57th Virginia soldier writes about Yankee prison in Richmond

Jonathon Dill, 57th Virginia Infantry, C.S.A, sends a letter to his father a rather lighthearted, early in the war letter with exceptional content:


Friday Sept 6 1861.

Camp of Instruction.

Dear Father

As we have got settled down at last for awhile I will give you a short history of my trip to Richmond, we arrived at Lynchburg on Friday, and we encamped there about eight days, we had very good times there, we then left for Richmond, and arrived at Richmond safe, we had no bad luck except our Baggage Car broke down and we had to leave our Baggage until next day, but we got it all safe and we are now encamped in the Fair Ground about two miles from the City, l am very well satisfied.

I get plenty to eat, Good bacon, Flour, Rice, Sugar & coffee Three Times a day and some to spare, I have my health first rate so far and a good appetite and am getting as fat as a Hog. We are getting along very well indeed I think, It looks more like a frolick here than war, but it may not be so very long. I suppose when we are drilled and can get our guns the Captain will move us on somewhere or other. There are supposed to be about Thirty or forty Thousand Soldiers encamped in and around Richmond, but it is rather hard for us to tell how many there are but there there certainly a great many. They are throwing up Brest works around Richmond very fast. They have negroes at work at it.

There are Five Tobacco Factories full of yankee Prisoners in Richmond there is said to be about Two Thousand of them. I was down to see them the other day and I tell you they are stout looking men some of them are very impudent. I saw a great many new things in Richmond. I was all through the Capitol and on top of it. I could see all over Richmond and Manchester. I saw a good many vessels both sail and steam.

I saw old Simon Guggenheimer he seemed very glad to see me, he treated me very well. Tell Eliza I saw Mr. Lewis Burger in Richmond and took dinner with him, he told me if I got sick I must not go to the Hospittle , but must come to his House and he would take care of me. I would hate very much to go to the Hospittle if I should happen to get sick amoung so many sick men and different diseases. A great many of the men that are sick has brought it on themselves by their own bad doings.If I was in the condition that some of them are in I would get the surgeon to cut my head off instead of what he does do, you know Richmond is the place for such doings.

We have to do the very drilling hey put us through the Double quick that gives some of boys particular fits, it is not like walking along in an old militia company. Some of our boys had to come back, I suppose though you have seen them. I would like to know the use of men volunteering and then trying to get off. I volunteered to fight, not for the sake of a trip to Richmond.

Some of our boys reed. A letter this evening Stating that the Over seer had gotten into better business, I suppose he would rather drive a team for Jeff Davis than to fight Yankees. When the news came to camp you should have heard the Laughing every thing just roared. Tell the Old Lady that when I get home I think I will be hard to please about my eating. If she could just see us cooking once it would make her ashamed we are such extra good cooks…

You must be particular about directing (letters),

Direct to Richmond Virginia in the care of Captain J.J. Allen Botetourt Guards?Jno. Dill ”

The Botetourt Guards in Company K of the 57th Virginia was organized on July 20, 1861 in Botetourt County, Virginia. Includes the original envelope with Richmond postmark and black “PAID 5 Cts” postal stamp. With the exception of usual fold marks, overall Fine condition.

One comment

  1. Is it possible to obtain a good quality scan of the original letter, envelope, etc? I would be willing to pay for this.

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