. It troubles me to think that we couldn't have settled this another way because I know that there are some men in these two armies that are friends. I happen to know that Major General Hancock is the best friend of the Confederate's Brigadier General Lew Armistead. At around four o'clock I heard the first battery go off. I heard talk that Major General Sickles pushed his men forward onto flat ground and that Lieutenant General Longstreet of the Confederate's observed his move and decided to attack. They fought for a good hour and a half and during this time General Meade sent the Fifth Corps to guard the armies flank. After Longstreet's men obliterated Sickles and his men, they tried to take Little Round Top but they were halted by the Fifth Corps. Rumors were going around that the 20th Maine led by Colonel Chamberlain were the end of the flank and they won the Battle of Little Round Top by refusing the Confederates and by running down the hill with bayonets. If that is true those men are the bravest men I have ever heard of. Dinner, was amazing the entire Army of the Potomac was dancing, singing and drinking. It was the most fun I had ever had since I enlisted a year ago. General Meade gave a speech explaining that we could win the entire war if we won the battle tomorrow. I must go to bed now because I need a good nights rest before a large battle.
July 3, 1863:

It was the most exhilarating day of my entire life. I have never been so scared and so excited at once. My regiment was the front line against an entire Corps. It was Longstreet's again but this time we had a huge advantage. They had to walk about 100 yards in an open field were we could fire as much as we wanted until they all retreated or died. I remember seeing them walk in a mile long line coming out of the trees. We open fired like wild men. We shot rounds and rounds of bullets you could see men falling down like trees. The batteries were like bowling balls taking out 20 people at a time. I shot down five people in a couple of minutes. I felt really bad killing other people but on the other hand they were shooting at me. The stone wall in front of us was great protection the confederate bullets would hit the wall and just stop. We had very little casualties because of our protection. My brother was once again an amazing sharpshooter and he shot down one of the Confederate's Brigadier Generals. I believe it was Richard Garnett. If my father was here I could tell him that after all this fighting we finally did it. We finally won an enormous battle. It was windy all day during that fight and the smell of rotting men made me feel sick. I didn't care after a while because I was one of the men that won the Battle of Gettysburg for our Army and our Union. I must write a letter to Catherine.

Dear Catherine,

I want to tell you that I survived the toughest battle of the war. We were on top of cemetery ridge while the confederates had their last charge. They were brave but we were braver. They were strong but we were stronger. We prevailed to save the Union. I fought for you, my father's honor, my country and myself. I feel as though I fulfilled my expectations and I am so happy I joined the army. I apologize for the anxiety I have given you and I promise that I will make it home to you. I also want to tell you that I miss you so much and I will be home soon! I have won this battle for the Union and for you, and of course the slaves. Today was so frightening seeing all of those Rebs walking out of the trees. It saddens me to walk the fields after a battle because I see blood everywhere and the stench is horrifying. I must go to bed now I will write soon. It's raining now so I must get under a tent quick.
Love,
Thomas
April 9, 1865
Today was amazing. After pushing the Confederates back for two years General Lee decided to surrender. It was at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia where Lee surrendered. Colonel Chamberlain was given the honor of receiving the sword of Lee. I have never seen so many sad faces in one place. Every single person in the Confederate Army was upset because not only had they lost the war but they also had to rejoin the Union. I must write my last and final letter home before I resign from the army. Three years in the army is truly too long. Although I am resigning , if my friends, my family or my country are ever in danger again I will be ready to serve as a soldier in the Army of The United States of America.

Dear Catherine,

It's over, my friends and I did it. We pushed the Confederate's too far and they were forced to surrender. It was beautiful when Chamberlain received Lee's sword as a symbol of piece. I wish I was given that opportunity but I am only corporal. I forgot to tell you the Major General Hancock recognized my fighting abilities and my leadership qualities so he promoted me. I am finally coming home to see you. I should be home in a week. How is everything? Is Mr. Robinson still willing to give me my job back as his butcher? Tell him I will be a great hunter now with all of my experience from the war. I must go celebrate and drink with my friends see you soon. I can not wait to see your beautiful face and hear your peaceful voice.
Love,
Thomas





Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

LukeM said...
Jun. 2, 2010 at 6:51 pm
Why did Thomas address a letter to his father when he died in the mexican war, years previous?
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback