This is a newly discovered letter written by John Beaton of the 9th Va. Inf. I have his other letters on my web site and this one falls between March 63 and Aug 63.
I just finished transcribing this one and decided to post it here tonight and on the web site later. Beaton liked to describe things in his letters and I was pretty excited to read another one of his letters. Now if I only could find the ones his sister wrote him from Portsmouth, that would be interesting.
It was discovered yesterday in a batch of old papers that had been stored in a barn. This one had the cover with it. It was postmarked in Franklin Va. The cover was addressed to Mrs. Mary F. Stewart, Gloucester C.H. (court house?), Care of Mr. Richard Stevens. I supposed it was carried to Portsmouth via fishing boat since Portsmouth was in Union hands at the time.
"Pickett Line near Suffolk
April 25th, 1863
Your very welcome letter came to hand day before yesterday. I have received two or three from you and have answered them, but it seems you have not received them. I am very much pleased to hear you and your family are well. I am enjoying the same blessing just now, but donít know how soon I may get my quietness in the shape of a minie ball as they are flying quite thick. I am now with the reserve but they reach us. Sarah wrote me about her trip, it was very aggravating to get so near the wished for heaven and then be disappointed. I would like to see her just to hear her tell of their actions. I would like to see Capt. Gregg. I would like to be apt to send him as I have some of his brethren, to their last account. Sarah tells me Ma is getting a great deal better, which I like better than any news she would write.
You must excuse this, if it is disconnected. I am called off almost every minute for something being the 1st Sergeant of the company. I have nearly all the business of the company to do in the way of details, reports and such likes.
We have had rain every day since we have been here. I have not been dry in a month. My musket, my only friend, I have to keep dry consequently that gets the largest share of my blanket. This paper will testify to how dry we have been, you must give it itís true value. (Original letter is water stained). None of us have a shift of clothes. Our fancy goods are scarce. I have the last sheet of paper in the company.
We are traveling light Ė besides our warlike implements we have nothing but our blankets, haversacks and canteens.
This kind of life must suite me. I enjoy better health than I ever did and am heavier, so is all our company. We are now in a swamp where water only ankle deep is called a dry place. We throw down two tiers of rails and sleep as well as if we were on beds of down, it has been nearly twelve months since I have slept in a house on a bed. I donít know how I should feel to sit down at a table and eat a meal, and then go regularly to bed, it would be strange indeed, and would require sometime for me to get used to it again. I would like very much to travel over the same country again and have you with me, that I did last summer and winter. I never pictured anything so rich and lovely. I was with the main army, consequently I could not visit the different points of interest in our course. When off on a scout I had not time to enjoy the scenes as I would like. Three places in particular I wish to visit, I have a stinging remembrance of them having received a Yankees compliments at each one of these places in the shape of a minnie ball. Maryland and Virginia near Harpers Ferry is the ????? of America in my opinion and the only place I would be content to settle on and stay fixed for life, it looks so wild and grand. Just suiting my restless nature.
Yesterday we had a brush the whole length of our lines, our regiment came off with out any loss. I have not heard from the rest of the line, our loss is very small if any as we drove the enemy back at every point, out position was very much attacked I donít know how soon we may attack Suffolk our lines are now within two miles of it. Our General Longstreet knows what he is about and I think will soon learn the Yankees. We have orders to be ready to move in a moment so I will bring this to a close. Tender my respects to Mrs. Stevens and return Hannies kiss although she would not want such a hard rough looking fellow as I am for her uncle.
I came near forgetting to say I received one pair of socks from you for which I am very much obliged. Accept my love for yourself.
I remain Yours Truly
John K Beaton
Direct Co. G, 9th Regt, Va. Vol