Letters From the Civil War

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Jacob Shirk Letter After the Battle of Gettysburg

Greenvillage, July 8th, 1862

Greencastle resident Jacob Shirk describes the Confederate Army presence in the days leading up to the Battle of Gettysburg.


Letter of Elijah McGee Daihl to his brother Rueben

August 28, 1862

Shippensburg resident and Union army private Elijah Daihl reveals his thoughts on war in the weeks before his first battle.

Letter of Joshua W. McCoy to his brother and sister

Camp Vernon, October 1861

Union Army private Joshua W. McCoy writes about skirmishes with Confederate soldiers near his troop’s encampment.

Letter of W. Wallace to his sister Lydia E. Wallace

Sept. 21, 1862

W. Wallace sends news of the war to his sister. He describes how the war has effected their friends and neighbors.


Resources for Teachers

Has e-mail killed the art of letter writing -- or is the skill still flourishing via phone lines and cable? Whatever your opinion about those questions may be, there's no doubt that letter writing is an essential skill that incorporates and builds upon many other skills. Students learn grammar, spelling, communication, geography, and cultural diversity through shared letter writing. With the right resources – activities that engage students and emphasize the practical -- letter writing can be a source of learning and an opportunity for classroom fun! Below are some opportunities to encourage letter writing in your students.

http://www.truckerbuddy.org/
Trucker Buddy International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and mentoring schoolchildren via a pen pal relationship between professional truck drivers with 2
nd-8th grade classes. Every week, drivers share news about their travels with their class. Once a month, students write letters to their drivers. Students’ skills in reading, writing, geography, math, social studies, and history are enhanced and learning is fun.

http://pbskids.org/arthur/games/letterwriter/
PBS Kids and popular children’s book character, Arthur, offers examples of different letter forms and the parts of a letter. Students can write a letter to Arthur or one of his friends and get an immediate response.

http://adoptaplatoon.org/site/
AdoptaPlatoon Soldier Support Effort® founded in 1998 is a volunteer based nonprofit organization dedicated to serving deployed United States Service Men and Women ensuring that they are not forgotten by a grateful Nation. Classes can register to pen pal with a single soldier or an entire troop. Students of all ages enjoy designing greeting cards and writing letters to the troops.  Teachers can incorporate this patriotic opportunity into your lesson plans. 

Jacob Shirk Letter After the Battle of Gettysburg

The people have put up no hay wearth speaking of, on account of the wet whether and also on account of the people run their horses off to prevent the Rebels stealing them. Thare was no corn plowed at all. Corn is growing without working. Allmost every horse in the country is taken to the mountain. Anram and J. Bittinger and others took their horses to Harrisburg and crossed the river. Abram expects his horses home by to morrow. Thare had been hundreds of horses taken along the North Mountain. 

At least one of the the Officers came down to Greenvillage and toled the citisons that they nead not be afraid, that they would not be disturbed, but that they wanted them to keep off the street, so we did. Shortly after that thare came about six hundred of them down to the village and stopt in the village…Next came the wagon trains, probably three hundered. They had 72 Canons, 4 Brass Canons. Next came the infantry, some estimated them to be about twenty thousand. Some five thousand whare encampt in Bittingers Woods adjoining my farm. They burnt about forty panels of fence…they went on to the Cherry trees, broke down limbs, took them on their sholders and carried them to their encampment. They broke of garden pailings, went and stole all Abrahams onions an radishes. 

They came back through Greenvillage, turnd off thare and went through Fayetteville, over the mountain to go to Baltimore and then to Washington. But they got no further than Gettysburg. They had an awful fight there. There they found Meeds force too strong for them. General Meed took Hookers place. The Rebels wanted licker but they got nothing but Meed! So they had to retreat. Theey came across the mountain the mountain at Greenwood, turned off thare and went towards Greencastel. Thare had been some cannonading heard in that direction for several days past. 

Jacob Shirk Letter after the Battle of Gettysburg 
Greenvillage, July 8th, 1863 
Narrated by Nathan Vink, Chambersburg, PA 


To learn more about the Confederate Army’s March through Greencastle: 
http://www.marchtodestiny.org/history.htm 


To learn more about General Meade: 
http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/getttour/sidebar/meadebio.htm 

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Letter of Elijah McGee Daihl to his brother Rueben


This Cutry is like a Desert I don’t know what the rebbl wants with it now nor what any body els wins wit it I wouldn’t live here for any thing but for to fight the rebbles for I intend to fight them till they kill me or els I kill them 

Letter of Elijah McGee Daihl to his brother Rueben 
August the 28 AD 1862 
Narrated by Randy Culler, Chambersburg, PA 

Recorded in: 
The Daihl Family of Cumberland Valley Pennsylvania 
Samuel Lester Daihl, 2008 

Elijah Daihl died on Sept 17, 1862 in the Battle of Antietam at a place known as Bloody Lane. He was 18 years old. His identification papers were missing from his body, so he was buried in the National Cemetery at Sharpsburg, Maryland, where he now rests among the unknown dead. 

To learn more about the Battle of Antietam: 
http://www.civilwarhome.com/antietam.htm 

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Letter of Joshua W. McCoy to his brother and sister


We had a fight yesterday we were taking out as fast as the horses could run for 12 miles and we shot at them. There were five of them fell off the horses dead and I took four prisoners. I helped to fetch them into camp and we got seven horses too from the rebels. 

Letter of Joshua W. McCoy to his brother and sister 
Camp Vernon, October 1861 
Narrated by Eric Hoover, Chambersburg, PA 

Recorded in: 
Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in the Civil War 
Burkhart,W., Daihl, S., McCulloch, J., Kaluger, G., et. Al. 
Burd Street Press, Shippensburg, PA 2003 

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Letter of W. Wallace to his sister Lydia E. Wallace

Dear Sister did you hear any of the bad news yet? Did you know Brother had gone off to War? He started last Friday about 3 O’clock; I was in Shippensburg to see him off…Preacher Hays went along with them. I do not know if he intends staying with them or not; he had his sword and uniform on anyhow. Did you hear how Capt. Kelso’s company is cut up? It is dreadful; poor Elijah Diehl was killed and Joseph Matthews; Henry Miller that was married to that Miss Lesher that belongs to the Reformed Church; he was married just a few days before he went to the army; she is a young widow married six weeks only. 

Letter of W. Wallace to his sister Lydia E. Wallace 
Sept. 21, 1862 
Narrated by Cory Myers, Marion, PA 

Recorded in: 
Shippensburg, Pennsylvania in the Civil War 
Burkhart,W., Daihl, S., McCulloch, J., Kaluger, G., et. Al. 
Burd Street Press, Shippensburg, PA 2003 

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