About this Letter

The letter “Levi D. Green to Dear Brother John” was written by Levi D. Green to his brother John S. Green on March 9, 1863, from Camp Suffolk, Virginia. In this letter, Levi D. Green informs his brother that he is well and hopes his brother is also well. He sends his likeness and requests his brother to send him as well, saying that it won’t cost more than 10 cents.

Levi D. Green mentions that the 177th Regiment has gone to North Carolina and that they haven’t had a march in some time due to the muddy conditions. He also describes a battle between their Regiment and the Rebels: eight were killed, and 21 were wounded. The battle lasted from 3 a.m. until 2 p.m., and the Rebels fell back into the woods. The Infantry charged the Battery but was driven back three times by the Rebels who fired grape into their camp. The 13th Indiana Regiment was the first to charge, and they went over the river and into the camp. Levi D. Green describes how one man had his haversack shot off with a shell and that they returned to camp at midnight.

Levi D. Green closes the letter by asking his brother to write soon and mentions that Marvin did not go with them as he was over at the Regiment when they left Suffolk, but he could see the flash of the guns. He requests his brother to make “old laerns (?) hump” and ends the letter with regards.

In conclusion, the letter provides insight into the life of a soldier during the American Civil War. Levi D. Green writes about his experiences in the battle, mentions the mud and the movements of the Regiment, and asks for a picture from his brother. The mention of the firing of “grape” into their camp highlights the brutal nature of the war and the conditions the soldiers faced.

Letter Transcript


Camp Suffolk, VA Dear brother I am well at present and I hope you are the same. I have not heard from in some time I shall send my likeness and I want you to send me yours it will not cost you more than 10 cents to send it you must not forget it. I have just come from town. The 177 Regt has gone from here they are a going to North Carolina.

We have not had a march in some time it has been so muddy. the rebs stays on the other side of the Black Water there was 8 killed 21 wounded in our Regt the battle lasted 3 o’clock in the morning until 2 o’clock in the after noon. The rebs fell back into the woods and then the Infantry had to charge on the Battery we was drove back 3 times they shot grape into us we got up so close to their mother earth as they could get they would rais up shout and fall to their mother earth they shot sum of the harp. they fell back 4 miles and lay in ambush we went in after them the 13 Indiana regt was a hed of our regt they went into them like men our men opened their Battery in the rebs and in they went over the river at a (dark of a rate?) then we come into camp. Their was one man that had his haversack shot off his back with a shell he thot that he could eat all the bred he had himself he did not ask nothing of the Rebs We got into camp at midnight I was about gon up.

Marvin did not go with us He was over to the Regt when we left Suffolk but they could see the flash of the guns I will close by asking you to write soon. L. D. Green to John S. Green you must make old laerns (?) hump. yours with respect L. D. Green to John S. Green Esq . write soon if you pleas L. D. Green

RESEARCHER’S NOTE: Levi makes mention of the Rebels firing “grape” into their camp. Smoothbore cannons were used to fire “grape” artillery ammunition during the American Civil War. It was made up of tiny iron balls firmly packed into a canvas bag and then inserted into the cannon. When the cannon was fired, the canvas bag would rip open, releasing the tiny iron balls (which resembled grapes) in a broad pattern. This pattern created a lethal shower of shrapnel that could severely harm enemy troops and defenses. Grape was frequently employed at close ranges and was exceptionally efficient against troops in open areas or trenches. Additionally, naval warfare used it. At a distance, it was less precise than a canister, though.

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