June 19, 1864
Yours of May 24th & June 1st came to hand last night. We have not had a mail before in over a month. I am very glad to hear from home once more. I am glad you are all well yet for I am by the blessing of God safe and well yet. Father, God is good to me and I do thank Him from the bottom of my heart for all HIs kindness to me and to us all.
I got a letter from Mary, Libby, Amanda, two from you, and one from Johnny Mandeville last night, and I believe there is more on the way for me. I have plenty to do now to fight the Rebels and answer letters. I tell you, Father, there is nothing does an old soldier so much good as to hear and get good news from his dear friends at home. It is just as good for me to get a letter from home as for you to get one from me. I feel just as anxious to know how you are all getting along.
We are now only about 1½ miles from Petersburg. Our Battery is ready to open on them at any time. We are in position in a splendid cornfield. Corn is up to our necks. Since we have crossed the James River, we have passed some of the handsomest farms down here. Their cornfields are sometimes a hundred acres. Wheat and corn is all they raise now. ¹
We have had some very hard fighting since we started and some hard marches but nobody complains—only those who expect to go home soon. There is about sixty men left now of the old men who expect to go home and they are all the time complaining about everything. Most of them that did not reenlist have Copperhead fathers and they will swear and curse everybody and anything that has anything to do with the war. They are all theme damning us that reenlisted. I had a quarrel with one of them last night. He and another one was blowing that this Battery would be a great thing after they went home as if they were the only good men in it. It made me fighting mad right away. And said there would be nothing but bounty jumpers and cowards left and the very same man I have known to run more than once, and he has to be forced up to the front now, and I have always been to the front. He backed down though or I would have soon seen who was the biggest coward. But he would not give me the chance. I would think of settling with those cowards at home but I don’t wish to do such dirty work. I want something more noble than to whip a coward. They are not worthy of the notice of an old soldier and this one will not notice them either as long as they stay away from me.
I am sorry you are not drafting in our township for I should like to see some of those fellows come out or fork over their three hundred dollars. I am very much obliged to you for that five dollars but it will be very hard work to change it. People do not like to take anything but greenbacks down here. You must excuse my bad writing for I have nothing but an old pen stick in a stick. Give my love to Mother and all may ask of me. Tell Mother I thank her for her prayers to God in my behalf. Tell her I have given myself to my God for Him to guard and protect. Father, may the blessing of our Heavenly Father rest upon us all forever is my only hope. Write soon to your changed son, — C. V. H.
¹ From Michael Hanifen’s book (p. 114): “June 18th, at 4 a. m., Second, Fifth and Ninth Corps attacked enemy’s fortified line, but made no permanent lodgments. The artillery aided in keeping down the enemy’s fire. At noon Battery B was advanced about 600 yards to the front, and placed in position in a cornfield near the City Point railroad, from which it had an enfilading fire on the enemy’s line. The Battery was enfiladed, however, by one of the enemy’s 32-pounder Whitworth guns, in position north of the Appomattox river. We soon threw up pits. One of their shells exploded near a pit, and for a few moments bugler Toddy Williams and one other were prematurely buried, but were soon dug out. The horses were sent to the rear. Fortunately for us the Whitworth gun burst on its fifth discharge, as afterwards learned from the enemy. We opened from here on the enemy, who were in line of rifle pits on a ridge to the left. Barlow’s Division charged and drove them out, capturing quite a number of prisoners. While the enemy were falling back to their next line we shelled them vigorously. In the evening went to old position on line. 19th, both armies engaged in entrenching. 20th, brisk musketry and artillery firing. Relieved at dusk by Sixth Corps Battery, and marched with Gibbon’s Division and bivouacked in rear of Ninth Corps. June 21st, marched to the left to the Jerusalem plank road. Marched up the road towards Petersburg about two miles, where we were parked behind a belt of timber.”