Confederate soldier writes to notify a father of his son's death at Cold Harbor

Date Written

June 3, 1864

History Referenced

William Gilreath was 25 years old when this was written.
The recipient, William H. Goodlett, was 46 when it was received.

William Gilreath died -1 months, -1 days after writing this.
It was written 159 years, 3 months, 20 days ago.
It was a Friday.

Rifle pits near Cold harbor
May (June) 3th 1864

Mr. W. H. Goodlett
Dear Sir

It becombs my painful duty to inform you of the death of your dear son F. M. Goodlett he was shot through the head on yesterday morning the ball entering his right temple & coming out on the opposite side killing him almost instantly he never spoke. We roped him up in his blanket & buried him as decently as we possibly could under the circumstances & marked his grave so it may be easily designated.

That portion of the line occupied by our Brigade being withdrawn last nigh his body lies between the two lines. Eb Rowley (Elbert F. S. Rowley) & I packed his clothing, oil cloth, & c in his nap sack & sent them to H. C. Markly (Henry C. Markley) at Richmond with instructions to take care of them until they could be sent to you. I have his testament, post money, &c which I will send to you the first opportunity. Also enclosed I send you a letter addressed to him which came by yesterday evenings mail. It is useless to give you an account of the great battles which are now being fought as you will doubtless see a full & detailed account before you recieve this. Suffice it to say the battle rages with almost unabated fury & so far as I have been able to learn we have repulsed the enemy at all points. No fears (word illegible) as to the result. Our Regt being in reserve has not been engaged though we would not be surprised to be sent to the front at any moment. You will pleas say to my Sisters I am well & thanks be to God I have thus far escaped any harm though I have been struck twice with spent balls also I will write to them soon should I not fall in battle before permitted so to do.

Our Company has suffered severely in the recent engagements in addition to the loss of dear Marion as noble & gallant a soldier as ever lived, we lost Sergeant Dyer killed, C. W. D'Oyley (Charles W. D'Oyley) & J. S. Sumate (James S. Shumate) slightly wounded also several others very slightly though not disabled.

I deeply sympathize with you & all the family in this your sad affliction. May God sustain & comfort you all in this your time of bereavement is the earnest desire of your sympathetic friend
W. W. Gilreath

P.S. Pleas let me hear from you soon

Scans of Letter