This letter was written by Sgt. Daniel Hilsey Harrison (1839-1873), the oldest son of John Dillenger Harrison (1814-1888) and Nancy Ann Gearhart (1817-1903) of Fairmount, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. He wrote the letter to his little sister, Huldah A. Harrison (1844-1924).
Daniel wrote the letter while serving in Co. A, 52nd Pennsylvania Infantry. The letter was penned from Fort Scott—not far from Yorktown—just two days before the Rebels evacuated their fortifications and retreated toward Williamsburg. Despite being captured with several others in his regiment on 3 July 1864, Daniel survived the war and returned home to marry Deborah Ann Shultz (1844-1908) in 1865. He moved to Vermilion county, IL, where he became a farmer but did not live long.
Camp Scott, Virginia
May 2, 1862
Miss Huldah A. Harrison
Tis with pleasure I take my pen in hand to answer yours of the 18th. Glad to hear that you are all well. It found me well and these few lines leaves me yet the same, hoping they may find you enjoying the same blessing.
We have had very bad weather here for a long time—foggy, rainy, and wet—very bad for those who have nothing to cover them but the heavens when they lie down at night. Yet we do not complain. I feel as contented as thought I were at home although I long to see you all and hope the time will shortly come when we shall have the pleasure of conversing together again.
We are lying within four miles of Yorktown with the only four miles of Yorktown with the enemy only a few hundred yards in front of us. There is not a day hardly passes over our heads but what we see some one of our fellow soldiers cut down by the rebel pickets, We with sorrow carry them to their last resting place and there is no telling what another day may bring forth. Before this reaches you, I may be numbered with the dead. But thank God it is in a glorious cause trying with hundreds of thousands of others to help put down rebellion which has risen in our once free and happy country. Where is the man that can stand under that star spangled banner—the emblem of our liberty—trampled in the dust; that which our forefathers fought, bled and died to gain for us. No, give us death or victory.
Dear sister, as the word has come that our regiment is to go on picket in a few hours, I will have to close for this time hoping soon to hear from you. Tell mother that I want her to write [and] not to wait for me to answer her letters for we have a poor chance of writing here. I bid you all goodbye. Give my best respects to all enquiring friends if there should chance to be any such.
— D. H. Harrison
[to] Miss Huldah A. Harrison