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    Petersburg

    National Battlefield Virginia

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Web Rangers Activity #5

Feather quill & ink stand

Illustrate a soldier's letter

What were the soldier's words describing? Draw a picture of the soldier's words.

Mail call was always an important event for soldiers fighting in the Civil War. They eagerly awaited a letter from their loved ones at home. Likewise, many soldiers wrote letters home to their friends and family. The letters written by soldiers give us insight today into their lives and hardships during the Civil War.

1. Read the following letter excerpts of Civil War soldiers.

2. Use the highlighted links to access other web pages for pictures.

3. Choose one letter excerpt. Identify whether the soldier who wrote the letter was fighting for the Union or the Confederacy. Provide two reasons to support the identification.

4. Pretend you are the soldier writing the letter, and draw a picture of what you are describing in the letter. Use your imaginations and the soldier's words.


"I believe that you owe me a letter, but of this I am not certain...The enemy avoided our mine & ran theirs under Cousin Dick's Battery. They blew it up about daylight, & taking advantage of the temporary confusion and demoralization of our troops at that point, rushed a larger body of blacks & whites into the breach. This turned out much worse for them in the end...I am convinced since Saturday's fight, that it has a splendid effect on our men."


"Yesterday evening just before coming into the trenches I received your letter of the 30th June...You would certainly be diverted to see me now. I occupy a hole in the ground just long enough for one to lie down in and high enough to set up in, covered with poles and two or three feet of earth to form a protection from pieces of shell. I cannot see that we are gaining much advantage, but I suppose Mr. Grant knows what he is about."


"Jumping up a sight the most grand and awful that I ever saw met my eyes. The mine had exploded and torn the fort to pieces throwing guns, men, ammunition and thousands upon thousands of tons of earth high in the air reducing the once impregnable work to a heap of ruins in about 1 minute. Had this been all it would have a good entertainment but at the moment of the explosion our first line charged reaching the enemies lines before the dirt and dust of the explosion had returned to the ground."


"All is quiet now except the usual canonadeing and sharpshooting. For two days we have had no skirmishing on our line here. The Yanks agreed to quit if our boys were willing and they readily consented and again are at liberty to walk near the line. The most of them are busily engaged preparing for the winter, which is fast approaching here. Instead of building huts as formerly, they dig a hole in the ground about 6 feet deep and 10 feet square, put over the top a layer of large logs. On that a layer of boughs and leaves, and cover the whole with dirt which they pile on till it is shaped like a potato head."

Did You Know?

President Lincoln and General Grant at the Wallace House

Union General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant and Army of the Potomac Commander George G. Meade met with Abraham Lincoln on April 3, 1865 at the Thomas Wallace house on Market Street in Petersburg. President Lincoln visited Petersburg again on April 7, 1865. (Petersburg National Battlefield)