This letter was written by 19 year-old Jacob W. Strawyick (1843-1863), the son of Andrew Strawyick (1808-Aft1880) and Susannah Martin (1807-Aft1880) of Butler, Butler county, Pennsylvania. Jacob’s father was a German emigrant who made his living as a gunsmith.
Jacob enlisted with his older brother, Hugh M. Strawyick (1840-Aft1900)—a gunsmith like his father—into Co. C, 139th Pennsylvania Infantry in early September 1862.
In his letter, written from the battle line on 1 May, 1863, Jacob attempts to reassure his father and sister that he expects to survive the battle of Chancellorsville but there is a subtle foreboding in the letter that seems to betray his true feelings. Two days later, Jacob was killed in the Battle of Salem Church (a.k.a. “Battle of Bank’s Ford”) while fighting with Sedgwick’s VI Corps. In that battle alone, the 139th Pennsylvania lost 123 men killed and wounded. Jacob was originally buried on Thomas Morrison’s Lot, Fredericksburg, Va., but was later moved to the National Cemetery.
Jacob’s letter was found in the Pension Office Records.
Line of Battle near the Rappahannock
May 1st 1863
I take my pen in hand to let you know that we are both well at present and I hope these few lines will find you all enjoying the same blessing at present and I hope that it may continue so till we come home that if we live to get safe out of this battle now, if we have as good luck as we had when we was across the [river the] other time—and I pray that we will. Now don’t be any uneasy about us. If it is your time to die, it will come, and if it ain’t, we will come out safe.
Now father, I sent forty dollars home with Harvey Parks to you and I want you to let me know if he gave it to you so that you can spend it for what you want and not be in need of anything that you stand in need of. Now father, I have nothing more to say this time. [That is] all at present but still remain your son till death.
— J. W. Strawyick
Dear sister, I received your letter of the 22nd and was glad to hear from you and was also glad to hear that you were all well and I hope they may continue so till we all meet again—if we live, ad I pray that God will spared your life to meet again. Now dear sister, I have not much to tell you this time but if I live to get out safe out of this battle, I will tell you more for I will get a furlough and come home and then I will tell you all about the times I have had since I left home. Nothing more at present but still remain your brother till death. Write soon. — J. W. Strawyick
Let Lizzy read this too…for it may be the last letter that you might get from me. But do not be uneasy till you hear from me. Goodbye, — J. W. S.