January 1865 Letter by Private David T. T. Litchfield, 34th Massachusetts - As Drummer, Marched 3 Miles at Head of Regiment While Sleeping

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January 1865 Letter by Private David T. T. Litchfield, 34th Massachusetts - As Drummer, Marched 3 Miles at Head of Regiment While Sleeping

195.00

Item No. 7694791

An interesting January 1865 letter written by Private David T. T. Litchfield of the 34th Massachusetts to his mother in Southbridge. Litchfield’s regiment was then a part of the 24th Corps in the Army of the James in the trenches east of Richmond. Though enlisted as a private, the letter suggests Litchfield was serving as a musician, likely a drummer. He recounts a humorous story in which he lost some of his belongings and marched several miles while sleeping:

It was near morning or the sleepiest part of the night. The Reg. stopped to rest a minute & as I layed down slipped one of the shoulder straps off, at the same time fell asleep. When the order forward was given, got up, took my instrument, leaving knapsack & marched about two or three miles before I missed it. I suppose I was asleep all that time, as I only remembered laying down there & then finding myself about three miles from there marching at the head of the Reg. & nearly daylight. Have often wondered why [I] didn’t leave my instrument at the same time. Because see that I have had rather bad luck this summer in losing so much house hold furniture.

Litchfield concludes his letter on a rather upbeat note, writing that things were “quiet in the Army of the James” and describing pleasant evenings by the fire with friends, as well as the good news of the capture of Fort Fisher in North Carolina. The letter reads, in full:

Camp Holly Va
Jan 22d 1865

Dear Mother
I believe my days work is done, as far as military is concerned, and now I will endeavor to write a few words to you.

Your letter of the 15. was rec’d Friday with boots, shirt, & stockings which [I] was very glad to get. The boots are just a splendid fit & could not have been made to suit me better. The shirt guess will be the same. Can tell tomorrow as it is my washing day & shall put on all clean clothes. You said you put in some tasties. I did not find them. I thought perhaps you might have forgotten them. If you did, it is no matter as can do just as well without them I guess.

I see by your letter that you wonder why I wanted but one shirt. I have one of the shirts that was sent over a year ago, which is very good yet & with the new one am abundantly supplied for the next six months. The mate to the old one was lost last spring when we had orders to send our knapsacks back when at Winchester under [General Franz] Sigel. Knapsack, overcoat, portfolio & several other little articles were lost, so haven’t had but one shirt since & in fact it has been enough because could not have carried an extra one through so much marching. After Hunter took command we had to take knapsacks again, so I picked one up, got my things into it, & the night we retreated from Lynchburg lost that with my tent, blankets, coffee & sugar, & those stockings you sent last spring. It was lost so easy is the funniest of it. It was near morning or the sleepiest part of the night. The Reg. stopped to rest a minute & as I layed down slipped one of the shoulder straps off, at the same time fell asleep. When the order forward was given, got up, took my instrument, leaving knapsack & marched about two or three miles before I missed it. I suppose I was asleep all that time, as I only remembered laying down there & then finding myself about three miles from there marching at the head of the Reg. & nearly daylight. Have often wondered why [I] didn’t leave my instrument at the same time. Because see that I have had rather bad luck this summer in losing so much house hold furniture.

I am enjoying very good health at this time. We have had some very pleasant weather for several days up to yesterday which was very rainy & today is rather cloudy & misty, but not so much as to interfere in the Regt inspection. We take a great deal of comfort in our log house. Sitting by the fireplace these long eves talking of home & of the past summer’s campaign & things in general. H is in the same tent with me. We have tented, bunked & messed together ever since we have been in the service. What is his is mine & mine his & it seems sometimes as though he was a nearer relative to me than John. We have been together so long. [Private] Lewis R[ivers] calls in often & spends an eve with us. He is well. My sheet is about full & must close, hoping this will find you well. Everything is quiet in the Army of the James I believe. I wish you could have heard the firing about here on the day the news came that Fort Fisher had been taken. It sounded like a perfect roar of thunder. All the bands in the department were ordered to play.

My best respects to all & accept this with much love from your aff. son
David

The letter was written on four pages of a stationery sheet measuring about 5” x 8”. It was written in pencil, but remains quite legible throughout. Little foxing or toning. Creased where originally folded. Also included is the original stamped cover with what I believe is an Old Point Lookout postmark (only the “Old Point” portion is visible).

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