Letters from Charles Phelps

Camp Near Gordonsville
March 22nd 1864

Dear Aunt,

Your letter received Saturday last. We left Charlottesville Sunday Morning and arrived here last night. Our object in moving was to get Forage for Horses. We will be home but a short time as we are now fitting up for the Summer Campaign -- Would not be surprised if I did not date a letter from Md. or Penn. in less than a month, that is the general impression now -- if so, I will try and make my next trip pay. I am very sorry you were not at Home when I was in L. I could not let you know of my visit as it was very unexpected to me. I went to your house, Knocked at the door, no answer, leaped the fence and rushed into the Kitchen and no doubt frightened the old Lady I saw very much.

Hope you succeeded well in your foraging expedition. The weather is as cold as any we have had this winter. Quite a change from comfortable winter Quarters to the open air.

I have not time to write more. I have to hunt up my horse -- he is either stolen or has strayed off. If you should hear of any good soldiers riding him about L. please have arrested.

All well and in good spirits -- too cold to be [policy?]

Love to Uncle C. Sallie and all friends

Yours Truly, Dick

Many thanks to Uncle C. for his kind offer -- he cannot do any thing for me at present -- in haste, D.

Head Quarters Shoemaker's Battery, Stuart Horse Artillery
Near Petersburg, July 10th, 1864

Dear Aunt,

Your letters May 19th & June 26th handed me yesterday. We have been in camp near this place, since we routed Wilson's Raiders -- as the Yankee Cavalry have been so roughly handled in our late engagements with them, it is probably we may stay here several days more, in fact our Horses are in such poor condition I do not think we can move. On the 3rd I was sent to Petersbury with some Captured Guns to have them mounted, on my arrival there, found that the Yanks had destroyed the Government Shop by shelling -- & had to take them to Richmond. I met I.L.E. in R. and was glad to hear from home. I met in R. Dr. [Bill's?] bro. who is ordered to Wytheville in Conscript Dept. and had a very pleasant time with him. I told him to call and see you he passed through Lynchbg. I am glad to hear that the Yanks were not as bad to some of my friends as they usually are. I have heard several times they did nothing to Papa, and treated very kindly. The people in Bedford & Campbell can now realize what this war is, hope it will stimulate some of those who have been skulking and picking out safe places to shoulder their musket or at least give some aid to the Govmt. in some way. I have been in Petersburg several times. No one in the City, but a few men who can not get away. Homes all closed & and the place looks deserted, I staid one night with friends Capt. Nickols, no one at home but himself & two or three darkies. I shell or part of one came through the room of the house into the room in which I slept, scattering the plastering, glass &c. all over the floor. Very little damage as yet has been done -- only one fire has occurred -- a great [illegible] have had been struck, but only two or three deaths have occurred. We are all speculating as to what will be Grant's next move. I do not think he will attack Uncle Bob and he cannot stay in his present position long -- unless we have heavy rains. His troops are suffering very much for want of water -- fever &c. -- He may continue to shell Petbg. and may destroy the city, this will be all I think he will attempt. Mr. Early and his people are causing Ole Abe no little uneasiness. They are in doubt at what point he will turn up. I hope when he does so he will it will be with good effect. I am glad to hear that Uncle C. has become acquainted with my old friend Col. Coleman -- glad to hear he is not seriously wounded. Sam was a great favorite with him. I have promised him one of his decendants.

This campaign proved most too hard for me -- tho I am in very good health, I only want rest & sleep to be all right again. You would not know me -- my whiskers off -- Shelton's cloths would be entirely too large for me. I weighed in the 121 lbs. downweight. I am however picking up since I have been resting. You will oblige me by sending my Boots by Express to Petersburg, have then wrapped securely so I can send for them, those I have on I must send home to have fixed up for winter. Write at Petersburg when you send them. Tell Uncle C. to send me some Tobacco at some time. I will send in for them about Wednesday or Thursday next. Love to all in haste --

Yours Dick

[Source: Charles Phelps Letters, Accession #2920, Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Virginia]