Hello! and welcome to my first blog attempt. I decided a couple of years ago that I was going to share a family heirloom with anyone who is interested in the writings of a common soldier during the American Civil War. I am lucky enough to have all of the original letters written home by my great-great grandfather, John W. Derr, during his four years of service in the Union army. John was a private in the 48th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry (48th PVI) from September 1861 through July 1865, when he was mustered out. Unfortunately, I do not have any letters during the year 1863. I have inquired within the family but have never been able to locate the letters, if they ever, or still exist. My father received these letters from his grandmother and she stated, before her death in 1959, that she believed that all of the letters that existed were in her possession. We will never know.
My plan with this blog is to publish letters on the 150th anniversary of each individual one. So for example, my first letter publishing will be September 3, 2011, exactly 150 years to the day when John sent home his first letter to his parents Peter and Katherine Derr. Before that first letter is published, I will blog on background for John and his family to give you a feel for his life and times. Now...I warn all of you that these letters, while being unique for being together after 150 years, are...in general....rather boring. You will be seeing the writings of a common soldier. Not a General or a Captain. Not a great strategist or world leader. Just a common soldier...who at the time...was more interested in where is pay ended up, or getting a parcel from his parents to supplement his diet. Still, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have over the years.