• Two PA Civil War Letters Detail Sadness over Lincoln's Death, Spending Time at Ford's Theater, Darkies on the Streets

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                                                                Soldier's Relic Included

    The nation mourned the death of President Lincoln on April 15, 1865, and here we offer two letters, written by JAMES O. PARMLESS, a soldier, only days after the assassination. He speaks of the sadness permeating the troops and that his brigade is about to hear a funeral sermon.  He also mentions being at Ford’s Theater in late April, that the war is almost over and only soldiers and darkies remain on the streets.  Parmlee includes a feather, as he calls it, from his bed, which is present, and offers violets to his mother. The imprint of one violent is contained on one of the letters. Finally, the covers are included, one sporting the stamp and a bulls eye cancellation.

    Parmlee enlisted as a Private on September 5, 1864, and was mustered into G Co. PA. 211th Infantry.

    3 pp, 5” x 7 ¾”, Camp near Nottoway C.H., VA, April 19, 1865, to his mother.

    “I read your last letter, dated April 13 yesterday, also those papers. When I last wrote we were at Burkesvile Junction & the next day we left it taking the back track & came with mules to this place close to SS R.R. and about a half mile from the little village of Nottoway C.H.  It is a rather pleasant little place or was before the war but no one is on the streets now but Union & Rebel Soldiers and darkies. It seems so quiet to me. As you say Mother, the Army of the Potomac has won a great victory but how can we rejoice in it now after the great calamity that has befallen the nation in the death of our beloved President. Oh it is awful, awful to think of, it seems hardly possible to me to think he is dead. His death created a great sensation in the army and is much talked about. Today he is to be buried and a funeral sermon is to be preached to our brigade. It is the general opinion here now that the fighting is about over and that we will not share in the rest of it. I heard Col. Mathers tell Col. Dodd today that we are going soon to Norristown, Pa. All the Pa troops & Gen. Hartrauft were to have command & we are to be furloughed from then until the expiration of our term to be ready for any emergency. Very plausbile isn’t it though. That is a good specimen of camp rumors. The officers tart more than the men. It may be true though. Hope it is. Albert Waters is in Phila. I do not know where any of the other boys are. Waters address is Broad & Cherry Hospital, Ward A 2nd Div., Phila. Pa.  I have recd two letters from him since he left us. He was wounded in the very opening of the fight. What kind of sermon did Dr. Hamilton preach on the occasion of the President’s death.

    “Love to all the family. I’ll send Mattie a feather from my bed (included).

    “J. Parmlee”

    4 pp, 5” x 7 ¾”, April 27, 1865, Alexandria, Virginia to his mother.

    “The last time I wrote you I believe was from Nottoway C.H. just before we left that place. There has some time elapsed since then & a good deal of distance. I should have written before I suppose but I have a good excuse. When a young fella has spent six months in the country without even any country comforts and suddenly finds himself a few minutes walk of a city & a pass in his pocket, letters & almost everything else have to wait until he has a little city life again.  That is my case at least & that must be my excuse. The next day after writing you we packed up and started on our homeward journey. It was very hot & dusty but nevertheless the easiest march I ever made. We averaged about fifteen miles a day though one day we went over twenty. Reached City-Pt Sunday about noon & that night took a transport, the ‘Manhattan,’ & landed at Alexandria Tuesday morning after a very pleasant trip. No one knows why we have been brought up here but a great many think we will be discharged for I can’t see where they need us.   Our whole company has come here & the 1st Div has gone to Washington where we expect to go soon. I have been at A. ever since we got here except a few hours enjoying myself. I had a pass from Lieut. Howard of course but have not had to show it once. They won’t touch a 9th Corps man but are very particular about the passes of everyone else. Much more so since the murder of President Lincoln.  I was at the theater last night & stayed with James Co. all night. The majority of the regiments is there all the time. It seems as though they thought they  could not do too much for us & really I think we deserve some independence after our long confinement. If they would only pay us off, I would send some money. I am totally strapped. I suppose now you will be wanting to come out & see me but I do not think it best.  I hope to be home soon for I think the war is about over.  Almost the whole Army of the Potomac is coming up here & I can’t imagine for what earthly purpose except to be discharged. I saw Capt. Ves Davis yesterday. He said all were well at W. I haven’t received a letter from you since I was at City Pt. Haven’t seen Uncle DeWitt yet but probably soon.

    “Love to all

    “Your son

    “J. Parmlee

    “I sent you some violets from Notoway C.H., Va, accept them with the love of J. Parmlee”  (Imprint of a violet remains on the letter.)

    Both letters have folds, toning and some foxing. The first letter is in pencil and the second in ink. Both are very readable.

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