SOLDIER LETTER BY HENRY H. HERPST, 121ST PENNSYLVANIA

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Item Code: L15378

This is a great example of a soldier letter, where Herpst describes to his sister the life of a soldier in camp just after the battle at Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Letter was written in ink on lined paper that measures approx. 8” x 10”. Shows fold creases, a few chips at the edges, and one pinhole in the center crease. Several dark streaks and spots are present but letter is totally legible.

Henry H. Herpst was born on January 26, 1836. He enlisted on August 23, 1862 as a 1st Sergeant into Co. “A”, 121st Pennsylvania Infantry. He received the following promotions- 2nd Lieutenant on March 25, 1863, 1st Lieutenant on October 10, 1863, and Captain on May 28, 1864. He was mustered out on June 2, 1865 at Arlington Heights, Virginia.

Letter reads, “Camp near Bell Plains Va. Monday morning Dec. 22nd 1862 / My Dear Sister Becky, I once more lift up my pen for the purpose of writing you a few lines. I received a letter and a package of paper and envelopes from you on last Saturday Eve. The socks have not yet arrived But I hope they will come Soon. Well Becky I suppose that long ere this reaches you, you will have all the particulars of the fight at Fredericksburg and of the repulse of the “Grand army of the Potomac”. I have seen no papers since the fight. (As they are not allowed to come into the army at present). But I suppose as usual that they claim about an equal loss on the Rebel side as ours. If so allow me to assure you that it is false. They undoubtedly lost heavily. But nothing in confusion to ours. Ah that was almost a fatal trap in which the “Rebs” had us for some days. It is a matter of no doubt at all that they intended to Buy the whole army or drive us into the River. And would have done so on Tuesday. But Burnside’s understanding their plans and finding that they could not be routed from their position quietly withdrew his whole army across the Rappahannock on Monday night leaving the Rebs sadly disappointed on not finding us there in the morning.

We are now about 7 miles from Fredericksburg and about 2 miles from Bell Plain Landing on the Potomac, Where I think we will go into winter quarters as it is too cold to move at present. I am not well at present. I have the jaundice very bad and can eat nothing at all. I am very weak but I think I am some better to day. We have a good log cabin as soon and are more comfortable than we were. I had some potatoes this morning for my breakfast the first I have eaten for some time. I had a letter from ?? on last week he was well and at school. On account of the loss in our company in the late fight our Orderly Sergeant is promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. And I stand a fair Show to be made Sergeant Major of the Regt. I have had a great deal of praise conferred upon me for the manner in which I have discharged my duties as 2nd Sergeant of the company. I do not say this boastingly but to assure you that I am here for the good of my country.

If I am not appointed Sergeant Major, I will be the orderly or first Sergeant of the Company. My salary will be 21 dollars per month. We have not been paid any yet And I don’t think we will be until after New Years. Uncle Levi is somewhere here near Fredericksburg. But I don’t know in what Division of the Army. Therefore I cannot tell where to find him.—George Junkin was killed the day of the Battle he belonged to the Bucktail Regt. Have you heard lately from any of Rodgers Conely company. If so where are they, I have not seen anything of Chad for about 2 weeks. I don’t think he was in the fight at all. When Sidney Hickard of our company was shot the brains shattered all over my cap. The same ball that killed Lieutenant Buckly Struck the lock of my gun disabling for use. I then picked up another. Beck you don’t believe how cooly a man can fire at another in time of battle. But I must close. I will write you again soon. Yours as ever. HHH    [sl]

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