Tuesday, 1864 February 16, Stony Mountain, Virginia: “I have found out lately that I will not get out of service as soon as I expected”

[A Pennsylvania soldier stationed in Virginia writes to his mother]

Signal Station, Stony Mountain [Virginia]
Feb. 16th 1864
Dear Mother
I have received your
welcome letter of the 12th instant & also the
one before—this evening—as one of
the fellows was in camp today & got the
mail, & I hasten to reply as I have
time—and probably I will not have
so much leisure time for some
while to come. [Editor: The term “instant” is an adjective for ‘of the current month.’]
We reached here last Tuesday evening
& proceeded immediately to establish
a Station & have been busy
ever since building up our quarters,
stables & fixing up the Station,
besides station duty & guard duty
at night.
Saturday was the first day that we
were not busy working, we had a
quite a snow storm but today was

[page 2]
so mild that there is scarcely any
snow now to be seen.
As we have all the extra work done,
main duty now will be station
watch in the daytime & guard
duty at night.
This mountain is nothing more
than a large hill, it is about
six miles from Brandy Station in a
south easterly direction & a mile &
a half from the Rapidan [River].
We can plainly distinguish the Reb
pickets on the other side of the river
with the naked eye.
This station is what we call a
station of observation being on
the extreme outpost of our lines
nothing but cavalry pickets outside
of us, & it is our business to keep a
strict [watch] on the rebels, & report any little
change that we may see.
We live a great deal better than I

[page 3]
used to do in the regiment. We have
a chance to draw full amount of
rations, all the little ‘Extras,” & then
we have more cooking utensils for
we can get them hauled. Our party
(each station has one) have a wagon
& of course we make out to always have
a load, why when we were moved out
here from camp we got an extra
wagon & hauled all the material
that we had in our house except
the chimney.
In one [of] your letters you spoke about
the shirt which you sent me. I thought
that I had wrote that I had
received it all right, it was my
intention to have done so, but I
suppose forgot it.—It fits very well
& appears to wear equally as well.
I have found out lately that I
will not get out of service as soon
as I expected—not until the
26th of next July which will be

[page 4]
two months over my three years.
I was very foolish not to have thought
more about this when I had my
descriptive list made out. I could
as easy as not went out on June
4th as go out when I do.
I received a letter from Will Hammond [Sergeant William B. Hammond]
week before last he said the
regiment [30th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry] could be held until the
26th July.
I must close this hasty written
letter as it is time for me to go
on guard.
Give my love [to] Father, [Jennie?] Uncle &
Aunt & all inquiring friends &
I remain as ever your [affectionate]
Son
[signed] John E. Gillespie

[Editor: John Eves Gillespie (September 3, 1842-June 29, 1872) to his mother Eliza Jane Gillespie (1813-1878) [Mrs. Franklin Gillespie; Franklin Gillespie (1805-1877)] of New London, Chester County, Pennsylvania. This letter is accompanied by an envelope postmarked “February 20, Washington, D. C.” The 30th Pennsylvania Volunteers (Infantry) was organized at West Chester, Pennsylvania, in June 1861 as the 1st Regiment Reserves Infantry, later designated the 30th Pennsylvania, and mustered out in June 1864. John Gillespie was mustered in as a private in Company A, 30th Pennsylvania, June 1861, promoted to corporal on January 5, 1863, and transferred to the Army of the Potomac’s Signal Corps, November 3, 1863. After the war he attended the University of Pennsylvania Medical Department and became a doctor and U.S. Navy assistant surgeon. William B. Hammond enlisted in Company A, 30th Pennsylvania Infantry, June 1861, was promoted to sergeant, October 1861, and mustered out with his company in June 1864. According to one online source, Stony Mountain is in the Madison County, Virginia, section of Shenandoah National Park.]

MSS 15500, 15500-A

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