Soldier writes home about the Battle of Fredericksburg
Dec. 19, 1862
Stephen L. Nichols was 21 years old when this was written.
Stephen L. Nichols died 1 year, 4 months, 23 days after writing it.
It was written 157 years, 6 months, 26 days ago.
It was a Friday.
Friday December 19th 1862
My dear Father and Mother brothers and sisters. i thoat (thought) i wood (would) answer your letter so long as we had a little news to tell you of a battle of Frederic burd (Fredericksburg) that we have ben (been) into.
We started from our camp thursday morning about 4 or 5 o' clock. we traveled about to (two) miles and a half to this side of the river on a plain (plane) ware (where) there was about 6,100 akers (acres) in it. There was three divisions on (on) the field. we stacked arms and took our bundles off and sat down on them. we cood (could) not lay down because the mud was to (two) or three inches deap (deep). we sat there till dark and then they marched us round in the mud almost over a hour and then we stoped (stopped) that night and layed down.
The next day they moved us nier (near) to the river and rested that day and the next day till about 3 o'clock. we marched to the battle field and cros (across) the pontune (pontoon) bridge over the rapechanic (Rappahannock) River to the sitty (city). they was fighting purty (pretty) brisk. Then we went up the railroad and they was to (two) or three...on the our curnal (cornel) cep (kept) us traveling up the railroad and in and out mud and watter (water) splashing up to our neise (knees). balls and pieces of shells whistling over our heads, we wood (would) lay down on our bellies in the mud till about sundown and then we started into the field. We charged on them. that our men was on picket. they layed down on they (there) belly in mud and watter (water) and about ten o'clock they was relieved.
We marched there to of (off) the field into one of the streets and had our a gill of wisky (whiskey) a piece and our rations of pork and hard tack and sugar and coffee and then we layed down in the streets. we stayed there till Sunday night and then we marched up in the sitty (city) little farther and then we layed down in he street again. Me and John and about twenty more was detailed to go and dig trenchments (entrenchments). we went up to Griffin's headquarters and stayed there till to o'clock (two o'clock) and after the rebels was in such a position that we cood (could) not get up so he sent us to our regiment.
The rebels was up on a hill and had fortified so that our men cood (could) not do any anything. we searched the city pretty well. monday we had to retreat across the river. we think they was about 40 thousand killed. besides the wounded in our regiment, we had to (two) killed and about 15 wounded.
I received a letter from you this morning with some tobacco and envelopes in it, me and John is well. it is pretty cold nights. this is all I can think of now. only that we send our love to all the folks so goodbye. Standing gard (guard).
Stephen L Nichols
* Punctuation added to make reading easier.