Letter written by 1st Lieutenant Lewis Bodine of Company A, 149th PA Infantry “Bucktails,” to Helen Sofield, from a camp near Culpeper, VA. Bodine writes that he has procrastinated too long in writing to Mrs. Sofield. General Ulysses S. Grant is secretive about his plans, so the army is unsure of what will happen next. Bodine inquires about Mrs. Sofield’s planned trip to Gettysburg, as he would like to accompany her. He expresses his condolences on the death of Mrs. Sofield’s husband, Alfred Sofield, who was killed in action at Gettysburg.
Camp near Culpeper, Va
April 23d 1864
My Dear Friend
I have been allowing myself to procrastinate quite too long, but trust you will forgive me & I will do better hereafter. It is not because I do not love to hear from you, but only another of my lazy habits which I am sorry to say I abound in. We are having some very fine weather. The roads are becoming quite good & the army getting uneasy about what is to be done. But, thanks to General Grant, he does not let his plans become public, so that none of us can ever surmise what is to be done, but all wonder at our being
permitted to lie here so long, but patiently await the result. Fish still continues to float about Washington & I think will till he emerges into a citizenship [he received a disability discharge 4-24-1864], which he would like if not permitted to splash about the city. He is in reality a band-box ‘soger’ of the first cut, & I think should be carefully laid away in cotton or snugly packed in brand[y] or he will spoil. Col. Stone has sent up a recommend for his discharge, which I hope he will get, & very soon, as none wish to see him back. I had to laugh at the idea of Calkins being made A.A.G. He has quite all he can attend to where he is. You spoke of making a visit to Gettysburg this
summer or fall. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to be privileged to accompany you, & perhaps kind Providence will deem it proper for me to do so. If you put it off till fall, who knows? You speak of your deep sorrows. I wish I could shoulder a part of them, ‘tis best for every heart to know its own bitterness. But dear friend if I can aid you in any way let me ask you to name it & I will gladly do it. Do it not only for your sake, but for one who I learned to love & respect as a dear brother. Let me be a brother to you as I was to him, I will feel that I am honored. I am really
glad that you have placed confidence in me, & I hope never to betray it by words, deeds, or actions. I know now that you will not distrust me, & hope you will feel free to ask for any aid I may be able to render you. I have thought many times I would offer you assistance in your business, then thought I, she would not thank me for it, but I will now offer to do it & if you think best to accept of it no one shall know from me that you have had it. I suppose you have heard long ere this of Col. Dwight’s exit from the army, & what pleases me more, is that Major Irvin last night
received his commission as lt. col., & Capt. Glenn as major. You likely have seen the disposition which has been made of the 1st A[rmy] C[orps]. We are now 3d Brig. 4th Div, 5th Corps & wear a red badge instead of a blue. Stone commands brig, & Wadsworth the div, Warren the corps. I cannot think of more to interest you with, so will bid you a kind good night. Love to the boys, & write as soon as you receive this.
Believe, as ever your
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.