The 7th Indiana Regiment moved with the Army of the Potomac in the spring of 1864, being engaged at the battles of the Wilderness, Laurel hill, Spottsylvania, Po river, North Anna river, Bethesda Church and Cold Harbor, being under fire for eighteen days during these engagements and losing heavily. On June 16, it moved to the front of Petersburg, and participated in the assault of the 17th. It remained on duty in the siege of Petersburg until Aug. 18, and was then engaged at the Weldon railroad where Dory was taken prisoner.
Unfortunately, once again, there are few letters in 1864 that describe any of these engagements. Most all of the letters from 1864 were written by Dory and Morty from their winter quarters in Culpeper county, north of the Rapidan river. There a couple letters from in front of Petersburg.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FORTY-FOUR
[Near Culpeper, Virginia]
[Undated, probably January 3, 1864]
Dear Ma & Pa,
As Dory has been writing to you, I will just enclose a few lines too. But as usual this evening finds me well but still a soldier and far from home and among strangers. This is Sunday evening & my mind wanders back to days when I was at home enjoying all the comforts that a boy could wish but was not satisfied. I could not appreciate the comforts of a home. I can say for myself that I have great reasons to be thankful to my parents for my very existence. The first is I have been taught to know good from bad & to shun evil temptations for I see the good of a firm friend. To shun evil this is the place to try one’s firmness. We are surrounded with many evils which are innocent in their intentions but if I should give way to them, they would always be thorns in my flesh. I have not swore an oath nor gambled since I come into the army. I have not yet lost sight of that great Comforter who through His kind providence, I have been spared to this time & the comforts that I have enjoyed in days past. I wish that I could be there to join with my dear parents in their Heaven Bound course. Go in dear Pa & Ma. I am determined if God spares me to come home, to join hands with you and with double energy set out to win the prize that is in store for those that live faithful. I still request your prayers in our behalf for this life is a tricky one.
I have nothing of interest to write you but that we are well and enjoying ourselves finely in our new house. The weather is very cold. I would like to have been there to [have] spent Christmas with you. One of our boys started home yesterday on a furlough. I may get to come home before spring. Had I come or stay? You must excuse this poor letter letter for I have wrote some of the same that Dory has for I did not read his letter.
Tis so cold I will have to stop writing. My love to all as ever until death. — M. S. Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FORTY-FIVE
Near Culpeper, Virginia
January 4, 1864
I got a letter from you two or three days ago. We was very [happy] to hear from you and that you was well and getting along so well. I would have answered it before but the next morning after it arrived, I had to go on picket. It has been snowing all day. It is about two inches deep now.
I will try to write a few lines to you to let you know that we are well and the best of spirits. I expect you would like to know how we enjoyed ourselves on Christmas & New Years. I believe I wrote a letter to you between Christmas and New Years. There was nothing of importance going on here on New Years. I wish I could of been there. I think I could of had a good time. You was saying that you had such a nice oyster supper at Frank’s when you was in to Aurora. We have oyster suppers here often. We can get plenty of them at the sutlers but we have to pay very high for them. We have to pay from $1.50 to $2.00 a can for oysters and everything accordingly that we get off the sutlers.
I will just give you a few items of the things that the sutlers have to sell. We have to pay 50 cents per pound for butter, 40 cents per pound for cheese, 50 cents a dozen for eggs, 4 small apples for 25 cents. This is the way they impose upon the soldiers. It is not often that we buy off them. Sometimes we get something for a change.
I got a letter from Charlie [Stevens] this morning. He said that they was all well. You said in your letter that you was afraid that we had not men enough here to keep the rebs from coming in upon us. You need not fear of that. We have got about 75,000 men and still getting more every day. The rebs can’t make a move without we know it. They will not make any more moves this winter for they are all in winter quarters on the south of the Rapidan [river].
There was 60 negroes deserted the rebs and come to our pickets two or three days ago. They said that they could not get enough to eat when they was with them. I don’t know what the people of the South will live on this winter. They can’t get out of just two or three states to get anything to eat. They certainly can’t hold out much longer. Just think of it, how could the United States support all of her armies with four or five pieces of states as the South has to do. I think that the war will come to a close next summer. I hope all of the hardest of the fighting is over.
I sent a book to you by Lieut. Williams some time ago and told him to leave it at Hugh Espie’s [grocery] store in Rising Sun. When you write again, please tell me if you got it or not.
We got the papers & envelopes that you sent to us. We are very much obliged to you for it. We have to pay so much for everything that we buy here. We also got the stamps you sent.
I hardly know what to write to interest you. There is nothing of importance going on here. I will write again soon. Perhaps I will have more to write the next time.
We have got another very nice little house done. I hope we will get to stay here all winter. I will have to make my letter short for this time. I have got two or three to write tonight to Aurora. I was sorry to hear that Aunt Mary is not much better. I hope she will soon get well. I will quit for the present. Perhaps Morty will want to write a few lines in the morning. Please excuse my poor writing and please write soon. We are as ever your affectionate sons, — M. S. & T. Longwood
Tuesday morning the 5th
It is almost time for the mail to start out. Morty has not got time to write so I will just send it. We join in sending our love to all. I wish you would please send us a few stamps when you write again for we can’t get any here and oblige your little boy, Dora. He only weighs 180 pounds. — T. L.
I have got one more request to make to Ma. That is for her to go to Aurora as soon as possible and order a set of new teeth and I will pay for them. I don’t want her to forget it. I want you to have a set if it costs $100. I am willing to pay it. I would rather take my money for your benefit than to have it on interest. Please tell me in the next letter if you will get them or not. Be sure to not say you don’t want to spend money for them. I don’t want that to prevent you from getting them. I could not be better pleased than to pay for them. Mort says don’t forget to get a set and he will pay for them. Oblige your little boys. — M. S. & T. Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FORTY-SIX
Near Culpeper, Virginia
January 20, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
Once more I seat myself to write a few lines to you as I have nothing to do. Mort wrote a letter to you yesterday but that makes no difference. I will try to write again. I can pass away the time better by writing than anything else. We have not much to do. We don’t have to drill so but little else than study. We read until we get tired, then we write to some of our friends. We write pretty often to you but I guess you would not care if you could get one everyday. I wish I could get one each day. I know I would not take it as an insult or get tired reading them. We got one from you a few days ago.
We told you about all of the news in the one we wrote yesterday so I am afraid I will come out of the little end of the horn with this letter but nevertheless I will gobble at some things, but as to it being interesting, I will not say. But as the old saying is, half loaf is better than no bread—even if it is nothing but a hard tack.
We will be paid off again in a few days so then you may look for another letter and some more of Uncle Sam’s green backs. We are always glad to see the paymaster although we have plenty of money. A dollar is thought no more of here than 25 cents used to at home. Pa, I would like for you to send me two or three small files by mail. Please send a small rattail file and a small half round one. We want to make some rings and other trophies out of bones. I will pay you for them when we are paid off. It will oblige me much.
It is getting late [and] I will have to close. Mort is sitting by me reading. We are both well and in good spirits. He weighs about 190 pounds and I weigh 180 pounds. You can judge by our weight that we are well. I wish I could get to see you all. We both send our love to both of you.
Theodore Longwood to his parents. Please write as soon as you receive this.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FORTY-SEVEN
Near Culpeper, Virginia
January 24, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
As Mort has been writing a letter to you and he has just finished, so I will try to write a few lines to let you know that I am still here as fat and saucy as ever. Mort has been to meeting twice today. I just come in off picket this morning at 11 o’clock so I did not have the pleasure of going to meeting with him. He has told you about all of the news so it will be useless for me to be very lengthy with my part of the letter. Since I have commenced to write, all of the folks are well. They sent it by one of Co. F that has come back to the regiment.
I have nothing interesting to write to you. I got a letter from one of the butternuts this morning. It was from Bob Bovard. ¹ He said he was going to California on the first of April. I wrote a letter to him today. I told him he would surely get killed by pirates going there. I just told him what I thought of the traitors at home.
It is getting dark so I will close for the present. We are both well and still remain yours as ever, — Theodore Longwood
¹ Robert (“Bob”) H. Bovard (1843-1923) was the son of John M. Bovard (1812-1863) and Sarah Ann Hagerman (1823-1902) of Cass, Ohio county, Indiana. Bob married Mary Elizabeth Crouch (1839-1919) of Kentucky in 1866.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FORTY-EIGHT
February 18, 1864
Dear Pa & Ma,
Last eve we received 3 letters & an almanac. One was from you and one was from George. The other from Mary Ann [Stevens]. I was very much pleased to hear that all was well. So I will endeavor to answer your letter though I have nothing of interest to write you but you but you have asked for some information which causes me to answer your letter immediately.
The answer to your request I will write on another sheet. We are just now having our cold weather. It is so cold that I can’t hardly write. The boys are busy just now cleaning up the yard and around the tent. They keep the door open most all the time coming in to warm. No matter how cold it is, we can keep comfortable in our little tent. We have a good fireplace.
I commenced writing to you yesterday but was bothered so I could not finish. Two of our boys from our company started home on furlough. They have re-enlisted. You may get to [see] them. One is Mr. [Thomas] Dodd. He lives in Switzerland county. The other is Mr. David Jones. His mother lives down below New Hope. His father died last summer. I sent my new overcoat home by him. He is to leave it with Frank [Stevens] as he goes through Aurora. He told me that he would come out and see you and tell you how we are getting along out here in Virginia. If he should come to see you, you must make much of him and he will give you a big name as him and I are good old friends. You may think strange of my sending my coat home but he has give me another one that will do as long as I will want one. I thought if I kept it until spring, I would not have a chance to send it home & I would have to throw it away & it was such a nice one, I would hate to lose it. You can get it sometime when you go to town.
Please give George my respects. Tell him I will write again soon. Also tell Rost Gould that the postage is alright. I have never had to pay any extra postage on nothing. It is alright so far as I know. Soldiers never pay any extra postage. I think them crackers I sent, I think was pretty costly bread. Mary Ann [Stevens] was much pleased to get a piece of them. I hardly know what to fill this sheet with—only that we are all enjoying ourselves very well. I will let Dory fill this while I answer your request on another scrip of paper. My love to all, dear Pa & Ma. — M. S. L.
Dear Ma & Pa,
As Mort is writing on another sheet, I will finish this. It is not worthwhile for me to be lengthy as I suppose he has given you all the news. I was very glad to get a letter from you. I will close by saying I am well, fat & saucy. I will [write] you a long letter soon. I am still yours affectionately. I got the files you sent. Thank you, — Dory Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FORTY-NINE
March 3, 1864
I have long looked for a letter from you but in vain. So I have come to the conclusion that I will fill all promises so far as I can. I must respect the space of time that has passed since I have had a scratch of a pen written by you. I sometimes think it strange that almost one year would be allowed to pass without an evidence of your remembrance of me in that way. Still I have great reasons to be thankful for the many kindnesses that we have received from your hands for which I shall always feel indebted so long as I have my being. But laying aside all small affairs, I will endeavor to tell you what we are doing and how things look as in regard to the future.
We are all quiet in our camps at present but liable to be called out at any time as the weather is quite pleasant. There has been some moving of a part of this army within the last week but for what purpose I am not able to say. But I think they have all gone back into quarters except the cavalry. They are in a reconnoissance enroute for Richmond was the last information we had from them. They are supposed to be moving toward Richmond with the determination to release them prisoners or all be captured [see Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid]. We hope for the truth of the matter. We have been expecting to move but are still allowed the privilege of enjoying our quarters. We have enough to do to keep the Old Scratch down, We have our gymnastic performance to go to on different nights in the week & we have church on Sabbath also through the week. And moreover, we have Sergeant’s School twice a week and drill s which is getting to be awful amusement for old soldiers but such composes the life of the soldier boy.
While sitting here, the report of cannon at intervals [is heard]. What it means, I can’t say certain but I suppose it is only to let the opposite side know that they are still on their guard. It may be the Rebs guns. We are only 4 or 5 miles from the Rapidan river. The time is fast approaching when something must be done to settle this great National Dispute. I think that soon we will have succeeded in driving the traitors from our side. God speed the day when we can all be allowed to enjoy the comforts of a peaceful home.
I shall have to quit writing for a few minutes till after I return from recitation which will be at 12½ o’clock. It is after 12 now.
Well now it is about one o’clock. I will try and finish this. The regiment is all out on drill. I remained in camp to draw grub. Dory is out on picket. He will be out 48 hours.
The cannon that I spoke of has kept a steady firing for 2 or 3 hours. I suppose it to be only salutes for some purpose. Perhaps a review of some part of the army as the firing seems to be inside of our lines. I have nothing of interest to write you—only that all are in good spirits. I have not had a letter from any of you for some time. the last I received was from [sister] Molly. She spoke that all were well except the little ones that were sick with fever. I hope soon to receive an answer to this that all are well. I have been very anxious to hear from there. I waited every mail with impatience. I have heard from home recently. They were all well and getting along finely. I will finish on another sheet.
I fear that I have set my mark farther ahead than I can reach to make this interesting. I should finished on the other sheet for I am at a loss to know what to fill this with as I have told you all that seems to be of interest. Do you remember little John Ake. He has volunteered and gone. Also several others of our neighborhood. They were small boys when I left home. They are now soldiers. The next thing I expect that [my nephews] Willie or Charley will be out keeping time to the music, but I would not advise either of them to volunteer this call for they are both too young—although they may feel that their patriotism would carry them through. So it will as far as respect and duty to their country is concerned, [but] a soldier must have a constitution as well as the will. There is some boys in this company that [are] only about the age of them. They cannot stand the hardships that others can although they are just as willing as those that are older. Uncle Sam has seen fit to make another call for more soldiers which will most likely be completed with the draft. It may take many whom we last expected but all for the best.
I will have to haste with this as the mail will go out soon. It is now time for dress parade. I will close after I come in from parade. You will please give my love to all of the folks and please remember this and excuse and accept a poor letter from your friend. Please write soon. Yours as ever, — M. S. Longwood
All well. Goodbye to all. Kiss the little ones for me & please answer my feeble request.
Monday noon, [March] 7th 
Dear Ma & Pa,
I did not send your letter on Saturday as you will see by this date. We are all well. We have just come in off drill. It is such a pretty day that I thought I would write a few more lines to you. I wish I could think of something important to write. There is nothing going on worth writing. I told you in the other part of my letter that our cavalry was out on a raid towards Richmond. We have heard from them. They have joined battles. They did not get in Richmond but they got within a very few miles of that city. They destroyed a good many bridges, mills, and other property which will damage the rebels to a great extent [see Kilpatrick-Dahlgren Raid].
If this pretty weather still remains a [few] days longer, I think we will hear some important news from Gen. Grant’s department. There is no sign of our moving but we are liable to move at any time. It will not be long until we will have to start on the Spring Campaign. I hope we will be successful in whatever way we will go.
The boys are having a fine time this pleasant weather. Some is playing ball, some jumping others, pitching quoits, and your little boy is writing to his much beloved parents. Mort is reading the late news of the Chronicle. He has just [been] talking to me and how we would like to see you all.
We got the bottle of liniment you sent us. We have got three bottles of (Quick Cure) that we have not opened.
Ma I wish you would send us a couple of shirts for spring. We can’t draw shirts—only some course ones that is so rough that we can’t hardly wear them in warm weather. I will send you some money as soon as we get paid again. We thank you for the kind letter that we got from you. I hope you both have good health while we are absent from home. I wish I could be there this spring to help you do your spring work. It will soon be two years since I was at home. Times passes way very fast.
Please excuse this hasty letter. Mort says that he will write to you soon but he has not time to write this time. He sends his love to all. Give our love to Aunt & Uncle and friend George. I did hate to hear of little Johnny Ake going a soldiering. I have saw a great many little boys in the army. They stand it about as well as the men do. I wish him good luck and God go with him.
Yours truly, — Dory Longwood
Dear Pa & Ma,
So Dory has just finished a letter to you, I will write a few lines and enclose in the same. I have nothing of interest to write you—only that we are well and getting along finely. This is a pleasant day, only it is cold. I will not undertake to write you a letter for I expect Dory has give you all of interest.
Everything is quiet here. Only cavalry is all coming back that went to take Richmond. One of the boys out of the Third Indiana was here in the tent last night. He was close enough to see the houses in Richmond but there was too many rebels there for them. They only lost 3 men out of the regiment.
I am very sorry to hear that friend Laura is still so sick. I never saw a stranger that I think more of than Bruce & Laura. I should feel very sorry to hear of her death/ I have only had one letter from them since they moved. I wish I could see them again. I fear that they will not enjoy their move. I am glad to hear of Aunt Mary;s getting better. I wrote her a letter a few days ago. I am happy to congratulate you over your increase of stock. I have not seem a field of wheat for so long I have forgot how one looks.
Oh, here comes one of the boys in to heckle me. While I am writing, he is putting his hands before my eyes.
Pa, you have never told me whether you have got your wagon done or not. If you have not, I wish you would let me get it fixed for you for I know your old one is almost worn out. I will try and send you money enough next time to fix it, if you will. I expect you to use my money if you need it. Remember my money comes easier to what yours does. I get my pay work or play. I sent you five dollars a few days ago for some shirts.
Well, dinner is almost ready so I will close hoping this will find you all well. Please write soon. Yours truly, — M. S. Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY
Camp 7th Indiana [Camp near Culpeper, Virginia]
March 17, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
I received your very kind letter of the 3rd. We was very glad to hear from you. There is nothing that does us more good than to get a letter from home. I have nothing of importance to write to you this morning. I have nothing to write that would be interesting to you but whether good or bad, I will try to write a few lines to let you know that we are well and in good spirits and getting along fine. We are still in our old camp near Culpeper. We are having a very good time at present.
You said you wished I could get something to do that would free me from picket. I don’t care for picket duty. I like to go on picket. It is quite a pleasure trip to go two or three miles from camp and stay two or three days. It is very tiresome to stay in camp all the time. We have to drill twice a day now. Company drill at 9 A.M. and regiment drill at 3 P.M. and dress parade in the evening. It is good exercise to drill.
We have got another bunk mate in our tent. It is Mr. [William H.] Clark, ¹ corporal of our company, He has been home on a sick furlough and when he got back to the company, he had no house built so we got him to come in and live with us. He is a very fine fellow. We have got as good a mess as there is in the company. It comprises James Tinker, Will Clark, M. S. & T. Longwood. I am not certain that you are slightly acquainted with the last two named.
I got a letter from [my brother-in-law] Will Yonge last week. All of the folks was well and getting along fine. I have wrote several letters to Aurora since we have been in this camp. [Will’s children,] Willie & Carrie has had the scarlet fever but has about got over it now.
I wish you could get to come and see us while in camp. I wish you could get to see a camp of soldiers. It would please you to go to our church and hear our chaplain preach. We have meeting every Sunday and prayer meeting twice a week. I will be sorry when we will have to leave this place.
It is rumored here that Major General Grant will take command of the Army of the Potomac in its first campaign. If he does, I hope he will have as good luck as he did in the Southwest. I hope we will be able to settle this wicked war next summer. Then we can come home and be in peace. I wish I could be there this spring to do your spring work. It would please me to be on the old farm once more but I would not be at home and be called a butternut for anything like some of the poor, cowardly dogs does. What will they ever be thought of when the soldiers come home? They will be run out of society.
Well now as it is getting late, I will close for the present. Maybe Mort will want to write a few lines. So goodbye. — Dory Longwood
¹ Corporal William H. Clark was later wounded in the fighting before Petersburg and mustered out of the regiment.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-ONE
Camp 7th Indiana [Camp near Culpeper, Virginia]
April 8, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
We received your kind letter of the 1st. I will hasten to answer it but I have nothing of importance to write to you this evening. I am quite tired this evening. We had a general inspection today. We was inspected by Gen. [James Clay] Rice. We had to have our clothes clean and boots blacked. We was highly complimented by the general. He said our company was the nicest company in the regiment. We are a going to have another inspection tomorrow to see which is the best regiment in the brigade.
I went to Culpeper today to see if my photographs was done so I could send one to you but they will not be done until Monday so I will finish this letter. Then I will have a good excuse to write again when I get the pictures. I can pass away the time so pleasantly when I am reading your letters or when I am answering them. I got a letter from Aurora a few days ago. All of the folks was well.
I wish I could get to see all of my dear friends. I do want to see you all so much. We was talking today about what a fine time we will have if we ever get home. I know we will enjoy the comforts of home if we are spared to return when we get his wicked war to a close. We will not be sorry that we enlisted to help put it down.
It will not be long until we have to go on our Spring Campaign. All of the sutlers is ordered to the rear by the 16th of this month. Perhaps we will stay here for two or three weeks yet. When we do leave, I will write and let you know.
I don’t know how to thank you enough for writing to us so often and such good letters. They make me both laugh and cry when I read them—just the kind for a soldier. I will write as often as I can whether on the march or in camp. Mort and I do more writing than any other two in the company. Nothing does me as much good as to read or write. I have done more reading this winter than I ever did in the same time.
I have nothing of importance to write to you so I will not be able to write a very lengthy letter this time. I got a letter from Aunt Mary & Uncle a few days ago. I will write to them soon. Morty will write to you soon. He is out in the company someplace this evening so he can’t write any in this letter for I will have to be in haste to put it in the office.
Give our love to all and a due portion to yourselves. And still remember your affectionate sons in Old Virginia. From — Dory Longwood
To his parents.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-TWO
Camp 7th Indiana [Camp near Culpeper, Virginia]
April 20, 1864
Dear Sister [Mary Ann Stevens],
I have just come in off picket and a better pleased boy you never saw when Mort met me at the door of our little tent and handed me two or three letters. You better believe it was not long until I had my gun and haversack put away and I took as good a position as I could find on the soft side of a three legged stool and commenced looking to find the one I would read first. But I could not see any difference for they was all interesting and from dear friends so I commenced to read the first one I got hold of. I was the lucky boy to get one from you, one from Ma, and one from Ida. Morty also got one from Frank [Stevens].
Mollie, I hardly know what to write that will be interesting to you. I never can think of anything more than to tell you where we are and what we are doing. I can tell you where we are now but I can’t tell where we will be next week for we are liable to march at any hour. It will not be long until we have to start on our Spring Campaign. We was ordered to send all of our great coats home. That is a very good sign of a forward movement.
You wanted to know if I would be discharged when the regiment is or not. I cannot tell certain yet. Our Colonel says all that come out in August ’62 will be discharged with the regiment. And if not, he says he will try to get them home and recruit the regiment. If so, we will get to come home next September if our lives are spared. I expect there will be some very hard fighting this spring and summer but we have been protected from all danger so far. I hope we will be spared until we see this wicked rebellion come to a close. I would like to see all of my friends once more. I think if we have good luck this summer, we will about settle this war. The morning report of this army gives a estimate of 108,000 men able for duty. There is about 25 or 30,000 men that is on detached duty which will only leave about 75 or 80,000 fighting men. We are being reinforced everyday by the last call. The cars is loaded with new soldiers everyday when the cars comes down from Washington.
I wish I could come there to see the Home Legion perform. I would not want any better fun than to be there when Old Morgan or some of the rebel cavalry are raiding through Indiana. I would feel perfectly safe a great deal more so than I would here where we are after Old Lee and about 150,000 of the gray backs.
I was on picket this morning on part of the battlefield of Slaughter Mountain. ¹ I could see where the trees was tore all to pieces with shot and shell and the neglected graves of a many brave soldier boy. I got a drink of water out of the same spring that our regiment got water out of at the time of the fight. While I was on picket, I drew the picture of the brick house that Gen. Pope and McDowell had their headquarters at the time of the fight. ² It is about one mile and a half north of the mountain. The battle was near the house. I will send the sketch of the house as I drew it in my day book when I get time. I will draw several of the noted places and send them to you. You can form a better idea by seeing a sketch although it is not very good.
This sheet is about full. I guess I will close. From your brother, — Dory
Please write soon and give us all the news. Tell William that we got the papers he sent us and thank him very much for them. Love to all. Please excuse my P. S.
¹ The Battle of Slaughter Mountain is more commonly referred to as the Battle of Cedar Mountain. It took place on 9 August 1862 in Culpeper county, Virginia, and was the first major clash between Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Maj. Gen. John Pope’s newly created Army of Virginia.
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-THREE
Camp 7th Indiana [near Culpeper, Virginia]
April 28, 1864
Dear Sister [Mary Ann Stevens],
I have just finished a letter to [your daughter] Ida and sent her one of my photographs. I expect you would like to know how your little brother looks since he came to be a soger boy. I will send you one of his ugly carte-de-visites. They are not as good as we could get at home but we can’t get as good an article in the army as one can that is at home. All that comes in the army as artists and sutlers comes to make money—not to accommodate the soldiers.
I have nothing of importance to write to you. All is quiet here at present. There is a rumor in camp that we will stay here and garrison Culpeper. Our division is making very large forts near our camp but I am afraid the report is too good to be true.
Part of Gen. Burnside’s Expedition went through Thoroughfare Gap yesterday. I think that there will be a forward movement soon.
Our regiment has been transferred to the 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 5th Corps. We hate to leave our old brigade very much. Gen. Cutler will be our brigade commander now. Our old commander (Gen. Rice) was very sorry to have us leave his brigade. He said that the 7th Indiana was the best regiment he had in his brigade. He always came to our prayer meetings. He would come to our regiment often and shoot at a target with the boys. He told our chaplain to come to his headquarters and preach, also to bring his regiment with him.
We got a letter from Frank a few days ago. Also one from you. We answered them last week. We also got the papers that Will sent to us.
Now Mollie, as it is getting late, I will have to be in haste. Please tell Charlie [Stevens] that I will answer his letter soon.
Joe Williamson came to our company last Sunday. He was in our company and got wounded at Port Republic and got discharged and again reenlisted. He was at our house just before he came away.
I will send two photographs in this letter. Please give one to [our sister] Sally and oblige me. Mort and I send our love to all. I still remain yours as ever, — Dory Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-FOUR
Camp 7th Indiana [near Culpeper, Virginia]
April 28, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
I have just finished a letter to Ida [Stevens] so thought I would write a few lines to you to let you know that we are still well and in good spirits and getting along fine. I hardly know what to write that will interest you. We got your letter of the 22nd. We was very glad to hear from you. We are always glad to hear from home. I can’t thank you too much for writing so often to us. We get a letter every week from you—sometimes more. We are always sorry when the mail does not bring anything for us.
I got a letter from Aurora a few days ago. All was well. They was telling me the good joke that they played on you a writing to you. Each of them sent a separate one.
Joe Williamson got to the company last Sunday. He is well and getting along fine. He is a tenting with us now. I was very glad to see him. I got my photographs from Washington last evening. I sent one to Ida [Stevens], one to [her mother] Mary Ann, [and] also one to [my sister] Sally. Now it is my time to send one to my dear Ma & Pa so I will send one to you in this letter. I want to know if you can see any difference now than when I was at home. I have got a nice album to put your pictures in. I hope it will not be long before we can come home so we can see the original without the pictures.
There is a rumor in camp that we will stay here and garrison Culpeper. Our division is building very large forts near our camp. We would have a good time if we could get to stay here until our time is out. We will know for certain about it by the time I write another letter. Part of Gen. Burnside’s expedition went through Thoroughfare Gap yesterday. I think that there will be a forward movement soon.
Our regiment has been transferred to the First Brigade. We are now in the 1st Brigade, 4th Division, 5th Army Corps. It will not make any difference with the directions of our letters. We are sorry to leave our old brigade. Our Old Gen. Rice was very sorry for us to leave his command. He told the chaplain that the 7th Indiana was the best regiment in his division. He liked all of the boys in this regiment. He always came to our prayer meetings. He told the chaplain to come to his headquarters and preach and bring the regiment with him.
Now it is getting late. I will have to be in haste. Mort sends his love to you both & send his love to all. Tell Aunt Mary and Uncle that I will write to them soon. So now I will enclose my picture and stop for the present. I still remain yours as ever, — Dory Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-FIVE
Addressed to Mr. Milo Longwood, Aberdeen, Indiana
Near Bottom Bridge, Virginia
June 9, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
I wrote a letter to you yesterday but that makes no difference. I will try and write a few more lines to you today. I know that you are always glad to hear from us. I don’t suppose you would care if you could get one every day. I am afraid you don’t get all of the letters we write to you so we will write often. Perhaps you may get some of them. If you get the one I wrote yesterday, it will tell you where we are. We are at the same place.
Our regiment is on picket today. Our picket line is on the east side of the Chickahominy River and the Reb pickets are on the other. The river were we are is not more than 40 feet wide—some places not that wide. We just come down a few minutes ago. When we got here, some of the boys was across [the river] trading with them. Both sides has orders not to shoot without the other shoots first. We are all friendly. Some of them come over, talk and trade tobacco for coffee. We are having a good time. I would rather be here than to be in camp. I have just come from the edge of the river. I traded coffee and got enough corn bread for Mort’s and my supper.
Well, now I will have to quit until we get in camp for it is getting late and the relief is coming. In camp at 8 o’clock P.M. and I have only got about one inch of candle so I can’t write much this time so I will have to write more the next time.
Please excuse this poor letter and still remember us. Mort and I are well. So no more this time. From — Dory Longwood
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-SIX
Addressed to Mr. Milo Longwood, Aberdeen, Indiana
Near Petersburg, Virginia
July 2, 1864
Dear Ma & Pa,
We received your very kind letter of the 23rd last night. Also the paper and envelopes you sent to us. We was very glad to hear that you was well and getting along so well. We also send you our thanks for the things you sent us. We have got enough stamps now to last us for a long time.
We are well and in good spirits. We are now in a very pretty woods in the rear of the breastworks. We was relieved last night from the breast works by the 2d Brigade of our division. We are relieved every three days. We will stay here 3 days, then we will relieve the 2d again.
We are [having] a fine time now, drinking ice water and lemonade, for there [is a] very large ice house here and enough ice to supply the army. We can get plenty lemons at the sutlers—also cakes, cheese, canned fruit, butter, and almost everything. But we have to pay very high for everything. I will give you the prices of a few articles. Cheese 50 cts., butter 60 cts., eggs 65 cts. a dozen, canned fruit $1.00 per can, and everything accordingly. I long once more to get in Ma’s cupboard—not because we don’t get enough to eat here, but because I think I could enjoy myself so much more.
I hope it will not be long until we get a chance to come and see you. It is only about 65 days until the regiment time is out. Then, if we live, we will get to see you. I don’t [know] certain whether I will get out with the regiment or not. I will know soon. Then I will let you know.
I hope all of our hard fighting is over. We are in the same place we was when I wrote the last to you. Mort wrote a few lines to you a few days ago and sent a razor to Pa at the same time.
I hardly know what to write to you as there is no news here. You can get more news in the papers than I can write to you. We have such a poor chance to write here that it is hard for me to write a short letter as possible. I think you will be satisfied by the time you read a short letter written as this is. I can’t do enough for you to repay you for writing so often to me. I write one to you once a week and sometimes two or three times a week. If you get all the letters we write to you, you will get two or three a week. Nothing does us more good than to hear from you and to write to my friends.
We got a letter from Frank [Stevens] a few days ago. All was well.
The weather is very warm here now. It is a good deal warmer here than it was up North when I was there. Well now, as it is getting late, I will have to quit for this time.
Mort is well and getting along fine. He wants to write a few lines to you so I will stop and give him a chance to write a few lines. Please excuse poor writing. I can’t get my hand steady enough to write a good letter so look over all faults. Tell Joe Williamson’s folks that he is well. He got a letter from his folks last night. James Tinker has not got back from that expedition he went on. We have not heard from him since he left.
From your affectionate son, — Dory Longwood
Dory has been writing you a letter so I thought I would try an drop you a few lines. But what I will find to say, I don’t know for I expect he has told you all the particulars of interest.
We are seeing a very good time now. We have nothing to do—only go out to the front every three days. Then we lay in the woods three days. The weather is very hot but we have plenty of ice which is nice this warm weather.
There is often fighting on our left and on our right. Still we are all quiet in our front. Sometimes our men charge; sometimes they charge. But there is not much made by charging works—only to lose men. There is constant mortar shells thrown from both sides. Several shells have bursted within a short distance of the woods but they don’t come close enough to disturb us. They burst within a few hundred yards of us. Seven or eight shells have bursted since I commenced this letter.
We are in the same place we were when we come here on the 18 [of June]. I hope we will stay here until my time is out. We are both well and hardy. We write you sometimes 2 or 3 letters a week. Please hire as much of your work done as you can. I would rather you would pay for hands than work so hard. Money is plenty and you are welcome, as I have told you before. Yours truly. [—Morty Longwood]
TRANSCRIPTION LETTER FIFTY-SEVEN
This letter was written in the trenches before Petersburg just hours before the 30 July pre-dawn mine explosion and attack by the Ninth Corps on the rebel entrenchments. The 7th Indiana Infantry occupied the front line of works, just 300 yards from the Rebel lines, on the extreme right of the Fifth Corps. From this advanced position, they must have had a unforgettable view of what was later called the Battle of the Crater. From this letter we learn that the men of the 9th Corps and the rebels opposite were engaged for days prior to the battle in “a continual firing.”
Front of Petersburg, [Virginia]
July 29, 1864
No doubt you would like to hear from us again. We got a letter from you last evening—also one from Mary Ann. We was very glad to hear that all was well. We was glad to hear that Mary Ann and Frank [Stevens] had come out to pay you a visit. I wish we could have been there to have shared the pleasure with you.
I hope you have got your harvesting done ‘ere this. I know that it must be very hard work for you with so little help. How it would please me to come and help you finish but I can’t at the present time for the harvest of our country will not admit. We have got a large harvest to reap. We are getting along fine with our work. If we should leave now, I am afraid that the Johnnies would receive the profits of all our labors. I hope it will not be long until we will have all of the tares of the Union gathered together and destroyed, ¹ that our harvest may be done, and the Union restored.
We had quite an illumination here last night about 12 o’clock by part of the City of Petersburg being on fire. Some of our large 200 pound shells set it on fire. We could see the fire plain and hear the fire bells ringing. No doubt it caused great excitement in the city. I was thinking as I was looking at the flames of the burning buildings. How very bad we would feel if the rebs was within one mile of Aurora and throwing 200 pound shells into the city as we do Petersburg. The city is just on the western slope of a hill that hides the plain view of the city from us. We can see 4 very large steeples from our rifle pits.
We have got over a thousand men every day and night working on large forts and digging underground roads. They are called covered roads. They are large trenches dug 8 feet deep and 14 feet wide so that ammunition and troops can be taken to the rifle pits and forts without being in any danger. We have got a road dug from our rifle pits to the rear where our camp is when we are relieved from the front. It is over a half mile long. We now can go all the way 8 feet under ground and out of danger. It takes a great deal of work to do all this. Our Brigade has to be in the front works three days; then are relieved by the 2d Brigade while we go to the rear to rest. But we did not get much rest the last time we was back for we had to work on the roads and forts everyday. We are in the rifle pits now but will be relieved tonight.
Lieut. Hall, Mort, and myself have got a bomb proof house made so we feel quite safe. Mortar firing has been quite brisk for two or three days from both sides. We can see our mortar shell burst right in the rebel breast works. It makes the johnnies run every way. They burst a good many in our works but I have not seen anyone hurt yet.
We sit in our works and amuse ourselves by watching our shells setting on fire large houses in the rebel lines. When I was at home, I thought it would be awful to be so close to an enemy—under range of a thousand guns. I thought a person could not enjoy himself at all. But I find it is all a mistake, for we have a good deal of fun and pass away the time quite pleasantly. We all sit and talk about home and about what we have seen until the hours pass away very fast. For the last 4 or 5 nights, we have to keep one third of a company up at a time, and after three o’clock in the morning, all of the companies must be up with accouterments on so as to to be ready if the rebs was to attack us. We have to be on guard for fear of being surprised. After daylight, we can sit in our rifle pits or be near them.
On our right in front of the 9th Corps, they keep up a continual firing from their works. It is fun to see the boys run to get in their bomb proof houses when the rebs throw mortar shells over at us. If we look right close, we can see them coming. They are throwing them at us now while I am writing. Three of them has just bursted not more than 30 or 40 yards from our company but no one hurt.
We have had a very nice rain a few days ago which has made the weather quite cool and pleasant.
We got our photo album and all the pictures that we lost the first day in the Wilderness. I think more of them now than I did before because Ma & Pa (Ida and his room mates) and all that was in the album was captured and went to Dixie and again recaptured. The rebel that got them was killed in one of the battles of the Wilderness.
I have nothing more of importance to write so I will stop scribbling for the present. Mort wrote to you a few days ago. We are both well and in good spirits.
I don’t expect I will get to come home with the regiment. I see in the papers that Gov. [Oliver P.] Morton has been trying to get us home with the regiment but the Secretary of War is trying to act the rascal with us. If I don’t get home with the regiment, I will try and get a easy place to stay in the rest of my time. It is only 40 days from today until our time will be out.
Did you ever get that package we sent to you about the first of this month? It had a razor and several other articles in it. Please let us know in your next letter. So no more this time.
From Dora Longwood
Please excuse pencil marks for I have not got my ink handy at present. Jo is well and doing fine. Tinker is captured.
¹ Dory is speaking of the Parable of the Tares. According to Matthew 13:24-30, during the final judgment, the angels will separate the “sons of the evil one” (the “tares” or weeds) from the “sons of the kingdom” (the wheat). Translated, “Let both the wheat and the weeds grow together until the harvest. Then tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.”