July 04, 1863

Rare Letter from the Gettysburg Battlefield, Dated July 4th, 1863: Union Soldier Hopes “This Battle Will End the War”

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 299
Writing from the field of the greatest battle ever fought on American soil, in this rare letter from Gettysburg, Private Strouss of the 57th Pennsylvania Infantry tells his mother that he is alive, unharmed, and although unsure, on July 4th, who has won, he hopes that “this Battle will end the war” so that he may return home. Of the 50,000 casualties at Gettysburg, he names those in his Company who fell on July 2nd, but says, he is confident of victory:

I cannot tell yet with any certainty the loss in our Company. Jonas Snow and Thomas Crosley (Lieutenant) are wounded. Among the missing are Horace Sweet, Richard Farrington, Adolphus Thompson, Albert Peck, Jonathan Locke, William Spear—all of our Company. Our Colonel is slightly wounded in the hand, our Adjutant in the hip. The Major is missing and also Acting Sgt. Major James Houghtaling. Our Regt. numbers about 60 men.  We are confident of victory
. I seen some of the 150th Regt., PA Vols. and was informed that Samuel Pfeiffer was killed…

Private Strouss adds a final wish: “I will write soon again if God spares my life... I hope this Battle will end the war so that I may return home.”

Strouss was indeed spared – and promoted: well into the war, on April 2, 1865, there is a report in the Official Records – written during the famous "9 Days" of Lee's retreat to Appomattox - that reads, “To Brigadier General Pierce, General, I have the honor to report that a considerable force of the enemy is moving toward their right (our left). I cannot give a correct estimate of the number, probably one division. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant, E.C. STROUSS, Captain, 57th PA Veteran Volunteers, In Charge of the 2nd Brigade Pickets."
Autograph Letter Signed, in pencil, 2 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Battlefield near Gettysburg, July 4, 1863. To “Dear Mother.”
View American Civil War Manuscripts.
Read transcript Bookmark