Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

The letters of Major Bell

Transcribed by John Horner

Camp in Virginia

April 9, 1865

My Dear wife

This morning we started out with the expectation of having a big fight. Salutations were exchanged between officers of different Regts, hoping that we would all get through safe. When the fight had scarcely commenced a flag of truce was raised and all was over and the remnant of Lee's army surrendered. You cannot have any idea of the joy and enthusiasm of the army and what was expected to be a bloody day turned out to be a day of great joy and gladness. We lost 7 or 8 killed, wounded and missing. Our regiment made the first charge of the campaign at Dinwiddie Court House and the last one on the Lynchburg Road beyond Appomattox Court House.

We were within 15 miles of Lynchburg and had got clear ahead of Lee's Army. We fell back on yesterday, the 8th, to Prospect Station in Prince Edward County and today we are on the march to Burkittsville where it is said we are to recruit for a while. We are living entirely on the country as we have drawn neither forage nor our rations for five days. The men bake cakes out of flour and forage on the citizens for meat. We are worse off for corn for the horses than anything else. Some of the country is very fine, covered with a fine growth of black oak, hickory, chestnut, etc.

Since we left camp, we have been in seven fights and though our Regt. had suffered terribly, through the kind care of a protecting providence, I have escaped unhurt. All our field officers escaped. The adjutant had his clothes all cut and two horses shot under him and the skin broke on his breast but is all right yet and on duty all the time.

The fruit trees are in bloom here, plenty of peaches in this part of the country. The leaves are coming out in the woods and everything looks pleasant, but oh, the devastation where an Army like this passes through when we have to live and forage off the country, every house stripped of everything that can be eaten or fed. I can appreciate the suspense you have been in for the last few weeks. We have had no mail for sixteen days but it is all over now and it will not be long till I will be safe at home with you once more.

Goodbye, your loving husband,


To obtain a transcribe copy of all of Major Bell's letters,
send us an e-mail at history@Emmitsburg.net