ÒEarnt by a jack knife and a whittling YankeeÓ


Camp near Potomac Creek VA

Wednesday, March 4, 1863


[letterhead of eagle with shield, red, white, and blue, print slightly off]


Dear Wife,


I am happy to let you know that these few lines will find me well again and on duty and may it please God that it may find you all at home enjoying the same blessing.  This morning I have sent that great pipe home to you hoping it will reach you all right.  It has been the work of my own hands and the pastime of many lonely hours of my soldierÕs life, and I think I have wiled them away advantioustly [sic].  There has been a great many made in this Regt., but all agree that mine is the best one that has been seen yet.  I donÕt know but what I am foolish for not selling it for I have been offered 9 and 10 dollars for it time and time again.  But I wanted you should see it.  It has all been worked with nothing but a large jack knife.  I can make a dozen more and sell them any time I have a mind to, to the Officers of this Regt.  But I live in hopes of coming home some day and using that pipe yet myself, if they will only settle this foolish war. 


I will send you 75 cents in this letter, Dear Clara, which has been earnt by a jack knife and a whittling Yankee, and that is what they call me so sometimes down here because I am a whittling something all the time.  The stem of that pipe is the bushes of laurel root and the bowl is the root itself.  I sent it by the Sergeant Major Mr. Wright.  He is going home on furlough.  I wish as soon as you get it you will write and let me know because I am anxious to know if you got it.  Everybody was after it and I wouldnÕt be surprised if you never received it.


There is not much news here at present.  All and everybody are anxious for peace and they donÕt care how quick it comes or in what shape.  It rains almost every other day or snows and it is pretty cold.  Dear Clara, if you have not sent them gloves yet, donÕt send them for I have got a good pair.  There was a box sent to our Company from Camden.  Mine came first rate for my old ones was all worn out. 


I wish you to keep up your courage, hoping that we shall soon see each other again.  Especially take care of your health, for if I hear that you or the little ones are sick I canÕt get it out of my head for a number of days.


And now I must close hoping that the giver of all good is watching over you and my blessed little lambs.  Dearest Clara, kiss them often for me and tell them of their Pa who is far away and would gladly come home and kiss them if he could.  But God wills it not yet, and now hoping to hear from you soon, I remain, your companion you [sic] fond and loving until Death,

Peter L Dumont



I will write soon again.  Tom is well and on duty.  Ed [Burbiege] has got a box and he is living high off of it.  He tents with him.]