June 23, 1864 Letter from Private Robert Dawson to his sister, Rebecca Dawson while camped near Petersburg, VA describing events around the Petersburg Campaign

(transcribed by granddaughter, Ms. Clara Warner)   

Near Petersburg, Va June 23d, 1864


Dear Sister,

I seat myself this afternoon to answer your very welcome letter which I received on the 18th, I would have answered it sooner but I had just written one and put in the mail bag a few minutes before I received your last one, the one I am answering now.  I am well at present and hope those few lines may find you all enjoying he same blessing.  there has not been much going on here in front since I wrote you last.  our lines have not advanced any in front, there was some fighting on the left yesterday evening but with the exception of that there has been nothing but skirmishing going on since last I wrote you.  those two armies puts me in mind of two old Roosters fighting, they fight away as hard as they can for 3 or 4 days until they both get tired out then they lay and peck at each other all the time, the skirmishers keep firing at each other all the time these 3 or 4 nights back they have kept it up all night, and the Artillery keeps firing every little while, our men have not got possession of Petersburg yet.  I do not know exactly how near they are to the town. They are pretty close though I suppose the sharpshooters or skirmishers can shoot in town if there is not obstructions between them and the town.  our Artillery can shell it all to pieces we can see & off of a hill back of us a piece.  I never went to take a look at I though, our fellows are pretty close to the rebels, there is some of them that gets wounded by sharpshooters, there was one of our company wounded today.  the boys from Ohio township are all well, it is very warm here today.  I believe there is some move going on that we know nothing about.  I expect nothing else than we will get up some night and leave the rebs here and light down on them some place else.  they are getting or are now to strongly fortified here for us to charge on them here.  I have not seen it yet during this campaign where we lay a few days without advancing but we made a sudden move to some place else so I am expecting nothing else now, Grant is great for sudden flank movement.  I would like to see him get around and cut the main Railroad running from Richmond now.  if that was cut they would have to come out and fight us or leave or else give up.  I hope that the war may be over soon.  I tell you it is taking off a great many men then this campaign has been so long that the men get very tired and they do not get time to rest.  they have to lose a great deal of sleep and that is very hard on men especially when they are exposed to the inclemency of the weather, the most of the nights is very cool.  Some days are pretty warm and some are cool and pleasant.  I think when Jim Laughlin and that Mcgaffick girl gets married the rest of the people had better quit marrying.  I tell you they will be a bright looking couple.  I would like to see them get married.  well I believe I will have to close soon write soon and give me all the news.  Let me know all that is going on and what every body is doing you mentioned in your last about aunt Rachel putting a few lines in my letter in a mistake.  I thought it kind of curious.  I burnt the note I want to know if it was reported that he deserted and who reported it.  No more at present from your affectionate Brother

R D Dawson

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