• Rebels Crossing Lines; Cannonading Heavy Toward Richmond

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    The 205th PA Infantry was recruited in the late summer of 1864. The regiment was sent to the siege lines at Petersburg. With five other Pennsylvania regiments, the 205th was part of a provisional brigade of the IX Corps commanded by Brig. Gen. John F. Hartranft. Later, the 205th became part of the 2nd Brigade. The 205th captured several prisoners and one battle flag at the Battle of Fort Steadman on March 25, 1865. Ten of its men were wounded. At Petersburg, the 205th assaulted Battery 30, capturing more prisoners and another battle flag. During the Appomattox Campaign, the 205th repaired the South Side Railroad. After the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House, the regiment was moved to City Point and then to Alexandria, VA.

    2 pp, 7 ¾” x 9 ½”, Dec. 30th, 1864, Camp Near Hancock Station, VA, Union soldier brothers Henry H. and Jacob W. Otto of Altoona, write to their Father. Punctuation added. Spelling corrected for clarity. Both men were wounded in the final weeks of the war, Henry at Fort Steadman, VA, on March 25th, 1865, and Jacob at Fort Segdwick, VA, on April 2nd.

    “…My paper is not so very plenty and also my stamps gets very scarce, so I can’t write to everyone that I would like. Well I must let you know how the army is getting along. The army is in good health and is in good spirits and hoping that the war will be over till spring there is a pretty good appearance of it being so on account of so many rebels coming across our lines. There is an average of one hundred per day so I think that would weaken their army down very fast. I think that they will get tired of the business before long. They are cannonading very heavy in the direction of Richmond and they fire some heavy salutes at the forts opposite our camp. But they have not throwed any into our camp. The rebels’ lines is not very far off ours. They could throw shells into our camp from their forts…

    “There is a fort called Fort Helm but the most of them calls it Fort Hell. They opened out on one of the Johnnie’s forts and blowed it all to pieces and it made them very angry so they commenced to shell one of our forts called Rice but they did not do much by throwing shells. They could not accomplish anything so they had to quit the business and leave it alone...When we get back we can try and buy a farm with our money so that we will have a home of our own...

    “Your Sons Henry H. Otto and Jacob W. Otto”

    The letter is in one brother’s hand.

    Some toning along three folds on verso, likely from being carried in a pocket. Otherwise neatly written and in very good condition.

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