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Letter from soldier in the 53rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry

The Gallipolis Journal
June 9, 1864

[Ed.] We make the following extracts from a private letter received from a brother-in-law of the editor [R. L. Stewart], who has served in the army of the Potomac since August, 1861, having been in all the battles under McClellan, and at Gettysburg, and now in Hancock's Division under Gen. Grant, thus far escaping without a wound. He says:

Anderson Farm, Camp 53d, Penna Vols., May 20

     * * * It is useless for me to attempt now to detail things as they occur. It is unknown to any of us what we may do before the close of this day. I have in this last series of battles made several narrow escapes.—Once I was run over by a frightened horse that had escaped from his driver, was not much hurt, and ready for duty the next day. On the day of the grand charge of Hancock's division, I was taken prisoner, but getting separated from the enemy's force, I got away, and bro't the men who took me within our lines as prisoners. The fighting thus far has been almost incessant, and our losses heavy, but not so great as those of the enemy. Our company went in on the first day of the fight with 74 men—we now have 52. Of the men, six have been killed, 13 wounded—balance missing. The boys are fatigued greatly, and no telling when we shall find rest. I have seen many heart-rending sights in the past few days, which I may tell you of hereafter if God spares my life to see it through, as he has mercifully done thus far.
     Our company is commanded by Sergt. Kuhis. Nearly all the companies in the 53d are under command of sergeants. Officers are much needed, as nearly all have been killed or wounded. But very few of the original members of my company are now in it—all killed, in hospital, discharged from wounds. The army is in good heart and disposed to press this thing through.—Confidence in Grant is unbounded; but what we need most, I think, are the prayers of our friends in the North. The prayers of the righteous avail much. We should acknowledge a higher power—the RULER who holds in His hands the destiny of this nation. If the people could be made to see this, and feel it, the war would soon close. They are beginning to do so I believe, and when we have, as a nation, been thoroughly chastised for our sins, then will the end come. It cannot be that God designs this nation to perish at the foot of slavery. His purposes doubtless are, to wipe out the latter as a gigantic curse against his laws. That it is being done effectually, all must admit, but at what a fearful price! Still, if with peace we have our republican form of government, and can proclaim universal liberty to all men, the sacrifice will not be in vain. Whatever fate [line hidden in fold of paper] permitted to see you all again, shall feel repaid for all my privations, with the satisfaction of having done my duty.

Transcribed by Eva Swain Hughes