From the Gettysburg Battlefield, July 4th, 1863: Union Soldier Hopes "This Battle Will End the War"

July 4, 1863

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From the Gettysburg Battlefield, July 4th, 1863: Union Soldier Hopes "This Battle Will End the War"
Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 299

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      Background

      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.”
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      Page 1 transcript
      July 4, 1863 
      Battle Field near Gettysburg Pa

      Dear Mother,
      I have a chance to mail a letter so I will write to you for I know you are anxious to hear from me. We are fighting at this place. Our Regt was engaged on Thursday, July 2nd. I am alive and quite well.  I came out of the Battle unharmed. I cannot tell yet with any certainty the loss in our Co. Jonas Snow and Thomas Crosley (Lieutenant) are wounded the missing are Horace Sweet, Richard Farrington, Adolphus Thompson, Albert Peck, Jonathan Locke, William Spear all of our Co. Our Col is slightly wounded in the hand, Our Adjutant in the hip. The Major is missing and also Acting Sergt. Major James Houghtaling. Our Regt. numbers about 60 men.  

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      Page 2 transcript
      We are confident of victory I seen some of the 150th Regt, Pa. Vols. and was informed by them that Samuel Pfeiffer was killed. Peter Kepler was sick in the hospital  there for he was not in the battle. I got two letters from you last week also some papers and a pocket handkerchief. I also got a letter from Wirt Chase. Let him see this or else acquaint him with the loss of our Co. I will write soon again if god spares my life. This is very poor writing, but I guess you can make out what it is. I hope this Battle will end the war so that I may return home to you. May God Bless and protect you all.  My love to you all, I remain your affectionate son

      Ellis C. Strouss