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Virginia Horse Artillery - Lynchburg Beauregard Rifles

Item CON-5539
June 6, 1861 Joseph Pettyjohn
Price: $475.00


4 pages, original Civil War soldier's letter written in period ink and war dated.

Denby Church
Thursday June 6, 1861

B. P. Morris

Dear Sir,
Your letter of the 30th Inst. was received a few days since at this place though directed where we were formally stationed. Finding that we could not get rifles we took a vote of the company when we reached Richmond and as we were offered a battery of four small rifled cannon at which point accepted it thinking we had the place and good possession. But the order came to us last Thursday to move the guns to this place, it being equal distance from Norfolk, Sewell’s Point and Ocean View. Up to the time in getting here we were perfectly satisfied but now we are in for rebellion. I for one prefer dying by shot, shell or ball to dying with disease.
Denby Church is situated in a beautiful body of woods, the ground being so level that when we were discussing how to cut our drains the company was divided on opinion into about 5 or 6 parts. A well six feet deep here offers plenty of water such as it is. It smells like Sulphur water though clear. At present each tent could have a well by grubbing down in the earth about six inches, the ground all around them being covered with water. It has been raining here the best part of three days. Our ditch is perfectly useless we enlarged it and put on boots.
Our tent (private property) does not let in any water from above and yet our pistols hung up in the eves under the ridge pole rust so badly that the cylinders cannot be turned. The powder flasks are covered with mold and verdigris. The trees are hung with long grey moss which grows without any root from any twig or leaf that it happens to stick on. We have an abundance of mosquitos, black gnats, ticks, fish strawberries and vegetables by the field instead of patches. The blockade renders them useless to the owners and we have free access to whatever we want. If it was not so we would suffer for something to eat as our rations are not of the best and limited at that to small quantities.
We will move from here tomorrow to a place not so wet about a mile off. Harvey Ritchie is talking about killing Jake Stratton for sleeping in his mud hole last night. In addition to these ills our rifled cannon accept one are to be taken from us and brass howitzers given us instead. The latter are much more effective for field service than the former. Three boxes have just been put down at our tent from papa’s sister and Betty and Lou. Can’t write any more now. Our tent requests me to give you their best and regards and say you shall hear from them shortly. Not much time to spare. Nine rill calls and 4 drills each day.
Artillery practice is very laborious as well as dangerous. William a. Morris got hurt at Sewel’s Point a week ago by having his thigh mashed between the mouth of one cannon and the wheel of the other. He can now get along without a crutch though unfit for duty. We are spilling for a fight but no danger of having our fighting qualities tested as the Yankees will not come within shooting distance. We threw 5 balls and shell as a scare at some vessels just before we left Sewel’s Point. Range too long – nobody hurt – our fire not returned. Drill hour is at hand – remember me to mother and Aunt Kelly. Write soon – All Well.

Your Friend
Jos. Pettyjohns