148th Pennsylvania Letter ArchiveUnion Soldier's Letter Archive of Jacob Seyde Lander of the Pennsylvania 148th Infantry, Company "C". Lander enlisted on August 27, 1862 as a sergeant, and was promoted to 1st lieutenant on October 31, 1863. He was killed in action at the Battle of Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864. The archive includes approximately 15 letters by Lander (who signs his letters with his middle name, "Seyde") all war-dated, chiefly his sister Belle, with a few to his brother Will, and mother and father. His letters span the dates September 26, 1862 until May 26, 1864, about a week before he was killed. The archive also includes letters (approximately 12) written to Bell Lander by other soldiers including one describing in detail how her brother was killed at Cold Harbor. An additional 15 plus post war letters comprised largely of family correspondence is also present.
Lander's letters are lengthy, and include both battle content as well as life in camp. What follows are partial transcripts of several of his letters:
"[October 10, 1862, Camp Forster, a letter to Bell.] The young man that accidentally shot his finger and thumb off is getting along finely. He will be kept here until his fingers get well then if he is not fit for duty will be discharged. He says he doesn not wish to go until we are all allowed to."
"[November 5, 1862, Camp Forster, to Bell.] Fighting has been going on since Sunday. I have received no late papers and cannot tell much about it. We hear the cannonading quite distinctly from here it is kept up continually. Hope 'Mac' will give them 'fits' before winter sets in for after that there will be but little fighting."
"[January 18, 1863, Camp near Fredericksburg, to Bell.] Early this evening three Rebel pickets came across and claimed the protection of our pickets having first thrown their arms in the river. They were very thinly clad belonged to the 2nd Miss. Battalion. I had no opportunity to converse with them the field officer of the day hurried them off to headquarters thinking they might communicate something that would be of importance to us at present. The poor fellows were nearly froze their clothes were wet from head to foot...Our brigade received marching orders again on Friday to leave early on Saturday morning were afterward countermanded. Today got orders to take three days rations in haversack and three in wagons and have everything ready to leave tomorrow. I feel loathe to leave our quarters which we have made very comfortable and convenient. I think from certain indications and movements there will be a battle before this reaches you. Where the strike will be made I am unable to say. Some think our Corps will move farther up the river with Siegel [Union Major General Franz Sigel] attack them on the right while others attract them on the left and center. I hope we will meet with success for such a defeat as we suffered at Fredericksburg greatly discourages an army."
"[March 16, 1863, Camp Handcock, to Bell.] There was a very sudden death in Co. H of our regiment yesterday. He was a drummer and had beaten the retreat on Saturday evening, took sick in the night and the next day about noon he died. His disease was congestive chills. I am not able to say whether he will be sent home or not. His brother who is in the 155th got here about five minutes before he died. He called for him but was not conscious of his presence. Dr. Davis is much censured because he did not go immediately to see him but waited until he was sent for three times. Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day. The Irish Brigade expects to have a great time. Horse racing, leaping ditches, climbing a greased pole and catching a greased pig will form the amusement of the day to close up no doubt with a row and some swelled heads as liquor will be plenty on the occasion."
A letter from Union Soldier Harry Stevens of Co. A, Milroy's Brigade, 2nd Virginia (4 pages, 4.5" x 7.5") written to sister Bell Lander includes a description of the Battle of Cedar Mountain and the death of Confederate General Charles Sydney Winders and a great account of the loss at Bull Run: "Camp near Washington DC. Sept 17, / 62... The day I rec'd yours I was on picket duty & when we returned to our camp our Regt had gone some eight hours ahead of us so we had to follow in hot haste. Since that time I have been on constant marching & fighting till within a day back. I have now just come off picket duty & feel drowsy & sleepy so excuse my heedless composition. We went from Woodville to Culpepper C. H. & from there to the Battle of Slaughters Mountain [Cedar Mountain]. Our division was not up till the 2nd & 3rd days & the 3rd day the enemy sent in a flag of truce for the dead Genl Winters [Charles Sydney Winder, killed at Cedar Mountain, August 9, 1862] & Adjt Genl Pegram [John Pegram, later killed at the Battle of Hatcher's Run]. But they had not time to get Pegram's body so he is interred on a knoll near the highway towards Orange C. H. [Stevens actually describes the circumstances of Winders death and interment]. This Pegram had his head & part of one shoulder shot away by a solid shot. We went as far as the Rapidan River & returned according to order & from there to Sulphur Springs in Fauquier Co. here along the Rappahannock River. We had some eight or nine hard days of successive fighting & annoying the enemy. We then went to Warrenton & from there to the junction from there towards Bull Run & lastly to Bull Run & there heavy work for our brigade. Our Genl Milroy is always ready for fight or anything of that sort. We fought the center & then held the enemy's left in check where McDowell [Major General Irvin McDowell] should have fought. 4 of my co. fell beside me 3 of them I helped out of the field afterwards & the 4th was killed we left him on the field. We retreated in good order & slowly too for we were so tired we could not go fast if we wanted to. We fell back to Centerville & from there to the Potomac near Georgetown..." Written on a bifolium sheet featuring a cartouche of General McClellan. Very clean with light soiling to the last page, and tiny separations occurring at the folds at the very edges.
A letter to Lander's brother from David G. Rolston, also of the 148th Regiment, Pennsylvania Infantry, gives a poignant and exact account of Lander's death: "[June 28, 1864]. Camp near Petersburg...With a sorrowful heart [illegible] by the loss of a friend which was thy dear brother on the morning of the 3rd of this month. I will now give you all the information I can of his death & etc. ...On the morning of the 3rd of this month our Corps was ordered to make a charge on enemy works which we did but our part of the line was repulsed we fell back under cover of a hill and took a stand there and commenced to put up works, whilst laying there the enemy opened up a battery on us and gave us a shelling and an [illegible] shell to us happened to explode front of where we were laying and a piece of it struck your brother on the head, making a great gash in it. He laid right back and never spoke a word after he was struck and lived about two hours after he received the wound. I had him taken back to the rear by Sergt Graham and three men immediately after he was wounded and they stayed with him until his spirit took its flight to that better land..." The letter goes on to record where he was buried and the disposition of his belongings. Two pages written in pencil, 7.5" x 9.5". With some paper loss along the left margin resulting affecting many words, but not the context.
Lander's death is described in more graphic detail in a letter to Belle from Captain William E. Graham also of the 148th Pennsylvania: "[November 21, 1864.] Camp before Petersburg... I seat myself in compliance with your request through Wendel Muffly Lieut. of our Regt. Who has just arrived from a visit home to family and friends. He informed me that you were anxious to hear from me regarding your brother's burial. I have the honor to inform you that I buried him myself and I did it in the most respectful manner I could under the present circumstances. I took his effects and gave them to Lieut. Rolston... I buried him under a large cedar tree close to a large gate just at the entrance to a large field a part of the Battle field of Cold Harbor. He was killed on the 3rd of June 1864 the ball entered the forehead and came out the back part of his head killing him almost instantly. He lived about two hours after he received the wound but never spoke. He died in my arms with his head supported by my breast. I inscribed his name, date of death & etc. on the headboard of his grave which now is in the possession of the enemy..." Two pages of a bifolium, with blank integral attached. Flattened folds, with tiny bits of paper loss occurring where the folds meet; also, the lower quarter of the blank integral has been torn off, not affecting any text.
Condition: Individual condition of the letters vary. Most are very good, with a few having complete separations. Included are several incomplete letters.
The 148th Pennsylvania Infantry was organized at Harrisburg and mustered in for a three-year enlistment on September 8, 1862 under the command of Colonel James Addams Beavers. The regiment saw much action and participated in the battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania Courthouse, and Cold Harbor among many others. The regiment lost a total of 397 men during service; 12 officers and 198 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded, 4 officers and 183 enlisted men died of disease.
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