Letter – Alfred Sofield, 29 May 1863


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Letter written by Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A, 149th PA Volunteer Infantry “Bucktails,” to his wife Helen, from a camp near Falmouth, VA. Sofield writes that the Confederates may be planning an offensive into Maryland and Pennsylvania. There was recently a news report that Vicksburg had been taken, though that proved to be false. His regiment had previously set up camp on the Fitzhugh Lee Farm, but were forced to move . He mentions the Battle of Chancellorsville, and how his company took several Confederate soldiers prisoner.

Camp near Falmouth, Va

May 29th 1863

My Dear Wife 

     I wrote you yesterday saying that we were under marching orders, and we are still, but our marching depends upon the movement of the enemy. It is supposed that the Rebels contemplate assuming the offensive, and their late operations indicate a movement by them into Maryland and Pennsylvania. Should they do so, we will probably go to meet them. We had the report that Vicksburg was taken, but later news proves it to have been a false report. The news today is quite cheering, although not as conclusive as I wish it was. I believe I did not tell you that we had moved our camp. We had just got nicely fixed up in a beautiful oak grove on the Fitzhugh Lee farm when the medical director ordered us to move out of the woods into an open field about a mile off. Well, we did so about a week ago, and found it one of the worst places for a camp that could be found in Virginia. But we went to work and after 6 days’ hard work of the whole regiment, have got it into pretty good shape.

     I rec’d yours of the 24th by today’s mail. You say the fruit trees are in bloom. Well, down

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in “Old Virginia” peaches are about the size of a hickory nut, and the fruit accordingly. Strawberries are ripe. The weather is very warm during the day & quite cool through the night. Have you rec’d a letter from me giving an account of our march etc. to Chancellorsville? You ask how many prisoners my company took. They took seven that they brought in beside three that they took and delivered to an officer of the 150th [Pennsylvania] Regt., and for which our regt. was not credited. I have not been troubled with diarhea much of late, enjoy very good health, much better than I expected to. The officers of the regt. are generally healthy. Lt. Fish has not been well for the past few days and applied today for leave of absence on acc of sickness. He asks for 30 days, and I think he will get it. I will try to get the photographs and send or bring them to you, will also send something from the Fitzhugh farm. I am getting quite and I may say very anxious to get home once more for a short time. think I could enjoy a clean pair of sheets by the side of my dear wife (have not had my pants off since I left Washington). Oh, I do want to see you all so much. I can’t tell you how much. I have no news to write. Write often and I will do the same. Kiss the boys & have them kiss you for me. Good night. 

                                    Yours in love,                                  


Alfred J. Sofield was a clerk/justice of the peace in Wellsboro, PA when he enrolled as a Union Army Officer. He served in the Civil War as Captain and commander of Company A of the 149th PA Volunteer Infantry. During the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, he was stationed along Chambersburg Pike north of the McPherson Farm. His unit under artillery fire from the Confederate batteries on Herr Ridge, and was struck by a round, which killed him as well as Private Edwin D. Dimmick and Corporal Nathan H. Wilcox.