Letter of Lieutenant Joseph G. Younger of Company F, 53rd VA Infantry (Armistead’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division), to his cousin. Younger writes that his brothers are well, but he has been ill. He remarks on how hardened soldiers have become to suffering, observing that they hardly care if someone dies as long as it is not a relative. Younger inquires on whether his cousin has found him a “sweetheart.” Younger describes shelling at Petersburg, VA. He hopes the war will soon end. He thinks the Confederacy should conscript African Americans to fight for them like the Union has.
Cousin August the 18th 1864,
Your long looked for letter has come at last. It has been duly perused it finds Marion & Nathan well but I am quite sick and have been for some time. I do not think I shall be able to finish this epistle on account of my head swimming so bad it seems to me the paper is turning round all the time. Cousin it is so bad to be away off here sick, where no Femenine hand is to feel of ones fevered pulse. nor any kind and affectionate sister, mother, relative or friend to watch one as he lays and suffers upon the ground, soldiers have become used to so many suffering that they have no sympathy for one that is sick, so long as they can keep will if one die it makes no difference with them so the
unfortunate one is no relation of theirs if one gets killed in battle it is the same case. This indeed is a hard time. People are bound to become better or I think they will be cut off and perish all over the land. I think it has rained all over the state by this time we have had quite a nice shower since I have been writing and it looks like coming down down again shortly. So you have not picked me out any particular young Ladie for a sweet heart you say that there are several nice young Ladies in that neighborhood but you will wait and let me come and pick for myself. Cousin I think I should be pleased, at any choice you would make for I am shure your fancie and taste would be perfect You speak of Miss Emma Womack as being a nice young Ladie I should
Judge so for I have heard a good deal of talk about her but Mr W or Mr Younger is too far ahead for any of us to talk about her. Marion though seems satisfied about it so I must be too as I am not acquainted with her he says she is one of his best friends and he is certain she will let him know when she is going to get married. There were terrible terrible shelling at Petersburg this morning before day I have not as yet heard the cause of it. We will have hot time here soon I think, a good deal of sickness are getting among our soldiers I am in hopes the war will end soon I have thought it would end this winter but I do not know how it will end nor when I know this much it cannot end too soon for us I think it had as well end this winter as
to go on next spring for it will never end by fighting no-how, We have to fight negroes now driven up to us by the white yankeys our men fought them at Petersburg & also on the other side of the river a day or so ago our boys allways slay them when they get a chance at them but it is a shame for our good young white men to be killed by a yankey negro, I think if they fight negroes against us we ought to conscript some of our to meet them I reckon our negroes would fight as well as theirs. I must close as I am getting so weak I cannot sit up write soon I remain Your affectionate Cousin
J G Younger
Joseph G. Younger enlisted as a private on July 10, 1861 at Union Church, VA in Company F of the 53rd VA Infantry. He was promoted corporal August 14, 1861; sergeant December 15, 1861; but was reduced to private on May 5, 1862. He was hospitalized August 18, 1862 at Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, VA with diarrhea, then marked as ‘absent’ and sick at home in September of 1862. He was present December 15, 1862, then hospitalized again on February 28, 1863 at Lynchburg, VA. Present once more April 15, 1863. He was appointed 2nd lieutenant on April 4, 1863, but on November 12, 1864 he requested a transfer to the artillery “due to a lack of respect shown him by the men of his company.” Younger was duly transferred into the Halifax VA Light Artillery Battery on December 15, 1864. He survived the war, and later lived in Mississippi County, AR until his death April 13, 1916. His brothers Francis Marion, and Nathan, served at least through the end of 1864, both being issued clothing at Fairfax, VA on December 31, 1864. However, no further military documents could be found for all.
The 53rd VA Infantry was one of the most prominent of Virginia regiments, serving from December 1, 1861 until April 9, 1865. As a part of Armistead’s Brigade, Pickett’s Division, it was among the foremost in the famous “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg, led by Brigadier General Lewis A. Armistead over the stone wall at the Angle during the height of the assault on July 3, 1863. Here the regiment lost 34 killed, 140 wounded, and 150 prisoners or missing, total of 314. It is believed all three Younger brothers were present and survived this ordeal.