Confederate Letter Written By John T. Heflin Company A of the Fauquier Artillery (38th Battalion Virginia Artillery) – DESCRIBING THE CRATER EXPLOSION AT PETERSBURG! – “THE NEGROES HOLLERED OUT “NO QUARTERS!” AND SAID, “REMEMBER FORT PILLOW,” AND THEY SAID THAT OUR MEN DIDN’T SHOW THEM ANY QUARTERS, BUT JUST SHOT THEM DOWN LIKE DOGS.” “…THEY SAW BLOOD IN THE TRENCHES RUNNING ABOUT TWO INCHES DEEP.”
This 3-page letter written in dark blue ink was written on a blank “Quarterly Return of Deceased Soldier” form! Here is the great content:
- August 3rd, 1864. Dear Father and Mother, I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that we are all well at this time and hope when these few lines come to hand, they may find you all well. I have nothing much to write at this time more than usual.
- Only one thing, that is THE YANKEES BLOWED UP ABOUT A HUNDRED YARDS OF OUR BREASTWORK with two Companies of Infantry and one Company of Artillery. Our men, of course, had to give back for a while but soon rallied and before night retaken all the works which we lost in the morning.
- We lost between seven and eight hundred men that day, and the Yankees loss was still heavier than ours.
- THE YANKEES NEGROES MOUNTED OUR BREASTWORKS AND SEEING OUR MEN BURIED IN THE SAND AND COULDN’T GET OUT IN TIME TO GET AWAY FROM WHERE THEY WERE BLOWN UP.
- THE NEGROES HOLLERED OUT “NO QUARTERS!” AND SAID, “REMEMBER FORT PILLOW,” AND THEY SAID THAT OUR MEN DIDN’T SHOW THEM ANY QUARTERS, BUT JUST SHOT THEM DOWN LIKE DOGS.
- WE KILLED OVER SEVEN HUNDRED MEN DEAD RIGHT IN OUR BREASTWORK, WHITE AND BLACK BOTH, MIXED TOGETHER. SO THEY DIDN’T MAKE ANYTHING BY THEIR BLOW AT LAST FOR WE KILLED BETWEEN SEVEN AND EIGHT HUNDRED AND TAKEN OVER A THOUSAND PRISONERS. SO THEY MADE NOTHING THAT TIME.
- OUR MEN SAID, WHAT SAW THE YANKEES DEAD IN OUR BREASTWORK, SAID THAT THEY WAS JUST PILED ACROSS ONE ANOTHER, AND THEY SAID THAT THEY SAW BLOOD IN THE TRENCHES RUNNING ABOUT TWO INCHES DEEP.
- Frank Cable was one of the men that saw it, and so you may believe that it was so. The Yankees have burnt down over twenty houses in town since they have been here. The town don’t favor itself hardly.
- That is about all the news that I know at this time, but OUR MEN AND THE YANKEES FIGHT MORE OR LESS EVERY DAY, BOTH IN THE DITCHES, NOT MORE THAN A HUNDRED YARDS APART IN SOME PLACES.
- I would like to have some more yarn socks this winter, if you could get them to me, but don’t injure yourselves for me, but tell Billy he must try and get me a pair of winter boots and keep them for me, if he can do it. Mother, I wish if you could this fall, if you have any dresses wore, if you would make me two or three shirts, if you can spare the cloth, but don’t do it unless you can spare the cloth.
- I CAN DRAW PLENTY OF WHITE COTTON SHIRTS HERE, BUT THEY AREN’T HALF MADE AND ALWAYS RIPPING TO PIECES, AND THEY ARE SO HARD TO WASH, TOO. So that I would like to have them colored on that account. So write to me and let me know what you think about it, so I will know what to do, and tell Billy to write to me and let me know what the chance is for the boots.
- I don’t want none of these things yet, but I just want to know whether I can get them or not if I should want them. So nothing more at present, only to remember each other until death. John Thomas Heflin to William Heflin
ADDED BONUS: JOHN HEFLIN’S FRIEND DANIEL J. KINES, ALSO IN COMPANY A, ASKED JOHN TO WRITE A LETTER TO HIS MOTHER (ANN KINES). Daniel was illiterate. We know this because he signed a clothing receipt with a “X”. The two families were close and John Heflin later married Daniel’s sister. Anyway, on the 4th page John writes this letter for Daniel:
- Dear Mother, I seat myself with this present opportunity to write you a line to let you know that we are all well at this time and hope when these few lines come to hand, they may find you all well. Mother, I want to know how you are a getting a long for something to eat and how times is with you at this time. So write to me and let me know how you are getting a long and what you are a doing. I have nothing to write at this time more than common. Write to me all the good news you know, and let me know how all the neighborhood people is a getting along. Give my best respects to all inquiring friends and tell that I would be glad to see them all. Answer this letter as soon you can and let me hear from you all. Something more at present, only to remember each other until death. Daniel Kines to Ann Kines
THIS LETTER IS THE MOST GRAPHIC CONFEDERATE DESCRIPTION OF THE UNION’S “CRATER” DISASTER THAT WE HAVE READ. Condition is excellent, a true museum piece.
#L8-3-64 VA – Price $1,795