A Letter from the Battlefield of the Civil War

Waiting for James Henry

Written by James Henry Triplett

Ship Point, York Co. Va.

September 4, 1861

My Dear Mother and Sister,

I received both of your kind letters late last night and was indeed very glad to hear from home again. I have had a bad spell of Bilious fever since we left Yorktown and am very week (sic) yet. If I take proper care of myself I shall be as well as ever. I think that this may be a healthier place than Yorktown, but the water is very bad, mudy (sic), and salty. We are encamped on a point of land on the Bay, covered with pines. We have pine poles for a bed, pine poles for a table, and pine poles to cook with, and have to make a smoke with pine brush in front of our tents at night to keep off mosquitoes. I received the oil cloth and drawers that were sent and like them very well. I do not know whether to send for my overcoat or not but I will need another blanket pretty soon. If you have any chance to send a small box I would like to have some paper & envelopes ink & pens,(jsp?) I would like to have some butter too, but you need not trouble too much. We can get plenty of fish and sweet potatoes here and a few chickens, by exchanging our bacon.


Our regiment has never been paid off yet. We have not seen anything of the Yankees yet except ships, we see vessels sailing down the Cheasepeake (sic) everyday and one of the Blockade Steamers is constantly in sight. Jim Young, Bob Coleman, (not sure of this next name) Stringler or Stringles or Dringles or Dringler; and several others were out scouting last night. They caught a Tori Verginian (sic), near fortrep Munroe; who was keeping a light house on some point there, for the Yankees. He was sent to Yorktown this morning.

Gen Hill is here looking well as ever. We can hear heavy firing here almost everyday, and our chance for a fight are pretty good.

I would like very much to be at home now, to eat apples & peaches.

Our time will be out about the 18th of Nov. The I will be home to spend the winter as soon as I get there. Give my love to all the family. I want to see you all very much. Give my love to all my friends, and write again soon.

Yours Affectionately


This is all the paper that I’ve got and it is borrowed, so I wrote to both of you at once. James

James Henry Triplett

Born: November 3, 1843

Died: July 1, 1863 ( Died in the Civil War in the Battle of Gettysburg)


Forgive me for it being over 200 words. I was going to write a story about a mother, sister, or wife waiting for their soldier to return home from war. I remembered the original letter that I have which was written by my distant cousin to his mother and sister. I felt this might be very interesting to the other participants and readers of this challenge.

As a footnote, James Henry’s sister and another brother, died the same year as his him, 1863.



32 thoughts on “A Letter from the Battlefield of the Civil War

  1. I think perhaps he is still *weak*?..interesting take on the photo.I also have a collection of letters sent from a young man to his lady friend while he served overseas in the 1940s. Tiny pieces of history to be treasured.

  2. What a priceless piece of history to have! Very cool! And I agree with Cat, that line is what struck me the most, don’t want to be to much trouble! Sounds like he was a very humble and great guy. Sad about his loss and his family dying that year too!

  3. Such a touching letter. Can you imagine saying don’t trouble too much over me when you’re out in some war zone? What a treasure you have here, PJ.

    • Thank you Ellespeth. It is a wonderful thing to have specially after researching all the history around it and that he is my distant cousin. Yes, it is sad that he didn’t want to trouble his mother to send him some butter.

    • Yes, that is what makes it even sadder. To lose 3 children in the same year. I do not know the dates or reasons why the other two children died. I couldn’t find that out on geneology.

  4. I very much like this take on history. Being I am more or less from PA 😉

    It is quite amazing what we can learn from the past. I have an old address book from my FIL – The addresses home hardly had anything but a name, street and town. And the handwriting is telling too I think. Conscious of space often writing is petite, as well as faded and hard to read. What a treasure you have.

    I went with fiction:
    Off the pirate track as well.

  5. This was, indeed, a very sad time – as is any war, in any place, I know. Stories like this always seem so much more poignant when presented in letter form. They are so very personal and we feel the writer’s pain or sorrow. You have written it all so well, too – even down to the (sic) additions. A lovely, touching story.

    • Thank you Mille, that was from a “real” letter. My distant cousin wrote it to his mother and sister while he was in the battlefield in Virginia. The year he died in the Battle of Gettysburg (1863), his sister and brother also died (I don’t know what from).

      • Ah, I had assumed you’d just had access to the letter in a library or suchlike. That it was your distsnt cousin makes the story even more poignant. I don’t know a great deal about the American Civil War (I’m English) but I think I ought to get reading! I loved what you wrote – I adore anything historical and you have an amazing piece of historical evidence there. 🙂

  6. Great to be in possession of that letter, Joy, and to know the history surrounding it. A lot of families lost children in those days due to war and disease. One of my great grandmothers lost 3 of her 4 children. My grandfather was the only one to survive, marry, and have children. Two of her children, girls, died very young. One of her sons died in his twenties. Those are the “good old days” people speak about. I enjoyed the story. Well done. — Suzanne

    • Thank you Suzanne! Yes, that’s a laugh. “The good ol’ days.” Ha! Yes, children often died back then from disease. Probably diseases that are common in our day too but we have medicine and antibiotics for them now. I think knowing as much as possible of our own family’s history is very rewarding.

I would love to read your thoughts...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s