Letter written by Captain Alfred J. Sofield of Company A, 149th PA Volunteer Infantry “Bucktails,” to his wife, from the camp barracks. Sofield writes of how lonely he has felt since their separation. He has not slept in the camp since her visit ended, and instead shares a room with 2nd Lieutenant Lewis Bodine. Sofield mentions that Captain Thomas Bryden of Company G recently returned home, and that Lieutenant Colonel Dwight is in Stone Hospital. He remarks on the well-being of several other friends in camp before imploring his wife to visit him again. A short section at the end of the letter is addressed to Sofield’s son, Willie.
Nov. 23d 1862
My Dear Wife
It is Sunday and a lonely and uncomfortable day it is. I wander about from place to place, that is from tent to tent, and feel so lonely that I can hardly contain myself. I rec’d your second letter yesterday and you say you miss me more than you did before you was here. I am very glad of it as I think it will have a tendency to bring you back the sooner. I too miss you more than before because then I had just got used to camp life and now to go back from a tolerably good bed with you for a bedfellow is had to think of let alone doing it. I have not slept in camp since you left have took my meals there and slept with Lt. Bodine, but Lew is going to return to camp tomorrow and I have a mind to occupy one old room at the Porter house as I cannot think of sleeping in the tent a week or two, or until you come. If you was not coming I should fit up a bunk in the tent and make the best of it. I was expecting a letter from you today written after Mrs. Bryden got home, but was disappointed. I want you (if you have not already done so) to write immediately and let me know what you intend doing, that is how soon you can come. And I want you to be as expeditious as possible. If you lock up the house I think you might get ready in a very few days, as you need not stay there to
make more than one suit a piece for the boys. Buy the material and make it up after you get here. Mr. Butler came yesterday, found his son Marion much better will start for home tomorrow. Capt. Bryden [Co. G] left here for home on Friday evening, and if he was able to endure the jolts & jostle of the cars is no doubt home before this. I miss him very much, and hope he will soon be able to return. Mr. Mise & Mrs. Bailey arrived on Friday. I saw Mr. Mise, have not seen Mrs. Bailey. She is stopping with J. B. Potter. [Lt. Col.] Dwight is sick in Stone Hospital. I just left him. He is getting better will be out in a few days. Otis is well. Fish & Bodine [Co. A] are both still on the sick list, though Bodine thinks of reporting himself for duty tomorrow. Fish looks hard but is getting along slowly. I suppose Mr. Bayden told you his wife was here. My men in the hospital are all doing well. Several of them are walking about camp in pleasant weather. John Wilcox made us a call today. Jimmy English has left here. was sent to New York with other sick & wounded soldiers. I saw him just before he started and I wish you would see his father and tell him that his son is doing well and he was in the best of spirits; said he never felt better in his life.
Tell him also that Jimmy gave me forty dollars to keep for him or to use if I wanted it. I will send it to him (Richard) as soon as I get the balance of my pay. In conclusion will say that you must come right down for I am “alone, all alone,” & cannot stand it this way.
Dear Willie [oldest son] I was so glad when I read your letter that could not help crying. My dear son you don’t know how very much I do want to see you & Jimmy & Bennie. Be good boys and in a few days your Ma will bring you to see me. Kiss Ma Jimmy & Bennie for me. If I had more paper I would write you a longer letter. Good bye Willie.
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.