The following letter was written by 21 year-old Albert S. Garland (1843-1918), the son of David Gardland (1816-1846) and Mary Ann Trickey (1823-1887) of South Boston. Albert was working as an blacksmith when he enlisted as a private in late December 1863 in the 11th Massachusetts Light Artillery. He was promoted to artificer prior to his mustering out of the service at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts, in mid-June 1865 after nearly one and a half year’s service.
The 11th Massachusetts Light Artillery began 1864 with the 9th Corps, of the Army of the Potomac. It was then present at the Wilderness, engaged at the North Anna river with the 2nd Corps, and at the Weldon railroad with the 5th Corps. It shared in the operations before Petersburg, from June 17, 1864, to March 24, 1865 ; was active in repelling the attack upon Fort Stedman, and after the fall of Petersburg, joined in the pursuit of the vanquished army to Appomattox.
Just days before he left to join his regiment, on Christmas eve in Boston, Albert was married to Annie Streeter (1843-1908).
Poplar Grove Church
[near Petersburg, Virginia]
November 18th 1864
Dear Sister and all the folks,
Yours was received last night in company with one from Annie and I was very glad to hear you all & all the folks were well, and I was very glad to hear you were all well. I am well—never better in my life. There is nothing to write about—not a thing. Everything is quiet. But there is another fight a brewing and a big one at that. Then I will have something to write about. It has been very quiet and very pleasant lately, but it has set in for a storm for it rains quite hard now.
I have not received Annie’s box yet but expect it Monday. I was very glad to hear that you had so good a time [on your visit] East.
[George W.] Marsh 1 and I are living pretty well now. We have got a Sutler’s work to do, & take our pay in goods, and sold a horse for him today and charged him 3 dollars, and got some potatoes, butter, & the rest in money. And we bought some beef steak, and tomorrow morning we are going to have boiled potatoes and beef steak. This morning we had hash meat fried brown on the bottom and it went bully, I tell you.
I should like to have some of mother’s brown bread. Dear Sister, it is Taps & the lights are to be put out, & I do not think of any more to write so I will close & try to write more next time. Send my best love to Mother & all the folks & keep a good share for yourself & I will send you some more papers tomorrow.
Please excuse this & I will now close. Good night. From your Brother, — Albert S. Garland
1 George W. Marsh was a 27 year-old carriage trimmer from Chelsea when he enlisted in 1863 to serve in the 11th Massachusetts Light Artillery.