Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Mary Angeline BURNS Gorham 1844 -1916
Copyright © David V. Kester, 2001
Letters sent to Mary BURNS Gorham
Township: Burlington Township, Bradford County PA
Transcribed  by David Kester
Year: 1857-1869
Photo Source : David Kester

Burlington, Oct 5/64

Dear Mary-

I have been waiting to rec- a letter from P.P.(1) before writing you, But none comes, since you were here, for me. Horace has had one letter from him since. I have heard from him though, several times, by way of the other boys in the Co-[company] They were all well and encamped near Dutch Gap-(2) before they commenced fighting at Richmond.(3) We have heard that Co. B. was sent to Bermuda Hundred(4) as Guards or Pickets or something, I don’t know what hardly- They are in the Eighteenth Corps, we don’t know what Division.

When we first heard that James was drafted(5) we thought that you would probably come up soon, But I suppose he won’t have to go to Troy(6) to be examined. You must write very soon if you don’t come. Your mother(7) feels very anxious to hear from you.

Philander was not drafted, to bad isn’t it. I was in hopes he would be under the circumstances(8). Joseph Morley(9), Oscar Ayers(10) and Henry Kendall(11) were drafted. I can’t give you a list of them all, you will see it in the paper.

Jane(12) is here today helping mother color black- Floretta(13) has got an Organ, so she can afford to spin, I think- Sara Campbell(14) has a piano- Anna Ayers has a fine boy(15) they say, I have not seen it yet- Her mother(15) has fixed and fixed for them till she is getting discouraged-

Bill Kendall(16) has been here on a furlough some days past but started today to go to Ripley(17). He intends to come back here again before his thirty days are up. Granville(18) had to go back without seeing Janie(19) at last. He is coming back to work in a steam mill in West Burlington next Winter.

Debbie(20) is waiting to take this to the P.O. & it is already late. Write soon-

Affectionately, Lucy Burns(21)


(1) Philander Perry Burns, Mary’s older brother who was married to the writer, Lucy E. Morley, sixteen months prior to this letter.

(2) Site of Dutch Gap Canal, an artificial cutoff of a meander on the James River, eleven miles south, southeast of Richmond.

(3) Company B of the 207th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.

(4) A major port for the disembarkation of federal troop transports. When Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard halted Major General Benjamin Butler’s advance on Richmond at Drewry’s Bluff, on May 16, 1864, the federals withdrew to Bermuda Hundred and the Confederates formed a line facing them. On May 20, Confederate forces under Beauregard attacked Butler’s Bermuda Hundred line near Ware Bottom Church. About 10,000 troops were involved in this action. After driving back Butler’s advanced pickets, the Confederates constructed the Howlett Line, effectively bottling up the Federals at Bermuda Hundred. Grant reported that his general was "in a bottle strongly corked."

(5) There had been erroneous rumors of Mary’s Husband James J. Gorham having been drafted for over a year (see letter #60 of September 25, 1863).

(6) A town 12 miles west of Burlington. Situated on the Elmira (N.Y.) to Williamsport railroad, it was a regional induction center for the army.

(7) Letitia Campbell Burns b. 28 Apr 1807, d. 28 Mar 1879, widow of Orry Burns, b. 4 Feb 1798, d. 29 Sep 1861. Orry and Letitia were m. 13 Dec 1827.

(8) Philander, like many others had tired of wondering when he would be drafted and taken off to war without a moment’s notice. He enlisted for one year on 1 Sep 1864 and was discharged 31 May 1865.

(9) Joseph F. Morley, age 28, was Lucy’s brother, but apparently she didn’t know that he had enlisted, twice (see letter #70 of September 8, 1864).

(10) Oscar Ayers

(11) Henry Kendall, b. 18 Apr 1842, d. 1923

(12) Artemitia "Jane" Burns Kendall, age 35, Mary’s oldest sister, w/o Lawrence W. Kendall of Kendall Hill, Burlington Township.

(13) Julia "Floretta" Kendall age 13, eldest child of Lawrence and Jane and lifelong "best friend" of her Aunt Mary BURNS Gorham.

(14) Sara Ellen Campbell, age 21, Mary’s cousin on her mother’s side.

(15) Anna Morley Ayers, w/o O.F. Ayers (m. 23 Dec 1862) and Lucy’s younger sister.

(16) William Kendall, b. 17 Oct 1830, s/o Elam and Deborah KNAPP Kendall served 3½ years in the army and actually enlisted two years before this letter along with his brother Gerome (see letter #41 of October 5, 1862).

(17) He married Lucy Burgess 7 Nov 1865 at Westfield, Chataqua Co., N.Y.

According to a 1915 newspaper story on the occasion of his 85th birthday they were married "near Ripley on a pretty farm on the banks of Lake Erie at the home of the bride’s parents"

(18) Granville A. Burns, b. 16 Sep 1839, Mary’s first Cousin from Clifford Township, Susquehanna County who had spent the winter of 1862/63 lumbering in Cameron Co. Pa. With Philander Burns (see letter #46 of Jan. 4, 1863)

(19) Sara Jane Kendall had been Granville’s sweetheart since they met at Mary’s mother’s home two years earlier. But He married Mary Mercy Lyon in January 1865 and she married Frank Beardsley in 1867.

(20) Debbie O. Kendall, age 13, d/o Robert Kendall and Sara Ann Burns, Mary’s other sister.

(21) Lucy E. MORLEY Burns, b. 11 Feb 1839, d. 4 Mar 1891, d/o Jacob and Harriet KNAPP Morley of Luther’s Mills, Burlington Township.


Verginia November 12th 1864

At the front On the South side of the James For the defense

of Bermuda Hundred.—(22)

Dear Brother & Sister—

I now seat myself in my little Shabong for the purpose of holding a conversation with you by the way of pen, ink and paper. Our Shabong is made of pine poles about 10 foot long & wide and 5 footes high, covered with canvass tent cloth. We have a nice little chimney in it. So it makes very comfortable quarters for Soldiers when we are in camp. But we are put through prety well now days doing picket duty(23). We are out every other day.—They have got prety ny [nigh] half of our Regt detailed for one thing or another. There is 38 men out of our company. We are in a Provisional Brigade so they can do just about what they are a mind to with us, send us to any place they see fit. I woul not be mad if they would send us back to Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia or some of those places, But suppose that will not be our luck.

Wall what about elections up there? I think old Abriam [Abraham] is all rite down here. I was one of the judges on the board of election for our company. We gave 65 votes for Lincon & 15 for little Mc(24). Our Regt gave 239 majority for Lincon. The 211[th] gave 288 majority for Lincon. There was a Newhampsher Regt that had only 228 voters in it and 200 of them voted for Lincon. Bill Right(25) was over here the next day after election, from Petersburg(26). He said they had 200 voters in his Regt and 195 of them voted for Abe, so I think Little Mc will come out of the little end of the horn just as he always has done.

We had prety sharp cannonading here yesterday, for an hower or two The Johnes [Johnnies] opened from the Howlet House on one of our Battryes clost by the side of the James. They tosted [tossed] three or four shels slap dab rite into our Battryes. The first one that came over struck rite in quite a clump of men. It lade there 4 or 5 seconds before it bursted. I suppose there was quite a skedadling amounghts them about that time. Lucky for them that it did not burst when it struck. If it had, probly it would have killed 4 or 5 of them. I was about tenn roods [rods](27) off down under a steep bank by a little spring doing my washing. There was a piece of the shell, when it burst, came just over the top of the bank and struck within about a rood [16.5 ft.] of me, it went into the ground about 2 feet. It was rather a wet place whare it struck I tell you, it did whis [whiz] though when it was coming, it made me open both eyes and rase one ear I tell you.

The boys that went from the creek(28) to York State and enlisted has been in a fight and some of them wounded. Seth Gustin(29) was wounded in the face, Moris Wilcox(30) in the rite arm. So you see, they did not make much by going to York State and getting the big bounty. They was put into old Regt #___ you spoke in your letter about.

Mary’s being such a grate hand for writing letters that she had yoused up all of your paper. I hope you have got a good supply on hand now and that she will still continue to yous it up in writing letters and send a good number of them down this way and Oblige.

P. P. Burns of the 207th Regt, Pa Vols, Co B.


(22) Bermuda Hundred, a city on the James River in Tidewater Virginia (see letter #72).

(23) Soldiers placed in an advanced position, much as pickets on a fence, who’s duty is to warn of approaching enemy units.

(24) Whether General George McClellan sought the 1864 Democratic nomination as revenge for having been relieved of his command by Lincoln or was just pursuing his political ambitions is unclear. He was a popular figure to the war weary nation and many thought he could win, but Union victories during the campaign proved that the tide was turning and threw a considerable quantity of cold water on his "stop the war" campaign. The Union soldier’s disdain for his failure as a commander is indicated by the adjective "little" used in conjunction with his name. Although the popular vote was close, Lincoln won in the electoral college by a landslide, 212 to 21.

(25) Sergeant William S. Wright of CO E, 141st Pa. Vols. was also from Burlington Township (see letters #51 & #57).

(26) Petersburg, a city 22 miles south of Richmond which was besieged from June 1864 until April 1865 in Grant’s attempt to take Richmond by way of its southern approaches.

(27) A unit of linear measurement which was widely used in the 18th & 19th centuries. 1 rod = 16.5 feet or 5.5 yards.

(28) The Gustins and Wilcoxes lived on the south side of Sugar Creek in Burlington Township opposite Luther’s Mills. This area must have been commonly referred to by this nickname relevant to its proximity to said body of water.

(29) Seth Gustin of CO C, 188th N.Y. Vols. must have received a superficial face wound from which he quickly recovered for he remained on active duty until 1 Jul 1865.

(30) Morris Wilcox also of CO C, 188th had more serious wounds to his right arm as he was discharged 29 May 1865 on account of wounds received 27 Oct 1864.


Monday, December 5th 1864

In camp near Hancock Station(31) in the rear of fort Hell and in front of Petersburgh

Dear Mother & the rest all-so. As I have a few leisure moments this morning I thought I would spend them in writing a few lines to you. I received two letters this morning, one from Rob. Kendall & the other from [James] Gorham, the folks was all well in Burlington. I received a letter from Lucy yesterday. They wer all well I believe. I got my box last Friday. Every thing was all rite, the boots was a compleat fit & the provender(32), that was a compleat fit to, now I tell you, for we was pinched pretty clost for ration. Eck Lane(33) got a box the same day that I did So we had a good Thanksgiven supper, I tell you, and that was all the Thanksgiven that we got to. The papers made a great blow about the Thanksgiven dinner, but we did not see anything of it. But I tell you what we did see, we saw Old John Browns Knapp Sack(34) strapped upon our backs and marched all day long Thanksgiven day and the next day to, we left the Army of the James on the 24 of Nov. and was ordered to report to the Army of the Potomac, to General Mead’s head quarters which was reported to be 18 miles. We were then sent to the extreme left, but did not stay there but a few days. The Ninth Corps was there and we was put into that and that was sent down here where we are now. It releaved the Second Corps, but I think that this is rather the worst place that they could put us though. We have not done picket duty yet since we have been here. Nor I don’t want to do any either as long as I stay in this place, for they keep continual fireing all night long out on the picket line. The picket line is over a mile from the camp, but the Johnes has cast two or three bullets into it since we have been here, but none of them done any hurt. The most damage that they do is with shells. The first day that the corps moved down here they killed a Colonel and a Major with a shell. There has been two men killed on the picket line since we came here.

We have not been here but 5 days and we had no quarters so we have been to work building shabongs. We have pretty good quarters built now if they will only leave us in them. But that is uncertain business in this country. We don’t know whether we will stay here this winter or not. They kept us so busy doing picket duty when we was down on the James that we did not get any time to drill much. So I expect that they calculate to drill us some now. I hope so or els move us away from here for I don’t think that they could put us in a worse place than this for doing picket duty. We hear of some one every day that gets killed or wounded on the picket line. This was always called the worst place to do picket duty on the whole line, right here in front of Petersburgh. We have some pretty sharp carronading(35) here most every day, but then we have got so youst to the sound of a cannon that we don’t mind any more about it than the noise of a wagon.- We lay with in two or three roods [rods] of the rail rode that is Gen. Grant’s Rail Rode. They have been moving troops up by here by the car loads for a day or two. The reason is that the 6 Corps from the Shanandoa Valley has been sent here. I think that they will do something on the left before long. I have no more room so will close.

Philander Burns

[written in margins] Mother I would of wrote to you before but I though when I wrote to Lucy that you could hear from me so it would do just as well as if I wrote to you seperately.

P.P. Burns

Tell Mary that I would like to have her write a few lines. I don’t think it would hurt her.


Tell Mary and Gorham that they must write, for this is for all hands.


(31) A station on the U.S. Army Railroad named for Major General Winfield S.Hancock, whose recent successful diversions (Deep Bottom I & II) north of the James had enabled the Army of the Potomac to extend their Petersburg siege line farther to the west, eventually cutting that city’s southern supply route via the Weldon and Petersburg Railroad. The US Army R.R. connected with City Point on the James southern bank via the City Point R.R. funneling men and supplies to Grants troops throughout the ten-month siege. City Point was called the busiest place in the country during this period.

(32) Provisions (from the French-provendre)

(33) Alexander Lane 2nd, a cousin also from Burlington (see letter #71)

(34) Probably a slang term for a soldier’s full pack

(35) Carronade-originally a short naval cannon made on the Carron River in northern Scotland that was used for close-in fire. Later the term carronading came to mean harassing fire from short-range cannons fired in high arcs over the enemy’s lines. In modern military parlance, defilade fire.


Burlington Decthe 27th [1864]

Dear Uncle & Aunt I am over to Uncle Horaces(36) tonight but there wasent any body that thought last night that I would have an Uncle Horace by Morning. Even the Dr. thought he would not live till Morning, but he has Revived up now & the Dr. has some hopes of him. Granma(37) says she does not Know whether you can leave home or not, but we shall write Again in A few Days and let you know how he is. Aunt Ruth(38) and Uncle H. was both sick that Sunday that you talked of Comeing out. When Granma come she found them both Sick. Aunt Ruth is so she is up [and] Around now, but Uncle Horace can not sit up at all.

Christmas was not A very merry one with us, Uncle Horace was suffering every thing that any one could suffer and live. There was one spell that we thought he was gone entirely and so did the Dr. until he put his hand on his heart and found some motion there & then he went to rubbing him and he soon Revived up again.

Uncle Horace got a letter from P.P. [Burns] Just before he had his bad spell. Granma wants me to write some of it to you. He says the day before he had heavy marching orders Dec 9th Just About Dark, so they Packed up everything "and was marched about 3 qtrs of a Mile, halted, Ordered to Stack Arms and make ourselves as comfortable as posable. Well to Pass off the night Pleasently it had to set in And Rain & hail Tremendiously all night, one of the worst storms that could Posably have come there. We had to stand all night long and take the cold North Easter as it beat Tremendiously Down upon our heads. There was some men that laid down and put their Blankets over them & the rain and hail 2 or 3 inches deep and Frose so hard that we had to help them up in the morning. There was one man in the 209th that was found dead in the morning. We staid there till noon. There was two men hung right in sight of there so I went and saw them. They were deserters from the 179th NY Vol. Sheridan(39) Captured them in the [Shenandoah] Valley fighting For the Rebs. We then Marched to camp, but did not have time to put our tents up before we was ordered to Pack up, then came the Brig of war. We marched 20 Miles and back from Just About Dark untill the next night About 2 Oclock. The mud when we started was 4 or 5 inches deep and some places we had to wade streams Almost over my boot tops. I tell you, it was rather tough, Especialy for those that had to ware Uncle Sams shoes. My feet got so soar that I could not hardly step. T.S. Knapp(40), D.W. Lane(41) and myself fell out about two or three miles before the Regt Stoped for the night, We staid in A Johneys Barn. We Catched the Regt the next morning that same day. About 5 Oclock we started back for camp. We got back about 2 Oclock at night. It turned around and was awful windy & cold. We burnt up 30 or 40 miles of railroad." P.P…

Well I have Written all of any Importance so I will close by Bidding you good by



Dear Cousen(44) I will have to speak A few Words to you by way of Pen and Ink. How do you like it down there. Where did you go Christmas and what did you get in your sock. It seems somewhat lonesome here without you, there is nobody to run to when I want to tell anything. I was down to Uncle Josephs(45) Yesterday and seen Sarahs(46) piano [and] heard her play on it & I had all the butternuts that I could eat. I did not get a thing in my sock, but I went to town. D.O.K.



(36) Horace Orry Burns, Mary’s 31 year-old brother.

(37) Letitia CAMPBELL Burns, age 54 who was widowed in September 1861.

(38) Lydia "Ruth" KENDALL Burns, age 28, wife of Horace.

(39) Major General Philip Henry Sheridan who had recently returned from his highly successful Shenandoah Valley campaign.

(40) Sergeant Tracy S. Knapp, age 28 of Luther’s Mills, who had enlisted in the 141st Pa. Vols. on 25 August 1862 and was discharged with a surgeon’s certificate 27 February 1863. He reenlisted in CO B of the 207th 27 August 1864 where he was promoted from First Sergeant to Second Lieutenant and was discharged 31 May 1865.

(41) Corporal Daniel Webster Lane, age 21 of Burlington Township who had enlisted in CO H of the 177th Pa. Vols. 9 November 1862 and was discharged 7 August 1863. He renlisted as a Corporal in CO B of the 207th 30 August 1864 and served until the war’s end, also being discharged 31 May 1865.

(42) Debbie O. Kendall, age 13, d/o Robert and Sara Ann BURNS Kendall.

(43) Mary Angeline BURNS Gorham.

(44) Debbie is writing a note to her cousin Floretta Kendall, age 14, who was visiting Mary and James Gorham in LeRaysville.

(45) Josephus Campbell, age 46, Mary’s mother’s brother and Debbie’s granduncle.

(46) Sarah Ellen Campbell, age 21, d/o Josephus and Asenath Campbell.

(47) Julia "Floretta" Kendall, age 14, d/o Lawrence W. and Jane BURNS Kendall.


Camp 207 In front of Petersburg V.A.

Feb 20th 1865

Dear Sister & Bro.

Once more I take my pen in hand for the purpose of writing a few lines. It has been a long time since I have heard from you. I wrote a letter to Mother when she was there. It was rather though to all of you. But never have heard anything from it yet, so I conclude that it never has got through. I wrote to Sarah ann(48) yesterday. Have not had any letter from Lucy(49) in three week, But suppose she has something els to busy her mind about now a days. I had a letter though from Jacob Morley(50) a few days ago. [He] reported every thing all rite up there. T.S. Knapp got a letter from home this morning from his mother(51). She toled him to tell P.P. that his two Girls wer getting along finely. So I guess they will write before long. I expect you are having an old fashion winter up there according to all accounts, plenty of cold weather and lots of snow. I would like to be up there just long enough to have a sotiable sleigh ride on your splendid sleighing, But then wishes don’t make horses, if it did some poor beggars might ride(52). But then, trusting to Providence, I hope that a year from this time that I may be there to enjoy the blessing of a good sleighride, providing we are favored with 18 or twenty inches of snow as you are this winter.

Well we are having pretty easy times this winter. So far we have not had any picketing to do since we came to this camp, which was the first of December. We have had to drill though, But then we did not find any fault with that, for we had rather do that than stand out all night on picket. Besides the drilling might do us some good, providing we should come in contack with the Johnes which I have no doubt but what we will before we get out of this. Though we have had extrodinary good luck since we came down here. Better to be born lucky than rich.

Two weeks ago last Sunday they marched us up on the left. We left camp about 4 P.M., marched about 15 miles, got there about 9 P.M. at night. We expected then to try our Bravado, but were ordered to stack arms & build Breastworks wich the men went at in good earnest I tell you. In less than an hower & 40 minnits we had a breastwork sufficient to stop any musket ball that the rebs might send at us. And if they had ever come up in front of our works as we expected they would charge on them, We would sent little mesengers of distruction amongst them instead of mesengers of peace as we had been hearing so much about just a few days before we went up there. They would found out that the two hundred & seventh was sent down here to make peace, not F.P. Blair(53), and they would find out to that we carried different documents than F.P. did. And I think the more they get of those documents I speak of, the quicker we will have peace.(54)

Well we staid there 3 or 4 days waiting for them, but lucky for them they did not come, so we marched back to our old camp which was very agreeable to us. We hear glorious news from Sherman(55) every day. Think he is teaching them Seacesh(56) some good lessons and if he keeps on will soon rid the State of them.---

Just a come off from dress parade. By a tellagraph dispach that was sent to us and read on dress parade [was thus] The Richmond Centinals & deserters Acknowledge the fall of Columbia(57) and the evacuation of Charleston(58). This is later than anything that we have got in the papers. With this good news I will close by asking you to write soon and remember me as your Brother.

Philander P. Burns


(48) Sara Ann BURNS Kendall, age 34, Philander’s sister.

(49) Lucy E. MORLEY Burns, age 25, Philander’s wife of nineteen months, who was in her 9th month of pregnancy

(50) Lucy’s father. Age 59.

(51) Diadema Knapp, age 52, w/o Charles Knapp.

(52) A variation on the old saw, "If wishes were fishes we’d have some, fried And if horse manure was gingerbread we’d eat ‘til we died."

(53) General Francis Preston Blair, a journalist and long time Democratic politician who helped form the Republican Party in the 1850’s in an effort to stem the expansion of slavery even though he himself was a slave owner. He was an influential adviser in Lincoln’s administration as well as a brave and resourceful commander under Major General William T. Sherman. In February 1865 Blair, with the consent of President Lincoln, conducted an unofficial and unsuccessful mission in an attempt to negotiate peace with Jefferson Davis at a secret conference in Hampton Roads, Va. After the war Blair supported President Andrew Johnson’s Reconstruction measures, but opposed the so-called "Radical" Republicans and rejoined the Democratic Party.

(54) While vitriolic animosity toward the enemy is common among soldiers on the battlefield, some of Philander’s may stem from fact that the "Rebs" killed his younger brother Jimmie at Vicksburg the previous year.

(55) Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign (May–September 1864) has been called the most brillant in American history. Coming as it did in the middle of the nation’s most critical election, it provided a victory that the Lincoln administration could toss into the teeth of the Democrats who were basing their presidential campaign on the assertion that the war was a failure. Sherman kept delivering this type of good news right to the end of the war. NOTE: No other U.S. President would face reelection during time of war until Roosevelt did 80 years later.

(56) Slang for secessionists.

(57) Once Sherman had completed his famous march "from Atlanta to the sea" and captured Fort McAllister south of Savannah, Confederate Generals were certain he would set his sights on either Augusta or Charleston and prepared to defend both of those cities and put an end to this marauder. But Sherman outsmarted them and stealthily moved his armies over a hundred miles right between them and entered Columbia on the morning of February 17th 1865. Controversy still exists over the origin of the fire which nearly destroyed this capital city, but Sherman, who ordered his men to put out the fires had said, "the whole army is burning with an insatiable desire to wreak vengeance upon South Carolina. I almost tremble for her fate…"

(58) Later that same day the news of the fall of Columbia reached Charleston, the cradle of the Confederacy, which Confederate General Joe Johnston had said must be held at all costs. It was ordered evacuated and fell into Northern hands for the first time since the surrender of Fort Sumter. Johnston, who had been waiting in Columbia for his Generals to join him after the expected defeat of Sherman, cried, "There has not been such an army since Julius Ceasar! We are lost!."


In Camp 207 in front of Petersburg, Va.

March 17th 1865

Dear Sister & Bro--.

Your kind epistle dated March 2nd & 3rd came to hand day before yesterday. Was very glad indeed to hear that you were all well. It found me enjoying very good health indeed. Having a few leisure moments today, I thought I would spend them in writing to you.

Well, in the first place the Army of the Potomac is about to move. The Spring Campaign is about to open & the ninth Army Corps is hard to work building breastworks, working from daylight to dark. It is reported that the fifth, sixth and second Corps is going to strike out for someplace, perhaps to form a junction with Sherman or Sheridan. We are building a new breastworks from Ft Davison(59) across to our rear works so when the enemy leaves the left we can hold from here to City Point(60). I expect the whole army on the left will pull out for some place or other before long if they have not already. The ninth Corps will be left to hold the works that they now occupy. We are building pretty strong works across from our front to our rear, expecting the ground from here to Hatcher’s Run(61) will fall into the hands of the Rebs after our army leaves up there, that is if the Johnes try very hard to get it. Of course we will leave a few men along the lines to hold them unless they pitch on in force. We still hear good news from Sherman & Sheridan & if the weather will hold good a week or two I think you will hear from the Army of the Potomac.

Well I suppose you are losing some of our good sleighing before this time, but then suppose youre glad to see it go. We have not had two inches of snow here in all winter. Peape todes holering all over down here now a days, been at it a week or so.

I saw Chaple Hill the other Day & Seth Umphry(62). They look just as naturale as ever, especialy Hill. He wares an old wide brim white hat & the same white hair & whiskers. He has been to our shanty twice. Ecky Lane(63) toled me that Chapple toled that his father had a dowry fall to him worth four millions of dollars. Chapple will be on his high heeled boots when he gets home. Says his father wrote to him to come home for he had more money than he knows what to do with. Well the old saying is fools for luck and poor folks for babys & I guess it is so(64).

O, Mary I must close. I have got to go after some wood. I have written one letter [to] Lucy to day & I am getting tiard of writing. So good Bye. Write soon-- from your Brother

P.P. Burns


(59) Literally dozens of "forts" dotted the many miles of breastworks. Most were little more than redoubts, which were more heavily defended and built up to provide higher vantage point than the works themselves. Fort Davison was near the western end of the secondary breastworks (outside the seige line and outside the army railroad) five miles due south of Petersburg. The works were actually continued a mile or so further west to Fort Dushane.

(60) Grant’s primary supply base on the James River, a distance of eight miles north-northeast of Petersburg.

(61) Hatcher’s Run, is as mall stream lying seven miles southwest of Petersburg

(62) Seth Humphrey, s/o Dudley Case and Almena GORHAM (Mary’s husband J.J.’s aunt) Humphrey was from LeRaysville in Pike Township on the eastern edge of Bradford County, Pa. Seth and his brother Crittendon were in the midst of a family squabble regarding his father’s choice for a second wife which was related by James J. Gorham in an August 28, 1862 letter to his new wife Mary (see letter #35).

(63) Alexander Lane 2nd a neighbor and cousin of Philander from Burlington Township (see letter #71, et al).

(64) Except that four million dollars is a highly unlikely sum for a dowry or anything else in that day and age. Furthermore, a daughter from a family that fabulously rich would not likely be marrying a middle-aged farmer with grown children.


Burlington [Wednesday], Marchthe 22nd[1865]

Dear Aunt

I now seat myself to let you know that we are all well at present and hope these few lines will find you the same. We promised you that we would write and let you know how Uncle Horace was. Well, I am glad to tell you that he is a great deal better. They came over to granpas last Sunday a foot(65). The baby grows like sixty, they have named him Lodell(66). Lucy has not named her baby yet(67). Frank(68) was up here last night, she said it growed like a pig, it was just as fat as she could be. I have not seen her very lately. We have not had a letter from Philander very lately, but grandma [Burns] see Dalmond Watkins(69) today and he said he saw him last Thursday, that he was well and that they was going to march. The Railroads & Roads are all tore up so that they cannot run at all so no mail comes.

Byington(70) and Orville Crandall(71) was here a week. They started A week ago yesterday to go to the Allaghany(72) to work and then down the River. Pa went with them. Mr. C had a banjo with him he is a good Player & Singer. He Played and sung together it sounded Pretty. He sung a good many songs, one was the Belmoral & the song of all songs & gone to the arms of Abraham. I learnt those three. By said that Granville was married to Mary Lyons(73). She was A school teacher & Rich too. He has made his Fortune. I suppose our school has Commenced last Monday. Maria Sweeny is teaching. She is going to teach six months Right Along, we will learn A good Deal. She is A good Teacher only [except] on one occasion and that is going home after [to get] Tea every noon.

There has been the awfulest Flood on the Susquehanna(74) the other end of the Bridge is all taken away so they will have to build a new Piece of Bridge. The school is took out to. Lemira Ward(75) said she see A great large White house go over the Dam and they found A nice Span of horses hitched to A Sleigh in the River drowned. There was lots of houses taken off. It came up to the court house door latch, it was an awful flood.

Sally(76) has lost her baby Henrietta. She was Buried Yesterday. The Funeral [was] over to our school house. She died with the Inflamation on the lungs(77). She was one month older than Jimmie(78). Henry will feel awful bad when he hears of it(79). Mrs. Hall’s baby has got the same complaint, it was worse this morning. They think that it will not get well, it grows worse all the time. Henry thought so much of Henrietta when he went Away she was sick & he said he never expected to see her again, sure Enough, he never will. Ann Ayers(80) baby has been very sick so they though it would not live, but it did get well. Ann was almost scart to death About it, they think so much of it.

Andrew Melville(81) has got home an exchanged Prisoner. He was Starved Almost to death. His Father took him off from the horse and carried him into the house. He was so poor that he could not walk. Dennis Croley(82) & Burt Gustin(83) has got home. Dennis is home on A furlow, Burt has got his discharge. Landis Travis(84) & George Wheel Started home but was sick and had to stop on the way.

Granma is Carding, Ma is spinning, Orry(85) is Gabbing, the cat running around & the dog A barking and there is so much music That I am charmed so that I can not write. I have got it mixed up so that I don’t know as you can read it so as to take any sense, but if you can not, read what you can and let the rest go and I will tell you when I see you, if I ever do. My love to all. Tell Hattie to look for a letter From me in the course of A year. I should like to see her verry much.

Granma said she did not know as she should get time to go down there, but if she does I shall go with her. d o Kendall


Mary A. Gorham… Deborah O. Kendall

Good night


(65) Horace and Ruth KENDALL Burns had been living at the Burns homestead with his mother Letitia and his brother Philander’s wife Lucy since Philander had enlisted in the army six months earlier. Writer Debbie Kendall’s granpa Elam Kendall lived up Kendall Hill Road about a half mile from the Burns’.

(66) Horace and Ruth’s first born, Lovett died in September,1863 of diphtheria at the age of five (see letter #62). The new baby boy was probably given a similar name in loving memory of their dearly departed son.

(67) She was probably waiting for Philander to write back after she had written to him of the birth, but the baby was eventually named Hattie.

(68) Frances Morley, age 13, was Lucy’s younger sister (see letter #69).

(69) Sergeant Dealmond Watkins family lived on a neighboring farm.

(70) Byington Burns, s/o Jonathan Burns II of Susquehanna County, Debbie’s second cousin (see letters #44 and #46).

(71) Orville Crandall, s/o Cyrill & Sally Ann BURNS Crandall, gs/o Ziba S. Burns. He was also Debbie’s second cousin.

(72) The Allegheny River whose headwaters are in Potter County, Pa. Sixty-six miles west of Burlington, from whence it flows south, joining the Monongahela to form the Ohio at Pittsburgh.

(73) Granville Alonzo Burns, age 25, brother of Byington married Mary Mercy Lyon 16 January 1865 (see letter #72).

(74) According to Heverly’s Bradford County Chronology the highest water, twenty-eight feet, ever known in the Susquehanna occurred on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1865. The river flowed through the Bradford county seat of Towanda, ten miles east of Burlington. It is likely that the bridge there was the only one in Bradford County which spanned this mighty river in 1865.

(75) Almira Ward, age 21, d/o Harvey and E. Ward of Burlington Township.

(76) Sarah Ellen HALL Kendall, w/o Henry. Their daughter Henrietta was born in the first week of January, 1864 (see letter #64).

(77) James W. Kendall, s/o Lawrence W. and Jane BURNS Kendall, b. 7 Feb 1864 (see letter #69).

(78) Inflamation on the lung: In the last century, cause of death often was listed as inflammation of a body organ such as, brain or lung but this was purely a descriptive term and is not helpful in identifying the actual underlying disease.

(79) Henry Kendall was drafted in September, 1864 (see letter#72).

(80) Anna MORLEY Ayers, sister of Philander’s wife Lucy MORLEY Burns (see letter #72).

(81) Sergeant Andrew Melville enlisted in CO. F, 52nd Reg’t. Pa. Vol. Infantry 24 Oct 1861. He was captured July 1864 and held prisoner at Andersonville, Ga., Florence Ga. and finally Richmond, Va. Where he was exchanged, returned home and was subsequently discharged 12 July 1865.

(82) Dennis Crowley mustered in a New York Reg’t. 10 Oct 18674 and was officially discharged 1 July 1865 (see letter #60).

(83) First Lieutenant Burton K. Gustin also of CO. F, 52nd Reg’t. Pa. Vols. was discharged 27 Jan 1865.

(84) Landis Travis, one of Burlington Township’s earliest enlistees mustered in CO. B, 34th PA Reg’t. 8 Aug 1861. He transferred to CO. C of the 191st 6 June 1864, was captured and held prisoner from 19 Aug 1864 to 1 Mar 1865. He received a discharge on General Orders 9 June 1865. He was a grandson of Jeremiah Travis and Sally Lane and was therefore related by marriage to the Burns/Campbell/Kendall families.

(85) Orry Burns Kendall, age 11, Debbie’s younger brother.


Burlington Aprthe6th 1865

My Dear Aunt,

As I am not able to go to school to day I will employ the time in writing A few lines to you. My disease is a very bad cold, which knocks the school matter all in [the] head with me. All of our children have been sick with colds but James and he is the tough one. It has kept me busy in doctoring about a week back.

Sally has been sick ever since her baby died. We heard that the Doctor said that it was the first stage of Consumption. Perhaps you may not know who I mean, it is Sally Kendall, Hanks wife(86). Dock Campbell’s little boy is just alive, don’t think he will live through the day. Debbie has just come from there she says Ruth is most crazy. It was about a year ago that they lost their other little boy named Georgie and they named this one Georgie after the other and now they have got to past [two passed] with this, it is about ten months old. Suppose they think everything of it. And Dock being drafted besides makes her feel worse. He is at home now and says he shall stay at home until it gets better or worse(87).

Uncle Horace and family are well. Aunt Jennie(88) came from there yesterday, she had been helping them Paper their house. Uncle Horace was here last Sunday. He looked a great deal better than he has in a great while before.

Aunt Sara Ann(89), Aunt Elvira(90) & Grandma were here. Grandma came from Uncle Jakes(91) Sunday, she went up to hear from Uncle Philander. We are glad to say that he came out of the battle(92) all right & further more all the boys from this place except Orien Campbell and he was shot through the forehead by carelessness(93). He stuck his head up over the breast works when they were shooting to see what was going on. The Rebs attacked our men when they were asleep and killed a good many before they were roused. It seems like the hand of Providence helped them, for it was not but a few moments before they were all surrounded. They took two thousand Reble prisoners. The Rebs put up a flag of truce to go and get the dead and our men helped them carry off about two hundred killed, so I guess they did not make much that time. Mary I will tell you what [unit] Philander belongs to so if you should see any sketches in the paper you will know if he is among them. It is the 207 Regt, 9th Corps, Second Brigade, Third Division. Granma though perhaps that you did not know exactly and told me to tell you.

Mary I wish I could mark Jimmie’s face down on this piece of paper, I guess it would scare you. He has had a dish of berries sitting on the floor, picking them up with his thumb and finger and then licking out the dish.

Granma has got your piece in and is weaving, but how much she has wove I do not know. She has been down sick, almost, with a cold. She isent hardly able to work, but thinks she must for she is in such a hurry to go to keeping house. She wants to go by the first of May if she can get ready. She has got her carpet yarn spun and doubled and we have been helping her twirl it. I suppose she wants to get her house carpeted and cleaned, all ready for Lucy so she wont have anything to do but sit and hold her baby. It is better to be born lucky than rich. It is going to be a hard job to clean the house for it is covered with dust all over, door latch stove and flat irons, but we are going to help her or she would have to do it alone. I must close for I can hardly see now and must study some today. I hate to stay out of school one moment. We have a good school, but if Floretta was our teacher for the next six months to come, I would consider myself quite a scholar.

Mary you must write and make Uncle help you. He has written to Debbie twice and not to me at all and I am just as good as she is. Debbie happened to be here Sunday when her letter came and we had quite a laugh over poor me but tell poor me to never mind when he wants to see babies come up this way. I guess I will stop my nonsense.

From Floretta Kendall to Uncle and Aunt Mary Gorham.


(86) "Sally" (Sarah Ellen HALL) married "Hank" (Henry Kendall) 13 December 1863 (see previous letter, #78. Consumption was the term then given to tuberculosis.

(87) The first George W. Campbell, s/o A.B. and Ruth Campbell d. 26 April 1864 aged 2 years, 4 months and 9 days and is buried in Luther’s Mills Cemetery. As there is no record of a second George Campbell interred in that or any other Burlington cemetery it is quite possible that he survived this illness.

(88) Sara Jane Kendall who was only six years older than Floretta was called "Janie" by the older generations and "Jennie" by the young folks.

(89) Sara Ann BURNS Kendall, Mary’s sister and w/o Robert D. Kendall.

(90) Elvira LANE Kendall, w/o Daniel D. Kendall.

(91) Jacob Morley. Father of Lucy E. MORLEY Burns, Philander’s wife.

(92) This was the Third Battle for Petersburg. With the Confederate defeat at Five Forks on April 1, Grant and Meade ordered a general assault against the Petersburg lines by II, IX, VI and XXIV Corps on April 2, 1865. A heroic defense of Fort Gregg by a handful of Confederates prevented Union troops from entering the city that night. At about 4:30 A.M., IX Corps under General John G. Parke, assaulted the Confederate lines near Fort Mahone. After a six-hour see-saw fight, the Federals established a lodgement, but were unable to enlarge it. At 4:40 A.M. VI Corps, commanded by General Horation G. Wright attacked the Confederate main Line covering the Boydton Plank Road, and quickly achieved a major breakthrough. Confederate Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill was killed trying to reach his troops in the confusion and the entire Rebel line southwest of Petersburg was rendered untenable. At 9 A.M., II Corps led by General A.A. Humphreys, successfully advanced against the Confederate line along Hatcher’s Run. One division (under Miles) was detailed to pursue the remnants of the Confederate defenders, while the rest of the Union troops closed in on Petersburg from the west. Starting at about 1 P.M., elements of Harris’ Mississippi brigade desperately defended Forts Gregg and Whitworth, two detached batteries covering the western approaches to Petersburg. At about 4 P.M., Miles defeated Heth’s remnants (under John R. Cooke) at Sutherland Station on the Southside Railroad, driving the Confederates westward, away from Lee’s main body. At nightfall Lee ordered the evacuation of Petersburg and Richmond. The ten-month siege was over, the pursuit had begun. Grant had achieved one of the major military objectives of the war: the capture of Petersburg, which led to the fall of Richmond, the Capitol of the Confederacy.

(93) Private Orrin Campbell, CO A, 207th Pa Vol. Infantry was killed 2 Apr 1865 at Petersburg and was buried in the National Cemetery, City Point, section C, division 2, grave 91.