Harman’s Civil War Letters

These letters were written by Sgt. Theodore Harman (1836-1863) of Co. I, 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry. [Note: Theodore’s surname is spelled variously as Herman, Harman, or Harmon; I have settled on Harman as that is the way it is spelled on his headstone.] He was born on 29 January 1836, the son of George Harman (1806-1881) and Mary Ann Steinmetz (1845-1913) — residents of Plainfield township, Northampton county, Pennsylvania in 1860. In 1850, they resided in Hamilton township, Monroe county, Pennsylvania.

Theodore was 26 years old when he mustered on 11 October 1862 as a 2d Sergeant in the 153rd Pennsylvania. He wrote these letters to his wife, Louisa Harman, whom he married on 2 February 1862. The marriage certificate from the widow’s pension file indicates Louisa’s maiden name was Moyer. She was the daughter of Peter Moyer (1808-1880) and Catharine Frey (1809-1882) of Wind Gap, Northampton county, Pennsylvania.

Theodore did not survive the war. He contracted typhoid fever at Brooks Station, Virginia, in mid-June 1863 and was transferred to the Columbia College Hospital in Washington D. C. where he died on 29 June 1863.

In the letters, Theodore mentions his older brother, Pvt. Peter Harman [Herman] (1834-1927) of Co. A, same regiment. Peter was captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville on 3 May 1863. In the regimental history of the 153rd, Peter Herman gives a stirring account of his march as a prisoner to Richmond where he was confined in Libby Prison until being exchanged on 30 May 1863. Theodore also mentions Josiah Henry Moyer (1834-1907), his brother-in-law, who served in the 129th Pennsylvania Infantry. Josiah was wounded slightly at the Battle of Fredericksburg.


LETTER ONE

The 153rd Pennsylvania Regiment first assembled in Easton on 22 September 1862. The members spent the 23rd and 24th in Easton completing their formation and on the 25th they boarded the train for Harrisburg, arriving at 10 o’clock in the evening. After sleeping in the cars, they marched to their camp and erected their tents. The following brief letter was Harman’s first letter to his wife, written from Camp Simmons which was located at the northwest corner of Camp Curtin:

Camp Simmons
Harrisburg [Pennsylvania]
September 29, 1862

My dear friend,

I sit down this afternoon to inform you to let you know that I am well at present and hope you [are] the same. And now I will let you know a little about our soldiering that we have. We sit in the tents but [it] is so very hot we hardly can stand it. And some is a writing and some is a looking and some a sleeping and some a reading & some a praying & so they are all busy. And now I will let you know a little about our grub. We get pork, beef, beans, & rice, very good bread & crackers, coffee as much as we want. We don’t suffer.

— Theodore Harman


LETTER TWO

Harman writes his wife from Camp Simmons letting her know he received his bounty. He also tells her that they have passed through their physical examination, that he has been made a sergeant, and that he passes the time cutting hair.

Camp Simmons
Harrisburg [Pennsylvania]
September 30, 1862

Dear friend,

With pleasure I sit down to drop a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and hope that you are the same and I like the camp life yet so far. We have prayer meeting every night in our camp. It is just like camp meeting [at home].

And now I let you know that we don’t drill much. We hain’t got our uniform yet but I think we will get them before long. And now I let you know when we got examined, we had fun. We had to strip naked and go in the tent.

And now I let you know that I hain’t cook anymore. I resigned. They put me in for sergeant. I like it better. It hain’t quite so greasy and I am very busy every day. I am barber. I cut very many hair. I charge 5 cents apiece.

And now I let you know that we get our bounty today ¹ but I tell you this is fun for the fellows to get their money. But I won’t keep one dollar. I will send you five and send father 45. I can earn every day as much as I want for spending money with cutting hair.

And now I must come to a close. But I wish you could come and see our camp and tents. They are all busy in every tent. Some sings and some prays and reads and some writes and some sleeps and so they are all busy.

And so goodbye, my friend, till I write again. And don’t write till I send another letter. And now I must tell a little about our grub. We get pork and beef, bread and crackers, beans and rice, and sweet coffee. We live very good. We get fat. We have good appetites.

This is all at present. And don’t forget me. Yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman

I will write soon again.


¹ To entice enlistment and to avoid the necessity of drafting, Northumberland county residents voted to offer volunteers a $50 bounty.


LETTER THREE

Harman’s cousin, William Harrison (“Harry”) Santee (1840-1899), writes him from the camp of Co. E, 41st Pennsylvania Infantry near Sharpsburg, Maryland. He was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps on 1 September 1863 due to his disability. Harry was the son of John Santee (1798-1868) and Leah Steinmetz (1821-1920) of Easton, Northampton county, Pennsylvania.

Camp near Sharpsburg [Maryland]
September 30, 1862

Cousin Theodore,

I take my pen in [hand] to form a few lines to you stating that I am well at present again. Hope these few lines will find you all the same [and] in good spirits. Also I let you know that I had a sick spell after this last battle [Antietam] what we had in the State of Maryland. I had the dysentery very bad for a week. I couldn’t eat anything anymore for a week long. I had lost about 12 pounds in that week but now I am over it again and feel bully again. I can eat again like a good boy but I ain’t fit for a soldier anymore. Theo, I was to our doctor the other day and got myself examined and he told me right off that I wouldn’t be fit for duty anymore. He told me it would be better for me to take my discharge and I refused it at first. And then I thought over this thing right and then I told him I would take it. And so they made out my discharge yesterday and now they will send it in to Washington one of these days and there it get made out right for me. And then as soon as it comes out of Washington again, and then I can start for home again. And then I can see you all again and that is before long.

I think, Theo, I will not write anything about this last battle. I think I [will] be home before long and then I [will] tell you all about [it].

Also, I tell you that I have seen all them boys from up there — Josiah Moyer, John Schiffer, James Heller, and all the boys [of the 129th Pennsylvania]. They look good yet but they don’t like it very much, I think. Theodore, this is about all for this time. I hope to see you all before many weeks are around.

And so farewell cousins. Yours truly, — cousin Wm. H. Santee

[To] Tho. Harman [from] Harry Santee


LETTER FOUR

Harman received the following letter from his younger sister, Susan Alemanda Harman (b. 1837) shortly after his arrival at Camp Simmons.

Bethlehem [Pennsylvania]
September 30 [1862]

My dearest brother,

If I only could see you 5 minutes. Oh, Theodore, how often do I think of you. And will I ever get to see you my dear and kind brother? I felt sorry I didn’t go at the depot the day you passed [through]. Milchsack ¹ said you asked if I wasn’t down but it was too late. There is a girl works in the shop. She comes from Broadheadville [Monroe county, PA]. She knows you. Her name is Hannah Purple. She has a step-father and you know him well. She said I should ask you if you remember yet. One time you was on the way coming down from the swamp. You come to a place where the girls was making a flag and a pedlar was there. You sang and he played the fiddle.

I wish I could direct your letter to the Wind Gap. I guess our parents feel lonesome but I hope the time will come when we all can be together again. I hope you wrote to Louesa already. Don’t you think of the lane you used to travel so often out in the fields? The time that is gone is gone forever.

If Joe writes, please put a slip of paper in and tell me for sure how you hiked. But I hope good. And hasn’t Peter got the homesick[ness] yet? Let me know. Give my love to Eve Bauer and all the rest. And take a good share for yourself.

Yours truly, — Sister Susie

I wish you were here. You could sleep with me. Milchsack most [   ]. He came back from the depot. He thinks the world of you and Peter. Good night. Sleep good.


¹ Probably Charles “Augustus” Milchsack (1796-1870) of Bethlehem, Northampton county, Pennsylvania.


LETTER FIVE

Harman writes his wife again from Camp Simmons near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. He tells her they expect to get their uniforms soon.

Camp Simmons
Harrisburg [Pennsylvania]
October 10, 1862

My dear and beloved wife,

I sit down this morning to drop a few lines to you to let you know that I received your welcome letter and was very glad to hear of you again and hear that you are all well. I thank the Lord that I am the same and hope to stay well till I come home again. I had a cold but I am rid of it again. I feel bully again. And further, I bet you know that I like camp life better everyday. It’s cause we get sweet coffee and fresh beef. We all get fat. I don’t think you will know me if I come home.

And now I [will] let you know that I am very busy today. I must post our men out for water. I must take ten men out at a time. I post George Fritz and Frank Williams out this week and then they went home. But if they come there, they will get punished for it. And now I must let you know that we hain’t got our uniform yet but I think we will get them till tomorrow. Then we will look like soldiers. We look pretty dirty. It is time that we get our uniform.

And now I let you know that I received a letter from [my sister] Susan and she is well.

And now I must close. I can’t write. The tent sits full of boys and they just make fun and devilment. I and Levi Mosser sit at one desk and write. He writes a letter for Joseph Breidinger to his sweetheart Sally Schiffer. And as soon as you receive this letter, I wish you would answer. I would like to hear of you every day. I think we will [not] go off till next week but I don’t know where to but I think to Washington or elsewhere.

Yours truly Friend, — Theodore Harman

To his wife, Louisa Harman

Excuse my short letters and mistakes and bad spelling And here I send you an envelope. Just write and put it in and send it. Then I will [be] sure [to] get it. Goodbye for this time. Give my love to all enquiring friends.


LETTER SIX

Harman writes his wife that the regiment has finally been issued its uniforms and have sent their civilian clothes home. He has employed his free time earning extra cash by sewing epaulets on his comrades uniforms.

Camp Simmons
Harrisburg [Pennsylvania]
October 12, 1862

Dear friend,

I take the pleasure this evening to drop a few lines to you to let you know that we are still yet in our old place again. We got marching orders last Friday night at ten o’clock to march to Chambersburg but we could not go. We had no uniforms & no arms. We didn’t get them till Saturday night at twelve o’clock in the night. We went to Harrisburg and got our arms. Then we went home and laid down and slept till morning. Then we got up and took breakfast and at noon, we got marching orders to take down our tents and march. And then we went down to the depot and went in the cars and was in [them] about a half an hour and then the orders came that we should go home in our camp again. But then you ought to [have] seen the soldiers that was there. And now we are here again but I don’t know how long we are here but I would rather [we had] went off than to stay here. I am tired in this camp. And further, I let you know that I seen Sam Bitz. He was in the camp today when we went off.

And further I let you know that we will send our clothes to Easton at John Transue ¹ right above Edward Seigfried. Tell your father he should fetch them there, if he pleases. But they are very dirty. Excuse.

And now I must close. I am very sleepy. I didn’t sleep much in two nights and my hand hurts so bad. I sowed epaulets on the soldier’s coats. I got eight cents a piece. I earned 71 cents today. good night, Louisa. I wish I could be with you tonight to talk with you. No more at present.

Yours truly, — Theodore Harman

To Louisa Harman

Answer as soon as you receive this letter and put it in that envelope that I sent you. Give my respects to all.


¹ John A. Transue (1816-1882) was a resident of West Easton, Northampton, Pennsylvania. In 1860, a clerk; in 1870 a justice of the peace. Edward R. Seigried (1815-1872) of West Easton was an “inn keeper in 1860.


LETTER SEVEN

The 153rd Pennsylvania was ordered to Washington D. C. in mid-October 1862 where they went into “Camp Glanz.” After about three weeks, they were ordered to Aldie, Virginia which is where Harman wrote this letter to his wife the day after their arrival. He tells her they are very near the enemy but his is not scared like some of the others. Boldly he proclaims, “I don’t think they will shoot me. And if they do, then I am out of the way.”

Aldie, Virginia
November 10, 1862

My dear Louisa,

I sit down this morning to drop a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and hope you [are] the same. And further, I would like to know what is the reason that you don’t write. Did you forget me or not? It troubles me very much that I don’t hear of you anymore. I just got two letters of you since I am in the army & [my brother] Peter gets most everyday a letter of his wife. She thinks more of him than you do of me, else you write oftener. I would write sooner but we march most everyday and now I will let you know a little about our march.

We left Camp Glanz ¹ on the 4th of November at 9 o’clock in the morning and marched to Washington and there we took the steamboat [Hero] and went to Alexandria and then we went to the camp [Camp Convalescent] and stayed there till next morning. And then we took the cars ² and start[ed] for Manassas Junction and we came there at two o’clock in the afternoon and we stayed there till about three o’clock. Then we marched off again and came through the Bulls Run Battlefield, but it was dark [and] we could not see much. And so we marched till about eight o’clock and then we came in the woods and then we laid down and slept until about three o’clock in the morning. And then we started again and marched about five miles further and then we pitched our tents in the wood and there we stayed till next morning. Then [on the morning of Friday, 7 November] we got orders to march and then we formed a line to start and then we got other orders and then we went back [into camp] again. And then it commenced to snow and so it snowed all day [accumulating up to six inches]. But then it was very nasty. And then we was there till Sunday morning. Then we marched off again with our knapsacks on our backs. But I tell you, Louisa, it was a very large row with soldiers.

Sigel, Franz (Colonel), SHS012371; CD174
Franz Sigel — commanding “a very fighting brigade.” (TH)

We are in General [Franz] Sigel’s Brigade. It is a very fighting Brigade — that you all know — and we are very near to the enemy. We don’t know when we must fight — perhaps before you get this letter. We have orders to sleep on our arms tonight. We don’t know when we must fight but we are all ready to fight. But some is scared a little, I think, but I hain’t. I don’t think they will shoot me. And if they do, then I am out of the way. But if I live to see you again, I can tell you a great deal of news. I have seen more than I ever seen before.

[A] soldier’s life is a very hard life. But I hain’t sorry that I went. We have plenty to eat. We have crackers & fresh beef and fresh pork plenty where we are now. The boys was out and stole one bull and one cow and several hogs and chickens and all they could get. They just went out [with] the horses and took all they could get. And they stole several horses and fetched them in the camp. I tell you Louisa, it looks very hard here in the rebel country. They burn all the rails off the fence and burn down the houses and everything.

And now I must come to a close and write as soon as you receive this letter and direct your letter as it is on this piece a paper. Then I will receive it and don’t forget it. Goodbye Louisa, and don’t forget [me] as long as you live and don’t trouble yourself about me. Excuse my bad letter.

Yours truly — Theodore Harman


¹ This camp was named after Charles Glanz, the colonel of the 153rd Pennsylvania. It was located near Fort Meigs.

² According to a history of the regiment by Lovenstein (p. 59), the regiment was loaded onto a “train of flatcars” bound for Manassas Junction on 5 November 1862. I highly recommend Lovenstein’s book, “In Lieu of a Draft.”


LETTER EIGHT

After a few days near Aldie, the 153rd Pennsylvania fell back to a camp near Chantilly, Virginia where they remained until 9 December 1862. In this letter from Camp Chantilly, Harman tells his wife about the muddy march from Aldie — “the hardest march that we ever had” — and about the regiment’s new camp on the Stuart farm.

Camp Chantilly, Fairfax county, Virginia
November 21st 1862

My dear wife,

I must again write to you. It is so lonesome that I don’t know how to spend my time and so I thought I would write to you to let you know that we have very much rain. It commenced raining last Sunday night and so it rains yet and this is the fifth day that it rains and I don’t know when it will clear off yet. I tell you, Louisa, it is unpleasant here in our tents and outside it is very muddy. I hope we will get in[to] our winter’s quarters before long. Then we will have better time.

And now I will tell you a little about our march that we had last Tuesday. We left Camp Aldie at eight o’clock in the morning and marched till noon. Then we came in the wood and then we took dinner and at two o’clock we marched again and it rained all day and was very muddy and it was the hardest march that we ever had and some of the men give out. But I traveled along as good as the next man but we marched about eighteen miles that day with our knapsacks on our backs and we carried our camp kettles and our frying pans along and we [did not] come in[to] the camp [un]til about five o’clock in the evening. But I tell you, we slept good that night — we was very tired. But we have a very nice place to camp where we are now. We camp on General Steward’s farm. ¹ He is the rebel general. But he had the nicest farm that I ever seen since I am in the army. But there is no fence on the whole farm anymore and they tore down the wagon shed and houses and the man had a very nice stock of farming tools and that they broke — such as plows & harrows & drills and mowing machines, thrash machines, and everything he left there. But it is all spoiled. It is a pity for these things but it can’t be helped.

And further I let you know, Louisa, that I wish you would save all my letters that I send to you till I come home — that’s if I ever should come home. Then I could tell you more about these things than I can write and I would rather talk to you than to write. I could explain it better. I have seen more since I left home than I ever have before. But I never have been sorry that I went to war. But if I ever should come home again, I never don’t want to go anymore. I am just tired of war and so is all the rest. I and [Lt. William H.] Crawford and [Lt.] Reuben Stotz — we sit a many a time in our tents and talk about our nice times that we used to have at home. But that is just what some folks like. But I would rather wish them to lay about here and do nothing. I think I would feel better with me than I thought it would. I have been well since I left home.

And further I let you know that I hain’t seen [your brother] Josiah yet and I can’t find out where they [the 129th Pennsylvania] are. Some says they are in our brigade but I don’t believe it. But I wish you would let me know where to direct a letter for him. I would like to write him a letter.

And now I must close my letter and tell my friend that I am well and in good spirits and so is [my brother] Peter. [Capt.] Joseph Myers is well again and all the rest of our company. Give my best respect to all enquiring friends and write soon. I wish you would write every week. No more at present.

Yours truly husband, — Theodore Harman

And direct your letter as usual.


¹ Most likely this was the Chantilly farm of Charles Calvert Stuart which was inherited by his son, Sholto Turberville Stuart. During the Civil War, the Chantilly farm was occupied by Union troops. “By October 1862, the house was was deserted and dilapidated, personal family papers were scattered about, and all of the furniture was reportedly removed except for an old-fashioned mahogany sideboard that was too heavy to life… The house was occupied by Union troops on picket duty… The lawn, flower garden, fruit and shade trees are all neglected, the fences are down, and cavalry horses roam at will over his once truly magnificent spot.” [See Northern Virginia History Notes


LETTER NINE

The 153rd Pennsylvania remained at Chantilly, Virginia, from 18 November until 9 December. In this letter, Harman tells his wife that on Thanksgiving Day the regiment was excused from drill and that they had a good meal, a church service, and the band played. “It seemed to me just like Sunday,” he wrote her, and then uncharitably added, “but we hant got no very good preacher,” referring to Rev. P. W. Melick, the 38 year-old Presbyterian minister serving as their chaplain. He also tells her it is “most too cold” to write in his tent which has no fire, explaining that he hasn’t built a chimney because he thinks they won’t stay at Chantilly long.

Chantilly, Fairfax county, [Virginia]
November 28th 1862

My beloved wife,

I received your welcome letter dated the 18th and was very glad to hear from you again and you had stated in your letter that you had received my clothing and found your likeness in. And now I will tell you how that went with that likeness. When we got our uniforms, I put my clothes in the carpet bag and forgot to take the likeness out till it was too late. Then I was very sorry about it. But you must excuse me for it.

And now I must let you know that I received your letter last Monday morning and you must excuse me for not writing sooner but I would write sooner but circumstances did not allow. For one thing, the weather was too cold. I couldn’t write in my tent. We haven’t got our winter quarters yet but I think we will get them before long. Then I can write sooner. I ought to write every day — I have so many letters to answer. I received two letters this week of my sister [Susan] Araminda and haven’t answered one yet. But I must write this week yet for her.

And further I must let you know that we had a very pleasant day yesterday. We didn’t drill but we had church and our band played. It was Thanksgiving Day. It seemed to me just like Sunday but we hain’t got no very good preacher. I was wishing a many a time for our old minister Fuch. He would make it roar better. But our minister [Philip Weller Melick] just preaches for money. He gets one hundred dollars a month and just preaches once a week.

And further I must let you know that we had a great excitement here last night. The soldiers went off to capture some rebels. I heard them march most all night but I don’t know when they will come back again or how they will make out. But they wasn’t none of our regiment but out of our brigade. They are most all Dutchmen but they don’t care to go in a battle and they had as may a fight since they are in the army.

And now I must let you know that we have plenty to eat and drink just now. We got bread again. We haven’t had no bread in three weeks till this morning. We got each one loaf again but that taste good again. And now I will tell you what we had for dinner today noon. We had rice soup and fresh beef & bread & Uncle Sam’s crackers and I have a very good appetite. I generally eat six crackers at a time. If my appetite and health keeps on so till I come, I think I will be very fat. I never thought camp life would agree so good with me but I thank God for it. Good health in the army is all that a man wants. But we have a few sick men in our company and I will tell you who they are. One is Joseph Breidinger & [the other is] Robert Williams — he is from Bushkill — and James Stein was sick but he is fit for duty again.

And now I must close. My candle is most all [gone] and it is most too cold to write in my tent. I have no fire in my tent. Most all of the boys have built chimneys at there tents but I didn’t build none. I haven’t no time and I think it isn’t necessary. I think we won’t stay here long anymore.

I wish, Louisa, I could be with you tonight but I am about three hundred miles from you. But if the Lord spares my life, I think I can see you again and if not on Earth, I hope in Heaven. I dream most every night that I see you but my thought is most always about you. There is no minute that I don’t think of you. But I hope you are all well. Good night, Louisa. Write soon and direct as before and write more.

— Theodore Harman


LETTER TEN

In this letter Harman tells his wife about “military matters” — picket duty and drilling, which appears to be wearing on him.

Chantilly, Fairfax county, Virginia
December 4th 1862

Dear Louisa,

I sit down this afternoon to drop a few lines to let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter dated the 22nd of November and I received it on the 29th but I hadn’t the time to write sooner. We must drill every day this week but I think next week we need not drill so often. But our regiment is out on picket duty this week. I was out last Sunday and came home in the camp on Monday night. But I like it better than to drill. There are always one hundred and twenty men that goes on — one company. Then we go out in the woods about five miles from home. But we didn’t see no rebels, but our cavalry captured fifty rebels and some horses and cattle and wagons.

And further I let you know that our regiment was out this forenoon a drilling but this afternoon we have nothing to do but I wish you could be here to see all the soldiers that are in the field. General Siegel’s whole army is out this afternoon a drilling but we hain’t. But if you would be here, we would go out and see them. But I won’t go out — it is nothing new to me. I don’t want to see more of drilling. I am just tired of it. I would rather see you and talk with you than to see everything else.

And now I must come to a close with military matters. I think I have wrote enough of it and must write something else. And further I let you know that I and [my brother] Peter received that letter this week that you and Louisa wrote and you had stated in that letter that I never wrote about coming home and I won’t promise either because I don’t know whether I can come or not. But if I can come, I will. But I don’t believe I can come till my time is up. I would like to come but then I would like to stay. I think it would go harder [saying goodbye] than it went the first time. Perhaps you think I am very tired of war but you better believe it. You always write that I should tell you the truth and so I intend to do. I never write you any lies. And further I let you [know] if you want to butcher and hain’t got nothing to put your lard in, then go down to Hiram Santee and get a lard stenner and tell him to charge it to me. He owes me yet.

And further, I will let you know that had stated in your last letter that you would like to know how that man is getting along that was shot. But he is most well again. I seen him today and he can walk again. I think he will be fit for duty before long and his name is Engler. He comes from Kreidlersville. He is single yet. And further I will let you know that I received a letter of [your brother] Josiah [Moyer] yesterday and I answered it last night. And I will send it to you. Then you can read it. And tell my parents that I and [my brother] Peter is well and write soon and direct your letter as before.

Yours truly friend, — T. Harman

Give my love to all enquiring friends.


LETTER ELEVEN

In his last letter from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania at Chantilly, Harman tell his wife that the weather has turned very cold — “as cold as Greenland.” To keep warm, he tells her,  “We have burned all the rails within two miles. I think if the war keeps on longer, the whole South will be in one field.”

Chantilly, Fairfax county, Virginia
December 9th 1862

Dear Louisa,

With pleasure I sit down this evening to drop a few lines to let you know that I hain’t frozen yet but we had some very cold weather this week and the latter part of it last week. It commenced to snow last Friday noon and it snowed till ten o’clock in the night and then it cleared off and got as cold as Greenland. I and seventeen of our men went out on picket duty that day when it snowed but then I thought of home and my good bed but we had no bed to go in. We made a house of corn stalks and went in but it could not stop — it was too cold. We made a good fire and laid around it — those that were [not] on guard. Still, I had it better than the rest of the men. I had nothing to do but to put the guard at their place and we was out 48 hours.

We left the camp on Friday noon and came back again on Sunday afternoon in the camp. But now the weather is nice again and the snow is most all gone. The snow was about three inches deep. But I think you had more snow than we had. I really believe it is as cold here as it is at home. They always said that it was so warm in Virginia but if I ever come home and they say that to me, I will call them liars.

And further I will let you know that we got marching orders just now. We will leave tomorrow morning but I don’t know where we will go to. I think we will go to Fairfax and take our winter’s quarters. I think we would [have] stayed here but the wood is too scarce to get here. We have cut it most all down and we burned all the rails within two miles. I think if the war keeps on longer, the whole South will be in one field. But the talk is very much of settling the war and I wish the God they would because I am tired of it long ago and I think all the rest of our regiment [are too]. I wouldn’t care so much if we only had better quarters to sleep in but I think we will get them before long.

And also I let you know that I would like if you would write oftener to me. I generally write three to your one. I look every mail for a letter but it is all in vain. You ought to write at least once a week. I would like to hear of you everyday but that can’t be. And now I must close. I would like to write more but I hain’t got no time. I must pack my knapack and make ready to march. I think we will start pretty early in the morning. I had inteded to write home but I hain’t got no time. But if you receive this letter, then tell my parents that I am well and so is [my brother] Peter and he likes camp life just as good as I do. And write soon and direct your letter as before.

Yours truly, — Theodore Harman


LETTER TWELVE

In this letter, Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Dumfries, Virginia, on the eve of the Battle of Fredericksburg. He tells her of the “very hard march” from Chantilly and of the large number of soldiers amassed by Gen. Burnsides — “I seen more soldiers this morning than I ever seen. They are all moving down to Fredericksburg.”

[Camp] Dumphries, Virginia
December 14th 1862

Dear wife,

I sit down this Sunday morning to drop a few lines to let you know that I received your kind & welcome letter this morning and was very glad to hear from you again. And now I must let you know that we had a very hard march and hain’t done marching yet. We have marched now for days through the mud and dirt till over our shoes. That was the hardest job that I ever had but this morning I feel good. I am ready for another march and I think we will march off very shortly. I thought we would take off already but we wait for our rations. They are all we just got two crackers and one pound of steak for one day and that was rare but the men ate it raw. But I can’t do that. I just threw my steak in the fire till it was roasted, then I ate it. I tell you, Louisa, soldiering is a hard life but I like it better than I did. I think we will be down in Fredericksburg tomorrow. Then we will have some fighting to do. But that is just what I like.

I seen more soldiers this morning than I ever seen [before]. They are all moving down to Fredericksburg. They’ve been marching through this place since this morning daylight but I think we will start pretty soon too and I think they are about 30 thousand of soldiers that camped here last night and they are all going down to Fredericksburg. And if we are all down, they are about three hundred thousand soldiers there.

And further I let you know that the tobacco is very scarce here. There is no tobacco in camp anymore. If we only had that plenty, then we could fight better.

And now I must close and pack my knapsack and march. But our men is all in good spirit and those that can’t go along, them we put in the hospital [here at Dumfries]. We have eight in the hospital but I am well and I would like to go in. I would like to be with the crowd. And no more at present.

Yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman

Write soon and direct as before and excuse my bad writing because I am in a hurry and give my best respects to all enquiring friends.


LETTER THIRTEEN

On the morning of December 15th, the 153rd Pennsylvania Infantry marched on to Falmouth, arriving there on the 16th but were never put into action at the Battle of Fredericksburg. Writing from their camp near Stafford Court House four days later, Harman tells his wife of the fighting at Fredericksburg in which her brother Josiah Moyer was wounded while fighting with Co. D, 129th Pennsylvania Infantry. The 129th Pennsylvania, led by Col. Jacob Frick, was in the First Brigade (commanded by Brig. Gen. Erastus B. Tyler), which was in the Third Division (commanded by Brig. Gen. George Sykes), of the V Corps (commanded by Daniel Butterfield). The 129th Pennsylvania participated in the senseless assault on Marye’s Heights in an effort to dislodge Lee’s army from its formidable position. Though not engaged in the fight himself, Harman tells his wife he has already seen enough of war to call it a humbug. “Our officers is too dumb to fight,” he wrote. “They know how to take the men in the fight but they don’t know how to get them out.”

Camp near Stafford’s Court House, Virginia
December 20th 1862

Dear wife,

I sit down this afternoon with a sad heart to drop a few lines to you and to your parents to let you know that I have just arrived from the camp where [your brother] Josiah ¹ was camped. I went out yesterday and stayed till this forenoon but when I came to the camp, I enquired for Company D [129th Pennsylvania Infantry] and when I found it, I went to the tent where there I seen Hiram Hankee [Hankey] and P. Rime and Ed Brinker. And then I asked where Josiah was and then they told me that was wounded and was in the hospital. Then that broke my heart to hear such news but they said he was just slightly wounded. The doctor dressed the wound and took the ball out and then he felt better again. But the doctor said that it weren’t dangerous with him.

And John Schiffer is wounded and taken prisoner but he is paroled but not exchanged yet. And James Heller is in the hospital too but he has got the rheumatism. He wasn’t in the battle and he can be glad of it. They say it was awful to see our men fall and the balls came just like hail and killed our men like flies. The loss [in] killed, wounded, and taken prisoner of that regiment was about one hundred and forty men and out of Company D was twelve wounded and two killed and four taken prisoner and a few missing.

But they told me that they have seen enough of fighting. They don’t want to see more of it. War is a bad thing to hear of but it is worse to see it. I think I have seen enough of it too. I don’t want to see more of it either. I am just seen enough of it if I only wouldn’t never see more of it. It is nothing but humbug and money machine. Our officers is too dumb to fight. They know how to take the men in the fight but they don’t know how to get them out. I think our loss is about ten thousand killed and wounded and the rebels is about twenty-five hundred killed and wounded. That’s what the rebel paper says.

And further I must let you know that I received your kind letter dated the 12th and was glad to hear of you. But I feel very sorry for Julie that she isn’t well. But I hope she will get well before long. And further I must let you know that I received them likenesses and that tobacco that you sent to Josiah and I will keep them and take good care of them if it don’t go like it went with them that you send to Josiah before. I think the rebels got them because he had them in his knapsack and when they went in the fight, they put their knapsacks off and the rebels got them all and they lost everything that they had. They hain’t got no tents and no blankets and they had some new clothes in their knapsacks and everything is gone. I pity the poor boys. They almost freeze. But I think they will get their tents and blankets very shortly. But they have plenty to eat and drink. I think they have more than we have but still we have now more than we had. We was very short last week. We was most starved. We had no crackers for two days. I never in my life was so hungry as I was last week. I never knowed what hunger was but I guess I know now.

And further I let you know a little about our march. We left Camp Dumphries last Monday morning and marched about fourteen miles that day and then we camped till next morning. And then it rained and was very unpleasant. And at about eight o’clock we sat started again and then it cleared off and got nice again. But the roads was very muddy and hard marching. At ten o’clock we came at Stafford Court House and there we camped two days. Then we marched off about three miles further and now we camp here in the woods but I don’t know how long we will stay here.

We are about ten miles from Fredericksburg but they say we will go back again to Fairfax [Court House]. But if we must march back again, we must have shoes. We are almost bare footed. Our shoes are worn out. But I think we will get them before long. But other clothes, I have plenty. I have two good overcoats but I wish one of them was at home. I have plenty without one. I found one. The clothes is plenty. The camps are all full of good clothes but the shoes is very scarce.

And further I will let you know that the weather is very cold some days. But we haven’t snow. But the ground is froze hard. I tell you, Louisa, it is very cold sleeping. I don’t sleep as warm as I did last winter but I hope the time will come that we can sleep together again — if it is God’s will. And further I will let you know that George Andrews is in the hospital and two of [   ] boys and Benjamin Nicholas and Samuel Stanner [  ]. I think they will come to the company before long. They are getting better again.

And now I must close my letter. It is too cold to write. I am sitting at the fire and it smokes so bad that I hardly can’t write and our dinner is ready and we have bean soup and steak for dinner. No more at present. Write soon and give my best respect to all inquiring friends and tell my parents that I am well and also [brother] Peter.

And direct your letter as before and excuse my dirty letter. I can’t keep things as clean.

From your friend, — Theodore Harman

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Officers of the 153rd Pennsylvania, December 1862

¹ The roster of Co. D, 129th Pennsylvania Infantry records Josiah’s name as “Joseph H. Moyer” but Theodore consistently refers to him as “Josiah” in his letters. The company records indicates that Pvt. Moyer enlisted on 11 August 1862 and was wounded at Fredericksburg, Va., on 13 December 1862. He mustered out with his company on 18 May 1863 after nine month’s service.


LETTER FOURTEEN

Harman writes his wife on New Year’s Day from the camp of the the 153rd Pennsylvania three miles from Stafford Court House. To celebrate the new year, Harman tells his wife, “We drawed some whiskey today and some drinked too much and got tight… I laughed more today than I did for a long time to see some of the fellers fall out.”

Camp near Stafford Court House, Virginia
January 1st 1863

My dear and beloved wife,

I take the opportunity of writing a few lines to you to let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter dated the 24th and was very glad to hear of you again. And further I let you know that I am well but we have very many in our regiment that are sick and there died three already — one on Christmas and one in hospital and one died this morning — and there are several that are very sick yet. But we had a good many in the hospital in Dumfries. ¹ But last Saturday they had a fight there [and] that fetched our men [back here]. They came to our camp on Tuesday night and was very much frightened. They said that there was some in the hospital that was hardly fit to walk but when they commenced to fight, they runned like white heads.

And furher I let you know we have a very pleasant New Year. It was pretty cold last night but it is very nice today again. But I think it colder at your house than what it is here. I think you have [   ] today. And now I let you know that some of our men had some gay times today. We drawed some whiskey today and then some drinked too much and got tight. That was something new to some of these old whiskey [  ]. It seemed to me just like [B   ]. I laughed more today than I did for a long time to see some of the fellers fall out. I think they would [have] fought [each other] but it is against the rules. But every little snot nose is very sorry here. They know that they daren’t hurt them.

And further I let you know that we must go out on picket tomorrow again. We are out every four days but I like it better than to stay in the camp. And now I will tell you that we are very close to the rebels. I think they are only a few miles from our camp. But if they come and attack us, they will come in a pretty good fix. But I would rather wish they would stay away and leave us alone.

And now I must close and you must excuse my bad writing. I can’t write. I cut my finger with the razor. It is no mortal wound but it still bothers me of writing. No more at present.

Yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman

Enclosed you will find fifty cents. I wish you would send me post[age] stamps for they are very scarce here.


¹ Harman is referring to the raid by Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart who led 1800 horsemen out of Fredericksburg to harass Burnside’s army retreating from Falmouth. Stuart’s cavalry struck at Dumfries, 22 miles above Fredericksburg where many wounded Union soldiers were hospitalized. 


LETTER FIFTEEN

Harman writes his wife from the winter encampment of the 153rd Pennsylvania three miles from Stafford Court House, letting her know that he is well and in good spirits. He tells her his bed fellows are Capt. Myers and Lieutenants Crawford and Stotz. He also claims that if he had his shoemaking tools, he could make a lot of money replacing soles on the men’s shoes which are falling apart.

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Patriotic Envelope

Camp near Stafford Court House, Virginia
January 8th 1863

Dear wife,

With pleasure I sit down to drop a few lines to you to let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter last Sunday and was very glad to hear from you again and to hear that you are well and in good spirits as I am. I begin to feel like home again since we have got our new house. I wish you could see our new house. It is about twelve feet long and about eight feet wide and about seven feet high. And we have a very good bed in [it] — not just a good bed but we call it very good because we hardly know what is good. We call everything good since we are in the service of Uncle Sam. And we have a good fire place in it and it is very comfortable in.

And now I will tell you who is my bed fellows — [Lt. William H.] Crawford and [Lt. Reuben J.] Stotz and [Capt.] Joseph Myers. We sleep together but I don’t think that we will stay long together because they want me and Crawford to do all the work and that we won’t do. But we are willing to do our share. But no more. But Stotz and Myers, they don’t want to do nothing. They are too lazy to work. But Crawford is always busy. The time I am writing, he sits aside of me and mends his pants. We are sitting on the bed.

LtWilliamHCrawford
Lt. William H. Crawford, Co. I, 153rd PA

And further I must let you know that we have had very nice weather. Last week it was very warm. It seemed just like spring. The singing of the birds was heard in every direction. But this week it is a little colder. It was very cold last night. The ground was froze very hard. I thought it would snow till this morning but it cleared off again and got very nice and warm again.

And further I must let you know that we have very much duty to do. We must go out on picket every four days and we must drill twice a day if we hain’t on picket.

And now I must stop writing. It is two o’clock and [we] must go and drill till four o’clock. And if I come back, then I will finish this letter. And now I come back from drilling and I feel very good. It was a very good exercise for me. We went double quick and I tell you, our company drills better than any one in the regiment. And we have the least sick men in the regiment. We have but two that are on the sick list at present and others have from ten to twelve. I think we have the hardest [heartiest] company in the regiment.

And further I let you know that we have plenty to eat and to drink. And we got shoes and clothes today. But it was time. Our shoes was very poor. But if they tear, they throw them away. They don’t get them mended. They charge one dollar for to sole one pair of shoes. If I only had my shoemakers’s tools here and sole leather, I could make many a dollar. If I would know that we would stay here all winter, then I would send for it but it would be too much to carry.

And now I must close. My paper is full and this is the last paper that I have. I must stop writing letters. I would willingly write oftener but my paper and stamps is very scarce. No more at present. Write soon and direct your letter as before.

— The. Harman


LETTER SIXTEEN

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Brooks Station, Virginia, south of Accokeek Creek. Over the course of the next few days, numerous regiments would join them in nearby encampments and man earthworks erected to protect the Union army’s critical supply port at Aquia Creek, some six miles to the north. Brooks Station was on the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac (R. F. & P.) Railroad. Harman tells his wife the regiment was paid in Greenbacks but he wanted them exchanged for currency issued by Eastern banks which he considered more stable. He also tells her they have built winter quarters again — for the fourth time — and he fears they will be moved once again before spring.

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
January 31st [1863]

My dear and beloved wife,

I again desire to address a few lines to you to let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter dated the 26th and was very glad to hear from you. And also I let you know that Uncle Sam was here today and gave us a little money but he only paid us for one month and six days, But he said he would come in three weeks again and then he would pay us two months wages more. And so I thought I would send you only five dollars for this time but I intend to send you more next time. I only got twenty dollars and forty cents and I send the rest to my Father. I want him to get it exchanged. I think I would rather have Eastern money than to have greenbacks but I can tell you the boys felt good when they got the greenbacks. But I am afraid it won’t last long.

As soon as some had the money, they went and bought boots for nine dollars but I won’t buy none. I think I can make out with my shoes. I have my second pair of shoes since I am in the service but I think I can make out till I come home like I intend to but we have served over the half of our time.

And also I let you know that [Sgt.] Hiram Hankey [Co. D, 129th Pennsylvania Infantry] was here yesterday in our camp and he is well and he said that they had orders to go in winter quarters. Their camp is about two miles and a half from our camp.

And further I let you know that we have had a very deep snow. I think it was over one foot deep but it is most all gone now again. I had stated in my other letter that we would leave here but now I don’t know when. We have built our quarters again but I think we won’t stay long. We have now built our quarters now four times but they don’t look on that — they just fool us from one place to another.

And now I must close and excuse my scribbling. I was in a great hurry. If you can’t read this, then just wait till I come home. Then I will try and read them. Write soon and tell me whether you receive this or not.

Yours truly husband, — Theodore Harman


LETTER SEVENTEEN

In this letter from Brook Station, Harman tells his wife it is so cold in their winter quarters that they have to stay in bed all day to keep warm. He tells her that many of the men are sick and may not survive the harsh winter. He also informs her of a detail he led to Aquia Landing.

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
February 5, 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I have some spare time and so I thought I would drop a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and in good spirits. And further I let you know that it snows and blows very bad today but I don’t care much about it. I intend to stay in bed all day. I won’t get up no more than I must. We have got a very good house but no fire in. But if we stay in bed, then we can keep warm for all. We have had very cold weather this week and last week we had several snow storms and the ground is frozen very hard. I think it will get warm in a few days again.

And further I let you know that [my cousin] Harris Santee ¹ was here this week.  He looks better than I ever seen him. He is well and in good spirits. He is very tired of this war as well as I am but then our time is over half round. I think our time is up till the tenth of June. Then we can come home. Won’t that be a happy time — if we all can go to our happy homes again? I don’t think that we all can come home. I think if the weather stays so, there is a many a one that will die yet till spring. There is some in our regiment that is very sick and Samuel Bauer is very sick. He is in the hospital and they think that he won’t never get well again. They think he has got the consumption. But then still he may get well again. But don’t tell Mrs. Russell [or] else she will trouble herself about it.

And also I let you know that we intend to stay here till spring. And I wish we would. We have good times here. I have only been on duty one day since we are here and then it wasn’t no hard work. I took sixteen men up to the Aquia Landing to load a car of clothing. But [even] then we went on the cars up and down. It was good work.

And now I will bring my short letter to a close for this time. Write soon and tell me whether you have received them likenesses or not. I sent them to you about two or three weeks ago.

No more at present. Yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman


¹ William Harrison (“Harry”) Santee (1840-1899) was Harman’s cousin. He initially served in Co. E, 41st Pennsylvania Infantry but was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps on 1 September 1863 due to poor health. Harry was the son of John Santee (1798-1868) and Leah Steinmetz (1821-1920) of Easton, Northampton county, Pennsylvania.


LETTER EIGHTEEN

In this letter, Harman tells his wife that they were visited by Gen. Joseph Hooker, now in command of the Army of the Potomac. He tells her that he has to perform the duties of the Orderly Sergeant since 1st Sgt. Elon Kotz has gone home on a furlough. He also sends her some money he earned from barbering.

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
February 11th [17th?] 1863

Dear wife,

With pleasure I sit down this afternoon to address a few lines to you to let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter last night and was very glad to hear from you again. I was in bed when the mail came in. It was about ten o’clock when it came in. I heard them call my name, then I got up and received a letter from you. It was so long that I haven’t heard from you that I felt quite lost but this enjoyed me again. I would like to hear from you at least every week.

And further I let you know that we have had a very nice day yesterday. We had a Grand Review. General Hooker paid us a visit. In the forenoon we drilled and in the afternoon we marched out about two miles from our camp and held a general review [of] the whole brigade. There was five regiments but our regiment was the best in the field. I wish you could see our regiment drill once. Then you could see more than if you would go on the Battalion.

LtReubenJStotz
Lt. Reuben J. Stotz, Co. I, 153rd PA

And now I must let you know that it snows all day and is very unpleasant. I keep in bed most all day — I and Capt. [Joseph Meyers] & [Lt. Reuben] Stotz. We all three sit in bed and write. But now Stotz, he is tired of writing. Now he laid himself down to take a knap.

And further I let you know that we have plenty to eat and drink. We get tea and coffee, and crackers and bread, and pork and beef, & onions & potatoes, and that is about all that I want. And we have very little work to do. Still, I am busy always at cutting [hair] or at something else. But now, since [1st Sgt. Elon] Kotz is going home, I have more to do. I must act [as] Orderly Sergeant. But the boys all would be very glad if he never wouldn’t come [back] anymore. They don’t like him but don’t say nothing that he finds it out.

And now I must close my letter. It is most too cold to write and you must excuse my scribbling and write soon. Capt. [Myers] sends his best respects to you all. Enclosed you will find three dollars in this letter that I send to you. This I made with cutting hair. No more at present. Write soon and tell me whether you receive.

Louisa, enclosed you will find two dollars which I will send to you again. And anytime if you want anything, just get it. I would send more but I hain’t got more. The paymaster wasn’t here yet. We expect him every day and as soon as you receive this, then let me know. I think you receive all the money that I send to you.


LETTER NINETEEN

Harman writes his wife to let her know that he is is still well and in good spirits at the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Brooks Station, Virginia. He responds to allegations that of alcohol abuse levied at his colonel and captain, tells her of some sickness in the regiment which included his brother Peter, and finally rationalizes why it would be inadvisable for him to seek a furlough.

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
February 24th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

Yours dated the 19th was received on the 23th inst. and was very glad to hear from you again [and] to hear that you are all well and in good spirits and that is the same with me. I am well and like [the] soldier’s life better everyday.

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Col. Charles Glanz — “I think he is the best officer in the regiment.” (TH)

And further you had stated in your letter that you heard that our colonel [Charles Glanz] and our captain [Joseph S. Myers]  was drunk everyday and wouldn’t mind their business but that hain’t so with our colonel. I think he is the best officer in the regiment. But about our captain, I don’t want to say nothing. He generally treats me well enough. I can’t complain about him. You know he is very young yet he may get wiser yet.

And also you want to know how [my brother] Peter is. He is well again but he was unwell for few weeks ago. He was in the regimental hospital but I think he had the homesick[ness] too, but don’t say nothing else [for] he might get angry if he would find it out. He had it very bad [but] he says it hain’t so but I know better. And now I will tell you we have only two sick in our company and their names I will tell you. One is Samuel Stanner & [the other is] William Warner ¹ but Samuel Bauer, he is sick too, but he is in the hospital but where, I don’t know.

And now I must let you know that we had a very unpleasant snow storm on Sunday last. It snowed all day. I think the snow was about twelve or fifteen inches deep. But I can tell you, Louisa, it was very unpleasant. Our bed was covered with snow. But now it is clear and warm again. But as I am writing, I and [Lt. William H.] Crawford, we both are sitting in bed and are writing.

And further I must let you know that you had stated in your letter that would be glad if I would come home on a furlough. And I would like to come but [the] captain won’t let me go. I was at him more than a dozen times but he said I had no business at home. And for another thing, I don’t care much about going home. Yes, I would like to go, but then I would like to stay [at home]. It’s hardly worthwhile for [me] to go on ten days. And now I must let you know that I wrote a letter to you and sent three dollars along and if you receive that, then let me know and write soon and don’t forget me. No more at present.

Yours truly, — Theodore Harman


¹ Both Privates Samuel Stanner and William Warner were captured at Chancellorsville in May 1863 but both mustered out with the company in July 1863.


LETTER TWENTY

Harman writes his wife that he and a few others from the regiment took an excursion from Brooks Station, walking some six miles down to Falmouth just to see the Rappahannock river and to look upon the battlefield on the heights beyond the Rebel-occupied city of Fredericksburg. He tells her that on the way back they visited the camp of the 129th Pennsylvania in which her brother Josiah Moyer served, and then “went home with very tired legs” after a tramp of some 15 miles.

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
March 3, 1863

Dear wife,

I take the present opportunity to address a few lines to you to let you know that I am well at present but very tired. I had a very hard tramp today. I have been down to Fredericksburg today and that was the hardest march I ever had. I and William Myers and Joe and some others left here this morning and walked down and took a view and seen the rebel’s pickets and heard the rebel’s band and seen the battlefield where [your brother] Josiah was in and heard the rebels holler but seen very few of them. And then we left there at about eleven o’clock and went back to the 129th [Pennsylvania] and found them all well. But we didn’t stay very long. Then we went home with very tired legs.

And further I let you know that this is the third letter that I wrote this week and haven’t received one yet. I can’t see what is the reason that you don’t write oftener. Have you forgotten me or what is the reason? And I have wrote one to Henry Fehr about one month ago and no answer yet. It appears to me as if you don’t care about me anymore but I think I can do without you as good as you can do without me. And if you don’t write, then it saves me a trouble [because] then I needn’t answer. But still I would rather answer if I only would get them to answer.

And now I must close my short letter else you might think it was sassy. Excuse all sassiness.

Yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman to his wife, Louisa Harman

Write soon. Good night.


LETTER TWENTY-ONE

In his lonesomeness, Harman writes his wife a somewhat “sassy” letter complaining that she doesn’t write him often enough.

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
March 9th 1863

Dear wife,

I again desire to address a few lines to you to inform you that I am still yet in the land of the living but whether you are yet, I do not know. I think not. It appears to me that you had forgotten me or else, dear. I am a looking for a letter from you these couple weeks but it is all in vain. I may be mistaken. Perhaps you may be far worse then and I don’t get them. But it seems so lonesome since I don’t get anymore [letters.] If you don’t intend to write anymore, then tell me so that I don’t trouble myself about it.

And I also let you know that I hain’t quite well at present. I have a heavy cold [and] I must cough very much. I think I will be  well in a few days again but the weather is very unhealthy just now. It rains most everyday. We have good quarters but very damp. Our blankets get wet most every night. Then you may well think that a body gets cold.

And now I must close and take it to the post office and we must drill this afternoon. The weather is very pleasant today but we had a thunder shower last night. It cleared up and is very mild. No more at present. Write soon.

Yours truly, — Theodore Harman


LETTER TWENTY-TWO

Harman writes his wife that he thinks of her and of his home every hour of the day but — somewhat insensitively — tells her that, “I like the soldier’s life better than I ever did because we have plenty to eat and drink and not much work to do.”

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
March 10, 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I again take the present opportunity to address a few lines to you to let you know that your welcome letter came at hand last night and was dated on the 25th of February. I can’t see what is [the] reason that it takes so long for the letters to come but you must excuse me for writing them sassy letters to you. I think I blamed you [     ] I believe you. I tell you, Louisa, I felt lonesome for not getting no letters from you. The time seems very long. I have been always waiting till ten o’clock at night for a letter but it was all in vain. But this is the greatest pleasure for me when I get a letter from you. There is no hour passes that I don’t think of you — yes, no half hour. I always lay in my bed at night and think of you at home, but the time will soon come that we can see each other again, if [it is] God’s will. I hope it is.

You had stated in your letter that our time was only half round but I think today [we only have] three months [left]. Then our time is up. But if it is a little longer, I don’t care. I must say I like [the] soldier’s life better than I ever did because we have plenty to eat and drink and not much work to do. But if the weather gets nice again, then we must drill every day. But yesterday it was very nice and warm and now today it snows again and is very unpleasant. But the weather changes very often in Virginia — one day rain, next day warm and sunshine, next day cold and snow again. But still I don’t care if it rains every once and awhile [for] that keeps us from drilling and from moving.

And further I let you know that I am well again. I must cough every once in awhile yet but I have a good appetite again and feel myself much better again and all our men is well in our company. We have none on the sick list at present. They are all in good health and in good spirits.

And enclosed you will find two dollars again that I send to you. I should send you more but I sent three dollars home to my little sister last week. I thought I would send them something too. I sent William and Alice each a five cents stamp.

And now I must close. I don’t know what to write anymore and I want you to write some again or else I might scold again. You needn’t be particular with your writing. I can read your letters all and what I can’t read, I spell. But I am afraid you can’t read my scribbling and if you can’t [read] them then wait till I come home. Then I will read them for you.


LETTER TWENTY-THREE

When Joe Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac, he found the men dispirited and dejected by the devastating loss at Fredericksburg. To raise their spirits, he reorganized them into Corps and gave them unique badges to distinguish them from one another as well as to instill pride. Mirroring that newfound optimism, Harman writes his wife that that the men are “all well and in good fighting order.” Though he would rather not fight, he tells her, “if I should happen to come into one, I think I would fight like a tiger.” He also tells her he is enclosing an ambrotype that he had taken recently but it was of such poor quality the photographic artist gave it to him for free. 

Camp near Brooks Station, Virginia
March 14th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I again take the present opportunity to address a few lines to you to let you know that yours dated the 6th came at hand on the 11th and [I] was very glad to hear from you — especially if you are well. I would like to hear of you every day but I expect you didn’t know what to write.

And further I let you know that I am well and in good spirits. We have very bad cold weather at present. It is as cold as Greenland. I think we have the coldest weather that we had this winter yet but no snow. I like cold better than warm and wet. I think it is much healthier. Also, I let you know that our men is all well and in good fighting order. I think we will get the chance to fight before long. But for my part, I would rather not fight. If I should happen to come in[to one], I think I would fight like a tiger. The Rebels is very near our picket line. They drove our pickets in the other night. I think if they come, we will give them rats.

And further I let you know that the report is here that our regiment is a going back to the Pennsylvania line. But how true it is, I don’t know. And now I will let you know that our time will soon pass by that we will come home — that’s if we live so long. But I think if we arrive safe home, the half will enlist again. They all begin to like it but I don’t think that I ever will enlist again without I must go. But if I come home safe, I won’t say that I won’t go again — but not for a soldier but for speculation. I think I could make more money if I wasn’t a soldier.

IMG_0264
Ambrotype of Theodore Harman taken in March 1863 at Brooks Station, Va. — “I hant quite so black.” — (TH)

And now I must close with military matters. And further I let you know that I bought two books — one for William and the other for Alice. And if I get the chance, I will send them to you and you give each one and let them keep them nice and clean. Also, I send you my likeness but it isn’t taken very good. It was most too cold. ¹ It got very dark. But I hain’t quite so black. And they charge 75 cents for such a likeness but he didn’t charge me anything for it. I shall help him [as an assistant] if I get the time.

And now I will let you know [that during] the time I was writing this letter I received another letter from you and it was dated the 9th. And this is the third letter that I received from you this week and the third that I write to you. But Louisa, you must forgive me for writing you so sassy. I shan’t do so no more. But I tell you, Louisa, I felt quite lost for not receiving any letter so long from you. I read your letter with the greatest pleasure. And further I let you know that [my brother] Peter got a dispatch this evening that he should come home [saying] that Flora was very sick. But now I don’t know whether he can go or not.

No more at present. So much from yours truly, — Theodore Harman

Write soon and write more and tell me how Dick is a coming along. I mean the dog. And tell Maria that George Andrew sends his best respects to her.

Fight for the Union, not for the niggers.


¹ The temperature of silver bath and fixers used to develop ambrotypes needed to be at least in the 40’s so those in the “likeness business” working in the field near army encampments had great difficulty getting their images to turn out properly.


LETTER TWENTY-FOUR

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her that Adam Schiffer from his old neighborhood has arrived at their camp and set up shop in the “likeness business” with Kuntzman (another Northampton county resident).

Camp near Potomac Bridge, Virginia
March 22nd 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I again take the present opportunity to address a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and hope the time these few lines will reach you, that you are the same state of good health. And further I let you [know] that we are at our old camp yet and I don’t know how long we will stay yet. But I think we will stay a few weeks yet. We expect to have a fight here before long. They fight most every day along the Rappahannock not far from us. But let them rip — we are ready for them.

And further I let you know that we had a very unpleasant snow storm on the 20th and 21st and now today it is raining and very uncomfortable. But I hope this winter is most over. I would be very glad if it wouldn’t snow anymore. I am just tired of this snow now. But I think you have plenty of it too.

And further I let you know that Adam Schiffer ¹ arrived in our camp on the 19th and he is in partnership with Kuntzman in the Likeness Business. I think he just went from home on account of drafting but we ought to chase him home and make him go for a soldier.

And further I let you know that I think [my brother] Peter will go home on a furlough. I think I will come home too if my nine months is up but no sooner. I asked Captain this morning again but he said it wasn’t worthwhile anymore to go. We have but three months to stay and so I don’t want to spend the money. It would cost at least about fifteen dollars and so I wouldn’t like to spend that much for such a short time. But you think perhaps I don’t want to come. I would like to go home very bad but I [can’t afford] the cost. But the time will soon pass by and that is all we can do, if it is God’s will. I hope and trust it is. And then we will talk about camp life. But I tell you, Louesa, anybody that makes a winter campaign in Virginia, he knows what soldier’s life is. Our men are all well and in good order. We have just one sick man in our company and that is Rudy Casler but he is better again. I don’t think that it was very dangerous with him.

And further I will let you know that we haven’t received no pay yet but we expect to get pay before long. And now I must bring my short letter to a close because I don’t know what to write. I wish you would write as soon as you receive these few lines and give my best respects to all — especially to your father and mother.

Excuse my poor writing. So much from yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman

And here I send a letter for my sister. I wish you would take it up without fail.


¹ Adam Schiffer (1838-Aft1920) was the son of George Schiffer (1802-1864) and Christina Maria Polly Fehr (1806-1875) of Bushkill, Northampton county, Pennsylvania. Apparently Adam and John Schiffer got into the “likeness business” for the 1865 registry of photographers for the Army of the Potomac shows that Adam Schiffer, assisted by J. Schiffer and C. Stucki” was the official photographer of the 1st Division Cavalry Corps in 1865.


LETTER TWENTY-FIVE

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her they are expecting Gov. Curtin to pay a visit and so they are using evergreens to decorate the camp.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, Virginia
March 24th 1863

Dear wife,

Your long waited letter came at hand tonight with the greatest pleasure. It was a great while that I received the last letter from you. It was ten days this evening that I received the last letter from you and that seems very long to me if not hearing from you no sooner. But it would enjoy enjoy me very much to hear from you oftener. But the time will soon come that we can talk together again if [it is] God’s will. And if not on Earth, I hope in Heaven where there is no more war.

I also let you know that I feel very lonesome now. [Lt. William H.] Crawford went out on picket and he will stay four days. And [Lt. Reuben] Stotz went home and now I and Captain [Joseph Myers] is alone in the tent. Yesterday I was on guard and I didn’t sleep anything last night and so I intend to go to bed pretty early tonight.

And further I let you know that are a fixin’ our camp very nice with spruce and other green trees. We expect Governor Curtin to pay us a visit and so we are making everything nice and clean. I wish you could be here only one day and see our camp. It looks very beautiful.

And also I let you know that it rains very fast tonight but still tomorrow it may be nice and pleasant again. One day it rains and [the] next day snow and the next [day] pleasant. And so the weather changes very often here in Virginia. But I think it is in Pennsylvania the same. But I don’t care if it rains every other day. Then it keeps us from drilling and moving. But the reports is here that the Eleventh Corps will move up to Washington in the fortifications. But how true it is, I don’t know. I wish it was true. I am just tired of Virginia. It is a mean looking country.

And further I let you know that we have everything plenty to eat and to drink. We get altogether bread. We didn’t get no crackers, I think, in about three weeks, but I am glad if we don’t get no hard[tack] anymore. I am very tired of them.

And now I must close for this time. Perhaps I [will] know more to write next time. This leaves me well. Goodbye, Louesa. Write soon and write more.

— Theodore Harman


LETTER TWENTY-SIX

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her that Gov. Curtin visited the camp during the previous week and that President Lincoln is coming soon. Though he’s gaining weight and enjoying the soldier’s life, he reassures her he is not likely to reenlist.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, [Virginia]
April the 3rd 1863

Dear wife,

I again take the present time to address a few lines to you to let you know that I was a looking for a letter this long time. But I believe it is all in vain. I am writing every week one or two letters but no answer. I looked every mail last week but no letter and then I thought perhaps you would send one with [Lt. Reuben] Stotz but it was all in vain. And then I thought I would get one tonight but the mail came in and no letter again. And so I believe it isn’t worthwhile for me to write anymore. I feel very sad and lonesome for not hearing from you so long. But perhaps you write and I don’t get them. But I sent you my likeness and I think you got it. Since that I sent you two dollars but I don’t know whether you got it or not.

And further I let you know that I received a letter from [your brother] Josiah from Washington and he arrived safe. And further I let you know that Governor Curtin was here last week and President Lincoln is a coming tomorrow to pay us a visit. And so we must fix our camp nice.

And further I let you know that we had marching orders this week but then the orders was counterdicted [countermanded] again. And now I think we will stay again. But I wish we would stay here till our time was up. I like it very well here. We have a very nice place here.

And further I let you know that James Heller and Hiram Hankey [of the 129th Pennsylvania] was here last Sunday. James looks good again. And further I let you know that I gained 22 lbs. since I left home. I weigh 160 lb. and I never weighed that much yet but I never had such good times in all my life as I have now. But we have everything plenty to eat and to drink. We get altogether bread now and of the very best kind. The boys all like soldiering very good now again. I think more than the half will enlist again but I don’t think that I will.

And now I must bring my letter to a close. It is about ten o’clock and the rest is all in bed and soon I will go too. And so goodnight. I don’t think that I and you will have so much fun this Easter as we had last year, you know. Write soon.

— Theodore Harman

And don’t forget to write soon.


LETTER TWENTY-SEVEN

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her that if he was single, he might reenlist after his time was out but since he is not, he won’t.

Camp near Potomac Bridge [Virginia]
April 10th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I again sit down this morn with the greatest pleasure to answer your kind and welcome letters and was very glad to hear from you again. It was so long that I have heard from you. It was three weeks that I received the last letter from you but then this morning two of your letters came at hand. One was dated March the 31st and the other was April the 3rd. I was very uneasy about it but now I am better pleased again.

And further you have stated in your letter that you had heard that I had enlisted again but you needn’t be anxious about it. I am glad if my time is expired that I can come home to my happy home again. There is no place like home. Still I like the soldier’s life better everyday. If I was single, I believe I would enlist again but [I’m not,] so I won’t. And you had stated in your letter about that meat but you may do just as you please about it. But don’t sell the ham and shoulders — I like that myself. I think if I come home, that will be something new to me because I don’t get much ham in Va.

And further I let you know how I will serve Dick if I come home. If he don’t stay at home, I will serve him like I served Jacob Achenbach’s dog. You know how I served him.

And further I let you know that we had a Grand Review yesterday. We expected Abe Lincoln but then he didn’t come. I think he will come today. And further I will let you know that the report is here that we will go back to Harrisburg with the 129th [Pennsylvania] Regiment and stay there and start a new regiment of the two. I think they could too but how true it is, I don’t know. I wish it was so.

And further, tell Anna Maria that George Andrews went out on picket this morning but he growled all morning. You know that he always must grumble when something [doesn’t] suit him. I was glad that I didn’t need to go out on picket. They went out for three days about four miles from our camp.

And now I must close for this time. Write soon and don’t forget. I remain yours truly, — Theodore Harman


Brook Station
Winter Quarters of the 153rd Pennsylvania at Brooks Station as it appeared for the reception of Gov. Andrew G. Curtin. Painting from a sketch made on the spot 11 April 1863 by Newton H. Mack of Co. K.

LETTER TWENTY-EIGHT

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her that President Lincoln visited their camp and that he has been spending some time in the nearby “Likeness Shop” — a field photographic studio operated by his friends from Northampton county, Pennsylvania.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, [Virginia]
April 11th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

With pleasure I take the opportunity to address a few lines again to let you know that I am perfect well and all our men in our company expect Rudy Cassler. He hant quite well yet but I think he will be fit for duty in a few days.

And further I let you know that we had a very nice review yesterday again. President Lincoln was here and paid us a visit but I can tell you that it was full of soldiers. I think there was about fifteen or twenty thousand soldiers there. I wish you could [have] seen them. I would [have] paid five dollars if you could seen all them soldiers. I[‘ve] been thinking about you and wishing you would be here and seen all them soldiers.

And enclosed you will find my likeness and Adam Schiffer’s. I was at their Likeness Shop this morning and then he took my likeness and I took his. And then he said I should send it to your father and he should keep it. And he said he would write him a letter before long.

And also I let you know that we have very pleasant weather at present. It is pretty cold at night but in daytime, it is very warm and dusty. The roads is a getting good if it don’t rain again. But we had a dreadful bad snow. I think it was about four or five inches deep. I hope that was the last snow for this winter.

And now I must bring my letter to a close for this time. Tell my parents that I and [my brother] Peter is both well. I remain yours truly, — Theodore Harman

Excuse bad writing and spelling. And write soon. Goodbye, Louesa.


LETTER TWENTY-NINE

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her the Army of the Potomac seemed to be on the verge of moving toward the Rappahannock river but that heavy rains had swollen the river crossings and delayed the Union advance.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, [Virginia]
April 17th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

With pleasure I take the opportunity to inform you that we are in our old camp yet. We didn’t march off on account of rainy weather but if it had not rained, I think we would [have] been by this time on the other side of the Rappahannock. But it rained dreadful and the river got high so that our soldiers could not cross. Now I don’t know when we will leave this place — lately or not. But I don’t care. I would just as leave this place or not.

And further I let you know that I received your kind and welcome letter last night and was dated on the 10th and was very glad to hear from you again. You had stated in whether you might work in Harvis. You may do as you please in that but if you can get a good place, then I don’t care. And further I let you know that I received a letter from home last night and Susan had stated in that I should send her my likeness with the cap off. But I sent one to you last week and if you get it, then please give it to her if she wants it. If I get the chance, then I will get another one taken for you.

And also I let you know that we drilled this fornoon. We had regimental drill and this afternoon and this evening we had Dress Parade. It made me very tired. I don’t like this drilling — especially when it is warm. I think we will have warm weather enough now. It begins to get pleasant down here in Dixie. The fields begin to get green and the peach trees is in blossom.

And further the report came in camp that Samuel Crawford was taken prisoner but whether it is true, we don’t know. But William is a going over. He is in the 129th [Pennsylvania] Regiment in the same company that [your brother] Josiah is.

And now I must close my letter. I must go on guard — but on camp guard. And now, write as soon as you receive this letter and write all the news that you can. No more at present. I remain yours truly, — Theodore Harman


LETTER THIRTY

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her the regiment is under marching orders and have been requested to send back unnecessary clothing and blankets to Washington D. C. He responds to her suggestion that he hide himself should they march into battle by telling her that he won’t do that. “I came to fight for my country and so I will stand my ground and won’t run,” he confidently boasted and added, “It wouldn’t be as much shame for me to die on the battlefield as it would if I would run.”

Camp near Potomac Bridge, [Virginia]
[25 April 1863]

Dear and beloved wife,

I again take the present opportunity to inform you that I am well at present and hope you are the same — enjoying good health. And further I let you know that we are under marching orders but I don’t know where we are going. But we have got eight days rations to carry along and we had orders to send our coats or blankets off. The most of the men sent their blankets and overcoats but I kept my blanket and overcoat. I don’t want to freeze. I will carry it as long as I can. But I send one pair of pants off. I don’t know where they took them to but I think they will send them after us wherever we go. But God knows where we are a going. We had orders to start this morning but now it rains too fast to go out and I hope it will rain all day so that we need not go. Some think we will go to Fredericksburg and some thinks to Washington but I can’t tell where we are a going. We won’t find out till we are at the place.

I think we will have some fighting to do before we get out [of] this place but for that [reason] we came. But if it is God’s will, I shall come home again. I hope it is. And you have stated in your last letter that if we would come in[to] a fight, I should hide myself. But that I won’t do. I will stand my ground as long as life remains in me. I came to fight for my country and so I will stand my ground and won’t run. I don’t want to have a hole shot in my back. That would show coward and that, you know, I don’t want to be. It wouldn’t be as much shame for me to die on the battlefield as it would if I would run. I don’t hope I must die on the battlefield but if I must, don’t trouble yourself about me.

And further I must let you know that [your brother] Josiah is in his regiment again but I haven’t seen him yet but I would like to see him very bad. And now I must close my letter by wishing you good health. And so goodbye. But I don’t hope forever. Enclosed you will find one dollar. I can’t send you more. We didn’t get no pay yet. No more at present. Write soon and direct as before.

Yours truly husband, — Theodore Harman


LETTER THIRTY-ONE

Harman writes his wife from the camp of the 153rd Pennsylvania near Potomac Bridge, Virginia. (This is still Brooks Station and it isn’t clear why Harman changed the heading of his letters.) He tells her that they are under marching orders and will leave tomorrow morning but he doesn’t yet know Hooker hopes to cross his army over the Rappahannock and Rapidan rivers, enter the Wilderness, and surprise Lee’s army at Fredericksburg from the direction of Chancellorsville.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, Virginia
April 26th 1863

Dear wife,

I take the opportunity to write a few lines to let you know that I received your very kind and welcome letter that Josiah Fortner brought along for me but none since. I was a looking for one this week by mail but it was all in vain. Perhaps I will get one this evening. Further, I let you know that I seen [your brother] Josiah last Saturday, a week ago. He looks good but I couldn’t talk much with him because I was on guard that day.

And further I let you know that we will march off tomorrow morning but where, I don’t know. I don’t think that our officers know it themselves. And further I let you know that we got paid this week but only four months pay and I will send fifty dollars to my father and twenty-five to you. I hope you will be satisfied.

And now I must close my letter. Write soon as you get this letter and don’t forget. I would write more but I hant got no time and I am afraid you can’t read this. If you can’t, then wait till I come home and I hope this will [be] before long. No more at present.

I will write as soon as we camp again. No more at present. Yours truly friend, — Theodore Harman


LETTER THIRTY-TWO

Harman writes his wife immediately after the Battle of Chancellorsville during which Stonewall Jackson’s forces stealthily slammed into the 153rd Pennsylvania on the far right of the Union line causing them to panic and run. In the great skedaddle, Col. Glanz and two dozen others were surrounded and captured. One of the captured soldiers was Theodore’s brother Peter. At the time, the 153rd Pennsylvania was in the 1st Brigade of the 1st Division in Major General Oliver O. Howard’s XI Corps.

Chancellorsville Hero
Stampede of the 11th Corps at Chancellorsville

May the 5th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I again take the opportunity to address a few lines to let you know that I am safe so far. And further I let you know that we left our old camp on the 27th of April and marched down towards Kelley’s Ford and then we crossed the Rappahannock on the 28th at about midnight and then we laid down and slept till morning. And then we marched again and so we marched day and night till on the first of May the Rebels made an attack on us. We was in the woods and had formed a line of battle and the Rebs made a charge on us and we commenced to fire on them and fought about five minutes. And then the balls came just like a hail storm and then we got orders to retreat. And then the knapsacks flew and we run through the woods and the balls flew around our heads. I thought every minute one would hit me but thank God, I am safe.

And so they kept on fighting till about midnight and then on Sunday morning they commenced to fight again and so they fought most all day, but [by] then we wasn’t in [the fight] anymore. They fight every day along our line [at] the time I am writing this letter. They have [had] a pretty hard skirmishing but we [continue to] drive them back. I think the Rebels lost [a] great many more than we did. I hope we will lick them this time.

Our regiment didn’t lose very many. I don’t think that our company lost any killed but five wounded — namely Joseph Breidinger shot in the face, and Samuel Drach shot in the back, and Moses Warner shot in the leg, and George Howell shot in the neck and a horse ran over Israel Kocher but he hain’t hurt very bad. But there is several of our men missing — Lewis Clewell and some others — but then they will come to the regiment yet. And further I let you know that [brother] Peter is amongst the missing too but I think he will come to the regiment again.

Further I let you know that I received a letter from home this morning and it was dated the 28th and I feel very sorry to hear that [my sister] Susan is so very low. But I don’t think that she will get well again. I feel sorry for her.

And now I must bring my letter to a close for this time by wishing you good health and I hope the time will soon come that we can talk together again. Tell my parents that I am safe so far yet. Enclosed you will find four dollars that I send to you. Write soon and let me know whether you received them 25 dollars that I sent to you before.

— The. Harman


LETTER THIRTY-THREE

Harman writes from their old camp near Brooks Station after the Battle of Chancellorsville, giving her more details of the fight and of the casualties. In particular he expresses concern for his brother Peter who is missing, not yet aware that he has been captured by the Confederates.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, Virginia
May 10th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I again sit down to address a few lines to let you know that I received your two kind and welcome letters and one was dated the 22nd of April and the other on the 26th. [I] was very glad to hear from you again. Time seems very long and lonesome now. Since the battle was [fought], I feel quite lost being I don’t know where [my brother] Peter is, but I hope he will come to the regiment yet. I don’t hope that he is killed or wounded but I think he sticks somewheres yet. Some told me that they seen him on this side of the river and Harry [Harrison] Gross [of Co. A] is lost too. But I seen Harry on our retreat and then he was alright yet. There is some twenty missing of Company A but perhaps they are taken prisoner. I feel very sorry for the boys but I hope we will see them yet. And George Fritz — he is lost too. And we don’t know where he is. He was in the fight but he didn’t help fight. He didn’t feel very good and then he was detailed to help in the hospital. But now we don’t know whether he lives yet or not. And Conrad Bauer is lost and Lewis Clewell. We don’t know where they are but perhaps you know more about it than we do.

And further I let you know that I send you three dollars in this letter and if you get this letter, then send me an answer and let me know whether you received them twenty-five dollars and them four dollars that I sent to you last week. And now I must bring my short letter to a close because I hain’t got no time to write more. But if I get the time, I will write another one this week and I will write out to my parents this week if I get the time.

And let me know in your next letter whether my poor sister is better or not. I hope she is. I feel very sorry for her. There is no minute that I don’t think of her and I pity her very much. But I can’t help her. I wish God my time was so near expired as the 129th [Pennsylvania] but if it is God’s will, then we will come home too.

And so goodbye, but not forever. I hope the time will soon come that we can talk together again. — Theodore Harman

Write soon.


LETTER THIRTY-FOUR

Harman writes from their old camp near Brooks Station after the Battle of Chancellorsville, giving her more details of the fight and of the casualties. He tells her that he never thought he would come out of the battle alive, “but God and my legs spared me,” he said. He tells her he has heard his brother Peter may have been taken a prisoner in the battle.

Camp near Potomac Bridge, Virginia
May 18th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

I take the present opportunity to inform you that I received your very kind and welcome letter this evening and was very glad to hear from home and to hear that [my sister] Susan is better again. If it only stays so — or I mean if she don’t get no worse. But I hope she will be well till I come home — that’s if I come home. But I hope I will. I never thought I would come safe out of that fight [at Chancellorsville] but God and my legs spared me there. My intention wasn’t to run but I had no other way to get out but to run. And further I let you know that [my brother] Peter is not here yet. The report is that they were taken prisoner but I am glad if it is true because Louisa, she troubles herself about him. I received a letter from her last night and she is in great trouble. But I wrote to her that she shouldn’t trouble herself about him because he is alright. Some of our men told me that he and Harry Gross and George Fritz was taken prisoner but I think we will find out more about it before long.

And further I will let you know that I am well and in good spirits and would be ready for another fight but I don’t hope that would need to run if we would get in another fight. And now I must close with the fighting concern.

And also I let you know that I worked at the Likeness Business today and I would have worked every day if I only would have the time but we must drill twice a day. We get up at five o’clock in the morning and then we take our coffee and then at six we go out and drill till nine. And then at five in the afternoon, we go out and drill till sunset. But thank God that our time is so near expired that this drilling takes an end and our general told us the other day that we would get mustered out of the brigade till the tenth of next month and I wish to God it was so. And you have stated in your letter that the report was that Capt. [Joseph S. Myers] was killed but that hain’t so, And enclosed you will find two dollars in this letter and if you will receive it, then let me know in your next letter. And now I must close. It is about ten o’clock and so good night.

— Theodore Harman


LETTER THIRTY-FIVE

Harman writes from their old camp near Brooks Station after the Battle of Chancellorsville, giving her more details of the fight and of the casualties. He tells her that he has heard his brother Peter is safe and in the paroled prisoner camp at Alexandria. He also tells her he has been spending some time helping his civilian friends from Northampton county operate their “Likeness Business.”

Camp near Potomac Bridge, Virginia
May 26th 1863

Dear and beloved wife,

With pleasure I take the opportunity to address a few lines to you to let you know that I am well and in good spirits and I hope the time these few lines will reach you that you are the same. And I hope I will keep my health so till I come home. And further I let you know that I received a letter from home last night and it was written by my dear sister Susan. I felt very glad to see she has got the strength to write again. And I went to work and answered it right away. But I think you will get this letter before she and if you receive this letter, then go up and let Suzy read it.

And further I let you know that [my brother] Peter is safe but I expect you know it. I think he wrote a letter to his wife and I wrote a letter to him last week but I haven’t received no answer yet but they say they went to Alexandria in[to] the Parole Camp. I think he is alright now but for my part, I wouldn’t like to be a prisoner. I think he will get tired of it too yet.

And further I let you know that I was at the Likeness Business all last week and this week but Kuntzman, he went home and he told me he would pay me well if I would help Adam Schiffer and so I did and we done a good business. We took in last week about three hundred dollars. And further I let you know that I think we will stay here till our time is up. We hear the orders to fix our camp up and so we did. We planted spruce trees in the whole camp. It looks very nice and green. And so I think we will stay here till our time is expired.

And now I must bring my letter to a close for this time by wishing you goodbye. No more at present. write soon. Tell [your brother] Josiah to write soon and don’t forget.

— Theodore Harman to his little annoyer. Goodbye, Louisa. Excuse poor writing.


LETTER THIRTY-SIX

Camp near [Oliver O.] Howard’s Headquarters, Virginia
June the 4th, 1863

Dear wife,

Your kind and very welcome letter came at hand on the 2nd and I was very glad to hear from you again and to hear that you enjoy good health. I was glad to hear that [my sister] Susan is getting better again.

Further, I let you know that we moved our camp yesterday. We moved about one mile and a quarter from our old camp. We had very little rest last night. We laid down to sleep and after midnight they commenced to blow the bugles and to drum and then we got orders to fall in. Then we packed our knapsacks and formed a line of battle. And so we stood around till sunrise. Then we got orders to march to our quarters again and so we did. And now we are a fixin’ our camp up but I don’t know how long we will stay here. I don’t think that we will move till our time is up unless we will get attacked. The Rebs try to get over the Rappahannock but I don’t hope that they will make us run again. If they attack us, I think we will whip them better than we did the other time. But I don’t hope we need to fight anymore in our time. I wish the time was up to come home once [more]. I am just tired of this war. We have bully times and plenty to eat and to drink, but still I am tired of it. I would rather work than to lay about and do nothing. I thinkI would feel better and [be] more satisfied.

And further I let you know that we got our clothes and blankets sent back again from Washington that we had sent off but I wish they wouldn’t [have] send them now. We have got too much to carry again.

You had stated in your last letter that you would go in Harvis if I would say so but I have no objection about it. You must suit yourself about it. If you think you can stand it, then you may go.

And further I wih you would tell [your brother] Josiah that he should write. He promised me and Adam Schiffer to write as soon as he would come home and I think he is at home long ago. But no letter yet. I think he don’t care about us. He is just glad that he is at home.

Enclosed you will find two dollars. No more at present. Write soon and don’t forget. Excuse bad writing.

— Theodore Harman


LETTER THIRTY-SEVEN

Camp near Howard’s Headquarters, Virginia
June 8th 1863

Dear wife,

Yours dated the 30th came at hand on the 7th instant and I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you enjoy good health. And further I let you know that we are at the same camp yet. I had stated in my other letter that we had marching orders but we are still here yet and it’s quiet about a march so I think we will stay here — perhaps till our time is expired. I can’t tell it for certain but I hope the next march we will make is towards home. I am tired of Virginia. It is very dry and dusty. It didn’t rain in a long time and in daytime, it is very hot and at night it is pretty cold. We had some very cold nights this week but last night it was middling warm.

And further I let you know that John Schiffer was with us this week and he slept with me two nights. I think he will stay here. He told me last night that he and Adam [Schiffer] would go at the Likeness Business if they could get a bargain with Kuntzman. They want to buy his stock and his right if they can. I think they will get a bargain. Let [your brother] Josiah read this letter if you please.

And further I let you know that we expect our Colonel this afternoon. He is exchanged and we expect him. But won’t we enjoy the time when he comes.

And further I wish you would let me know whether you received them ten dollars which I sent to you. And now I must close and take this letter in[to] the post office. So goodbye. Write soon.

Yours truly, — Theodore Harman

One thought on “Harman’s Civil War Letters

  1. Thank you for posting this collection. My family is from Wind Gap and I just purchased the Chancellorsville letter from EBay. I have some nice memorabilia from the 153rd. It’s great reading his other letters

    Like

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