As Gettysburgians began to prepare for the holiday season after an eventful and tragic year in 1863 - one of the members of Gettysburg's own Company K, 1st PA Reserves sat down near Manassas, Virginia to give his friends at home an idea of how he and his comrades would be spending the holidays.
December 29, 1863
Letter from Camp
Camp of Co. K, 1st REGT., P.R.V.C.
Dec. 16th, 1863
Dear Sentinel: -- For some time you and your many readers have been uninformed in regard to our many wanderings, our whereabouts, and our welfare generally. -- We are now situated along with Co. "H" of our Regiment, about a mile toward Bull Run, from Manassas. Headquarters of the Regiment, and six companies are at the Station, and the two remaining companies are stationed about a mile beyond at the Junction. Our duty is principally night duty, patroling the Railroad and keeping it clear of guerillas that infest this whole section of the country. Col. Harding of the 12th Regiment, (situated near Warrenton Junction,) was wounded a day or two since by a party of guerillas, and has since had his arm amputated. He is one of our most efficient Colonels, and for some time past has been in command of our 3d Brigade. The boys are taking the only true plan to rid us of these notorious murderers, viz: -- hanging them up to the first free when they catch them. Three or four of the outlaws were seen yesterday morning stretched to trees by the road side, near Bristoe Station. Of course no one is acquainted with the fact of their execution, and its just as well that nobody knows anything about it. The health of our company is excellent; with the exception of slight colds. Many of us took colds on our late trip across the Rapidan, during that bitter cold weather. We will ever remember the 30th of November, as one of the most trying days of our lives. From morning until night we paced a woods to keep from freezing, not being allowed to spark a fire for fear of drawing the fire of the enemy's batteries. We were moved from the centre to the right of our line about 3 o'clock in the morning for the purpose of charging the "Rebel" left wing, but they had so effectually dammed up "Mile Run" beside obstructing our passage by falling trees on the opposite bank, that the idea of crossing was abandoned, so all that was left for us to do was to put in the day quietly until night again favored us with a good chance of escape without injury. The "Johnny's" did favor us with a few shells during the day, but they did little or no damage. JACOB STAUFFER, who was one of the guards with our ammunition train, was captured "in the wilderness," by a squad of grey backs. This was all the loss our company sustained in the late move. We pity poor Jake in his present situation, for truly the condition of our prisoners in Richmond is deplorable. There has been much talk about our Division returning to the State during the Winter, but we scarcely expect it now. -- We are nicely fixed up in good winter quarters and almost wish they'd "leave us alone." Any of our friends wishing to find us, can take the cars at Alexandria for Manassas, most any hour in the day, and let me assure you they will receive a hearty welcome to the hospitalities of our camp. As the holiday season draws near we often wish ourselves at Home, to enjoy the festivities of that occasion and mingle once more with the loved ones around those old familiar firesides. But the almost universal response to any one wishing himself home, or a free man again, is "only 6 months more, boys, keep in good heart." We will hope though that 'ere 6 months roll their rounds "this cruel war will be over," and we and our Nation once more be free. Wishing our many friends in old Adams, "a merry Christmas, and a happy New Year," for this time I bid you adieu. N.N.N.