April 1865 Letter - 104th Pennsylvania Private John Ickes Witnesses Breakthrough Assault of April 2 - "they had another frolic and scared the Rebs and they left on Sunday night"

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April 1865 Letter - 104th Pennsylvania Private John Ickes Witnesses Breakthrough Assault of April 2 - "they had another frolic and scared the Rebs and they left on Sunday night"

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Item No. 1173063

A fascinating letter written April 4, 1865, just after the Union army’s break-through at Petersburg. It was written by Private John Ickes of the 104th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Like many of the men in Company F, Ickes was a new recruit, having enlisted at Harrisburg less than a month before. He was assigned to be a cook and, as such, did not participate in the regiment’s assaults of April 1 and 2, but provided his family back home with his perspective of the fighting, as well as his hopes for a quick end to the war which would occur just days later at Appomattox Court House. The letter reads:

Bermuda Front
April 4th 1865

Dear Mother
I sit down this morning to write a few lines. Yesterday evening I wrote to Jane and this morning I had good time to write to you. I have good health as could be expected and hope you may be well. I think of my mother and wife very often and my little children still. My children have a good mother and a good grandmother. That is a great consolation down in this Southern country where you may hear the cannons roar every day and see ambulances running every hour for sick and wounded. We left Harrisburg on yesterday one week and got here on last Friday noon. I saw a great many changes from Harrisburg to here. We went to Baltimore and from that by water down the Chesapeake Bay and up the James River to City Point and Bermuda Hundred and then walked about 6 or 7 miles to where we are now. It looks like summer down here now but still the nights are cold and days hot. The company has put old daddy Kline and me in for cooks. We have soft bread some part of the time and hard take, pork, salt, beans, mackerel, pepper, sugar, and good coffee and sheep meat. And then we as cooks can buy eggs or butter at 80 cts per pound or per dozen and dry beef or cheese at 40 cts per pound and live well as far as that is concerned. We have no reason to complain. The shooting is what I hate. On Saturday afternoon at three o’clock our green company was ordered out to the fortifications which is only 50 yards from our tent and the battery opened fire and we smelled powder in two minutes for I could throw a stone to where there is six cannon and I tell you when they was all in motion it sounded like a heavy thunder storm. There was six or eight batteries opened all at once for about 2 miles. I tell you it roared. The Rebs did not open any of their batteries and then our fellows was ordered to the Rebel works. Our boys was not in the fight but the Rebs and the New York 110th Regiment had a fight for about an hour with muskets and that regiment lost in killed and wounded and missing about 100. On Sunday afternoon they had another frolic and scared the Rebs and they left on Sunday night and Monday our regiment left all but Kline and me and a few sick in our company. They are out giving it to the Rebs right and left. Fighting is going on every day. It is reported that Lee has left Richmond and that Grand and Sheridan, our forces, has taken 40 thousand prisoners within a few days. I hope the Rebels will soon give it up.

I must close my letter. My best respects to mother and Henry and all enquiring friends.
John Ickes

Direct to Co. F 104th Regt P.V. Washington D.C.

The letter was written on all four pages of a stationery sheet measuring about 5” x 8”. It is in excellent condition with very little wear to edges and corners. Very minor foxing and toning. Creased where originally folded.

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