This letter was written by 43 year-old Harrison Gibble (1822-1898), a private in Co. A, 79th Pennsylvania Infantry. Harrison was the son of Lewis W. Gibble (1798-1851) and Polly Hummer (1800-1853). He was married to Hannah Bentz (1817-1891) about 1845 and worked as a blacksmith in Manheim, Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, prior to and after the Civil War.
Harrison wrote the letter to Henry Clay Gingrich (1825-1907), also of Manheim. He writes of the movements of his regiment in the final days of the war and ends his letter by mentioning the suicide of David H. Showers—an “old soldier” in Co. I, 79th Pa. Infantry, who “hung himself on a sprout of a tree near camp.” According to the company roster, Pvt. Showers died on 16 April 1865.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published by express consent.]
Near Cape Fear River
April 20, 1865
Friend Henry C. Gingrich,
It is with pleasure to write a letter to you to inform you that we got the glorious news today that peace was declared and that we are to be sent home to our respective homes or states before long. Our army had much cheering when we got the news of the fall of Richmond and Petersburg and then the surrender of Gen. Lee. We almost got hoarse. But after the notice or order was read that peace was declared, it made almost the world shutter. How we cheered. Now is the talk in camp, “when do you think we will start to go home, &c.”
All the men are glad that we have conquered the rebs. Our army was doing hard work this last six months but it shows that it paid for doing it. We cut off all their supplies and drove them all the time in our front. We had Old Joe Johnston on a run all the time since we left Goldsboro till we stopped. We struck for the Capitol from Goldsboro and after we came within 15 miles of the city (Raleigh), the governor came to meet General Sherman and surrendered the town or city. The next day, we marched into the city till 10 o’clock A. M. and caught many of Old Joe’s rear guard. We then started next morning to follow his main army and came so close on him on all sides that he sent in a flag of truce for some reason and then we was ordered to stop and lay over till further orders.
So we laid still for 4 days and now we are waiting for orders to go to some other and more convenient place to camp. At present we lay 3 miles from the river to a town called Holy Springs. You can see the place by looking on the map of North Carolina. We have 23 miles to the Capitol.
Henry, I am glad that this unjust war is now coming to an end. It will make many a sad heart rejoice and will bring many a family to a more contented life, and all the troubles of war will be over. I got the sad intelligence of Mr. Hostetter and Frederick Ensminger. They have gone to their everlasting rest. I will come nearer to a close hoping that we Manheim boys may come home to meet you before the next 4th of July and spend that memorable day with you at home in some grove and help you to gather your hay and grain if you will be sactioned to raise any. We must now begin to think what to follow hereafter for our future days and throw away the musket—not to handle it no more.
The weath is fine. Thunder gusts most every other day and everything looks green and fruit trees full of buds all appearances to have much fruit. I will also hope to hear from you when convenient. Your friend, — H. Gibble
Direct to Raleigh, N. Carolina
N. B. Night before last a young man by the name of [David H.] Showers from Adamstown hung himself on a sprout of a tree near camp. Next morning we buried him. He was an old soldier and marched through all this long marches and after all over, hung himself.