This letter was written by Francis (“Frank”) Asbury Shute (1840-1889), the son of Joseph Atkinson Shute (1815-1863) and Sarah Ann Campbell (1816-1890) of Harrison, Gloucester county, New Jersey.
Frank joined the 3rd New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in April 1861.
Although the letter is undated, the content suggests it was written in May 1862 while the regiment was participating in McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign. Private Shute was discharged due to disability from the Convalescent Camp near Alexandria, Virginia, on 15 December 1862.
After the war, Frank married Anna Maxwell (1842 – 1912) and they had two children, Emily Shute Taylor (1869-1928) and Mabel Shute Levering (1882-1962.) Frank died on August 10, 1889 at the age of 49.
5 Miles of Richmond
I have long been looking for a letter from home but as yet none have come. I received a letter on the 20th inst. from you on the 20th of April. This is the last news I have had from home. Don’t think I complain of you, but Father and the rest might write more than they do if they only write a few words. I heard through Mrs. Cole to Frank that Emma was sick and I have been more anxious since to get a letter from home. My last letter was not directed properly or I would of got it much sooner. Follow my directions and they will come safe.
We are now on the edge of Chickahominy Swamp and five miles from Richmond and dear [God] only knows when we will go into Richmond. Some anticipate a hard fight but I do not. But let come what will, we are ready for the worst.
I have not got the box that Father brought to Alex for me and that is not all—never will. I am very sorry to think he is such a big coward as to be afraid to venture down to see me when we were 10 miles within the lines. Why just tell him we boys think it fun to get on the outpost to do picket duty. Tell him Andrew Ridgeway and me stood on a post once and the rebs was not 150 yards off, but neither dared to show their heads or pop would come or go a bullet. He a Colonel too and exercise such bravery? What do you think if I would write and tell Governor Olden what he would say? This looks too much like some of the Southern chivalry.
We have not heard from John Eacritt as yet nor do I suppose we will find him in Richmond for they will move all the prisoners back. [William] Buller is pretty sick but not in the hospital. Elkitton is in the hospital. So is Dave Gibson. [Joseph] Picken looks bad and has been pretty sick but he stays along with the company. Several other of our boys are sick in the hospital but no more that you know. I have been quite unwell for 2 or 3 days but am better now. Do please write soon.
From your loving son, — Frank A. Shute
Co. A, 3rd Regiment N. J. Vols., Fortress Monroe, Va., Franklin’s Division
Don’t forget to direct this way. Paper is very scarce.