This letter was written by Peter M. Klingensmith (1834-1890) who enlisted at Pittsburgh as a private of Co. I, 2nd Pennsylvania Heavy Artillery on 31 March 1864. He remained in the Battery until January 1866. It appears that during the summer of 1863, with the threat of invasion of Lee’s Army, Peter also served two months in Co. A, 58th Pennsylvania Infantry.
Peter was the son of Eli Klingensmith (1811-1884) and Mary Smith of Kelly’s Station, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania. He was married to Mary Bell Rimmel (1843-1904) in June 1866.
Peter wrote this letter from Fort Slocum and refers to General Early’s raid on Washington D. C. in mid-July 1864. He indicates that he was thrown in with other men from other states to man the city defenses against additional threats. He was not with his regiment which had been ordered out of the city’s defenses to participate, not as artillerists, but as infantrymen in Grant’s Overland Campaign shortly after his enlistment. Most likely Peter became ill when he joined the regiment and was hospitalized at the time they left Washington.
Peter wrote the letter to James A. Beatty (1812-1879), a merchant in Kelly Station, Armstrong county, Pennsylvania.
Addressed to Mr. James Beatty, Kelly’s Station P. O., Armstrong County, Penna.
August 3rd 1864
It is with due respect that I now sit down to let you know that I am still living and middling. Well I have done some hard marching since I heard from you since we was all taken out of the hospital and formed into a regiment. There is men out of every state in this regiment. There was a battle here about two weeks ago and we are expecting one here everyday. We was up all last night standing by the cannons. The pickets was drove in at Fort Reno about 2 miles from here but we have not saw any rebels today.
I do not think this war will ever be settled by fighting. We have lost more men this summer than any person knows of. I was talking to rebel prisoners. They say they cannot whip us and we cannot whip them. They say they can kill all the men we can send there and we can kill all the men they can send here. Our soldiers are all very much discouraged. I know they do not fight near as well as they used to do. There was four men dropped dead out of this regiment on last Sunday. It was so hot and they marched us too hard. A soldier has not much chance for his life these times.
I wrote to you for some money from Chestnut Hill Hospital. I had to go away before I got any. Answer if you answered. It will be sent to my regiment but I do not know when I will get to it. Please answer this soon and let me know if the people is all well. I am anxious to hear [ ] again. Please let me know what the people think about the war. I wish you [would] send me a couple of dollars to buy tobacco and paper and stamps. Direct to Peter M. Klingensmith, Fort Slocum, Washington D. C.
Please answer soon. Please let me know whether Mary Robison is at our place yet or not. I send my good wishes to all. Peter M. Klingensmith