UNION SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE REUBEN T. WELLS, C0. “E”, 115TH NEW YORK INFANTRY

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Item Code: 1094-35

Dated “Virginia / June/ Under-the Brest works at Petarsburg.” Addressed to “Dear and most loving wife.”  3 pp. in ink on unlined paper, 5” x 8. Exhibits fold-marks, else VG.

Reuben T. Wells mustered at age 27 as a Private in Co. “E,” 115th New York Infantry, 8/15/ 1862. Captured with his regiment at Harper’s Ferry, 9/15/1862, he was paroled with them, soldiered on and was eventually mustered from service , 6/17/1865.

Wells’ regiment was mustered in August 1862, and immediately upon entering service was captured with the Harper’s Ferry garrison by forces of Stonewall Jackson in route to Antietam in mid-September 1862, and paroled to Chicago’s Camp Douglas. Returning to service in November, the unit was dispatched to the southeastern theater where it saw heavy action at the Battle of Olustee [FL].  The spring of 1864 found it   attached to the Army of the James and engaged at Bermuda Hundred, Drury’s Bluff and Cold Harbor, before joining the Ft. Fisher expedition and eventually joining Sherman’s Carolinas Campaign through the close of the war. During service the 115th lost 135 killed and mortally wounded and 188 by disease for a total of 323, and was listed among  “Fox’s Fighting 300” regiments.

In this letter to his “Dear and most loving wife” Private Wells paints a grim sketch of soldiering on the Petersburg  line.” As follows:

“I now take this oportunity of riting you a few lines two let you know that I am still alive but not in the best of health.  I have quit cooking for the doctor sed it was making me sick and so now I have again but unless I get betar I shant do it much. It is very hot and ___ many sick over me. Half the men are sick. James grand is ded he was shot ded on the field George [?].   We left 23 sick at point of rocks [MD]. It is hard fiting here.


The ded lays on the other side of our brestworks. Saw two hundred not buried and they have layed thare a week and it smells very bad.  Things look very dark here to___ ever gitting to Richmond. The three last charges our men maide thay were driven back with heavy loss and these ded still  lays on the field  sun six days.

Well, I must close for this time my hand is unstidy  and I can’t rite very good at best but I will try and rite soon again. I have not received a letar from you in more than a week.

I still remain yours as ever / Reuben T. Wells

Two his dear and well rembered wife.  Margret J. Wells

Superb letter home from a persevering Private of the 115th New York, staying alive on the “Petarsburg” line. In protective sleeve. [JP]  [ph:L]

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