About this Letter

The letter “From Levi D. Green to Dear Brother – December 10, 1862” was written during the American Civil War and offered a glimpse into a soldier’s daily life and struggles in the conflict. In this letter, Levi D. Green writes to his brother about his current circumstances, the state of the war, and his hopes for the future.

Levi begins the letter by discussing his health, noting that he is doing well but that his foot is sore, making it difficult for him to walk. Despite this, he remains in good spirits and is proud to serve in the war effort. He also mentions that his brother Marvin is doing well but that he has gone to Fort Nansemond.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Fort Nanesemond was a square redoubt. This fort was a type of fortification typically used during the Civil War era and other periods of military history. It refers to a defensive structure with a square or rectangular shape designed to provide protection and a strategic vantage point for military forces. During the Civil War, redoubts were often constructed as part of a larger fortification system to defend key positions or critical areas. They were typically built using earthworks, including trenches, berms, and parapets, reinforced with logs or other materials. The purpose of a redoubt was to create a fortified stronghold where defending troops could take cover, repel attacks, and provide supporting fire to nearby positions. The square shape of a redoubt allowed for a wide field of fire in all directions, making it difficult for enemy forces to approach without facing significant resistance. Redoubts were commonly used to protect important locations, such as supply depots, river crossings, or high ground. They played a significant role in the defensive strategies employed by both Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War. The color red, as in “redoubt,” does not necessarily denote the color of the fortification itself but rather refers to the term “redoubt” used in military terminology. The actual appearance of a Civil War redoubt would depend on the construction materials and techniques used by the forces involved and any subsequent modifications or adaptations made over time.

The letter then turns to the war, with Levi expressing his thoughts on the conflict. He reports that the cannon fire is intense, and he can hear it roaring like “hell” in the distance. He states that he wishes he could fight on the front lines and believes he could do his part in defeating the enemy. This provides insight into the bravery and determination of soldiers like Levi during the Civil War, as they were willing to put themselves in harm’s way to protect their country and beliefs.

Throughout the letter, Levi also requests various items from his brother, including a pair of boots, gloves, and a box of supplies. He stresses the importance of sending these items as soon as possible and emphasizes the need for his brother to keep him informed about when they will arrive. He also mentions that he wants his brother to take care of his livestock and feed them well, demonstrating his love for his family and his homesickness for the familiar comforts of home.

In conclusion, the letter “From Levi D. Green to Dear Brother – December 10, 1862” provides valuable insight into the experiences of soldiers during the American Civil War. Through his words, we can see the daily struggles and hardships faced by soldiers, as well as their determination and bravery in the face of adversity. The letter also highlights the importance of family and home and the sacrifices made by soldiers to protect their country and loved ones.

Letter Transcript


Camp Thorp, Suffolk, VA. Dear brother I received your letter day before yesterday and was very glad to hear from you and to hear that you was well. I am well at present and hope these few lines will find you the same. Marvin is well at present and is as fat as a hog he has gained 9 pounds he weigh 169 pounds he is not more than 100 rods from our camp, we have had quite a line moving our camp we have moved about one mile on the other side of the city in a more healthy place and better water than we used to have. I suppose you have seen an account of that skirmish at black water our Regament was down there at the time of the fight but did not go into action for the Rebels skedaddled so we could not get a chance to try our silver but if we had been ordered to the front we were ready to go in to them full reg we took 22 prisoners 9 horses 50 of them was killed but we heard that it is not so we are encamped near the 85 and P. Lern Barzella Seldon and every day I seen Sid Crombal and Run Laraby (Saraby?) and Hale Darling and Newell Brown and Lot Callino and all the boys they look tough and hearty. there is lots of rabbits out here we see lots of them every day when we go out on fatigue I want you to write as soon as you get this and send me a stamp in mine. This from Levi D. Green Enclosed please find two rings from Marvin

RESEARCHER’S NOTE: Bowen speaks of the issue of having to move camps as outlined in the letter from Levi. The following text is taken from the Regimental History of the Dragoons: ” We had two camps while there, the first on the Eden­ton road, east of the village, and in the immediate vicinity of the Great Dismal Swamp, a locality rendered famous by Tom Moore’s exquisite poem entitled “The Lake of the Dismal Swamp,” his description of the place being perfect:-

“Away to the Dismal Swamp, he speeds-

His path was rugged and sore,

Through tangled juniper, beds of reeds, Through many a fen where the serpent feeds.

And man never trod before.”

Almost immediately sickness began to prevail, owing to the use of wretchedly poor surface water and the deadly miasma floating in the atmosphere. The doctor declared it was no wonder sickness was prevalent, when the noxious effluvia were so dense it could be sliced off with a knife.

The improvised hospitals were quickly filled, and notwithstanding the most skillful medical aid, the grim mes­senger gathered his harvest of victims. Almost daily the death march and muffled drums were heard, as some poor boy was borne by loving comrades to his last earthly resting place until the muster roll of every company bore the legend, ‘Died in hospital at Suffolk.’”

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