I assume this letter was written by J. Lewis Pierson of Co. C, 39th New Jersey. It seems clear from the letter that he served with William Britton Durie (1840-1916) who was in that company and regiment in May 1865 when this letter was written.
The author wrote the letter to Mary Emma Durie (1846-1927), the daughter of Samuel Durie (1814-1901) and Nancy Maxwell (1817-1891) of New Providence, Union County, New Jersey. Emma’s brother, William Brittin Durie (1840-1916) was in Co. C, 39th New Jersey during 1864 and 1865. The 39th New Jersey manned the breastworks at City Point, Va., October, 1864, then moved to Poplar Grove Church. Battle of Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run, Va., October 27-28, 1864. Siege of Petersburg till April 2, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 2, 1865. Assault on and capture of Petersburg April 2. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. Moved to City Point, thence to Washington and Alexandria April 20-27. Grand Review May 23. Mustered out June 17, 1865.
The 39th New Jersey Infantry was attached to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps.
Addressed to Miss M. E. Durie, New Providence, N. J.
Postmarked Alexandria, Virginia
Headquarters Second Div. Ninth Army Corps
Office Assistant Commissary of Musters
Near Alexandria, Va.
May 11th 1865
Your note of the 4th instant duly received on the 8th and I thank you for the prompt response my last met with.
Your letter has not been answered before for this reason — excuse me if I speak plainly — I have waited in order to think what kind of a letter I should write in reply. The first time I perused that letter, I thought you had tired of the correspondence and wrote as cooly as you did to give me the hint — and then again I thought the reports of Miss M. E. Condic’s had lessened your friendship for me — that you would sooner believe the statements of one of your own sex than the mere appearance of one of the opposite sex, and had I given your letter an immediate reply, it would have displeased you. But now that I have taken a “sober second thought” (I was not intoxicated when your letter reached me) I hope I was mistaken. At least I will write as if I was and if you are displeased with me and wish to end the correspondence, please say so plainly for I endeavor to treat everyone candidly and hope to secure the same treatment from them.
If the ladies of the North consider it a pleasure to receive letters from the soldiers, they in return consider it both a pleasure and an honor to correspond with the fair damsels of the North.
I too hope it may prove time that we may soon retire to the society of the loved ones at home. One regiment in our Division has received a sixty days furlough and will soon leave for home. We all feel that if our work is done we should be at liberty and if it is not, it should be completed now. I would give one hundred dollars in gold to be at home for one hundred hours — but am not homesick.
I should like to see that “fashion of your own” you are going to establish in reference to your bonnet. You must be exceedingly independent to transgress the rules of society.
No, Emma, I have not forgotten that promise to send you one of my cards [CDVs] and will fulfill it just as soon as possible. As yet, those I ordered in Newark have not arrived but I will have some taken in Washington just as soon as possible and you shall receive a good one. And while speaking of promises, allow me to remind you that promised me a longer letter next time.
I sincerely pity your brother Britten. They are just killing him at these headquarters. If you will believe me, they make him do two hours duty out of every twenty-four and both he and I are getting most outrageously lazy.
Today the sun shines for the first time this week and I reckon it is a welcome visitor.
Does William give you any description of Alexandria and its inhabitants? If his ideas coincide with mind, he will pronounce the whole set a disgusting spectacle. I am disgusted with the whole Southern people and wish we could establish a protective tariff by making a wall in the Atlantic Ocean by piling them up in it. Now is not that a barbarous idea?
I cannot write more and if you knew the circumstances under which this has been written, you [would] excuse all errors and insufficiencies.
Please let me hear from you very soon and tell me just what you think of this letter.
I remain your sincere friend, — Lew