From Jerome to Allie, March 6, 1863

Dublin Core


From Jerome to Allie, March 6, 1863


Peirce, Jerome
Newport News, VA.


From Jerome to Allie


Jerome Peirce


Jerome Peirce Collection, National Park Service


HIST 428 (Spring 2020), University of Mary Washington




NPS, Civil War Study Group, Jack Phend (Transcriber)


For educational purposes with no commercial use. Courtesy of National Park Service, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP, FRSP 16095-16102 (FRSP-00904).


5.05 X 8.17
9.96 X 8.17
5.05 X 8.17






Letter #80


Newport News VA.

Text Item Type Metadata


Newport News Va., 6th Mch [March] 1863
My ever dear wife,
We were excused from forenoon drill today, it being too cold and windy, and have been improving some time writing to Mr. Ballou, and now I will devote a portion to you.
Yours of March 1st, Sunday, was duly received yesterday and I read its contents with great interest and feel how little I can add to what you said, but I am full aware that to express yourself freely on paper does not make a complete or sincere Christian or friend, and I trust you will not think me inclined to draw any comparisons between your letters and others. You have a claim and a place in my heart which is all your own, and while it comforts and sustains me to know you discover any means to cheer your spirit and lighten your heart, I trust you will endeavor to maintain a cheerful faith. Do not sink into anything morbid, but as you say, humbly “cast your burden at His feet” and you will bear up. I remember the passage you mention. “Men likened to a count, etc.” It is beautiful and so truthful, too! One thing is to be allowed for here. I have and do read. I trust in a becoming spirit the Scriptures, but how often I wish, as I attempt to speak on paper, that I could sit by your side and chat and commune together on these sacred things together, for the continual din of the camp is constantly distracting the mind to a degree not realized by those at home.
You speak of Will’s letters frequent[ly] and long. I had one from Frank yesterday. They it seems have just commenced drilling. Perhaps I’m mistaken but I hardly think they have had as much to take all their time as we have, and I have not the faculty of writing so much when life is so monotonous. At present we can scarcely find time to do our common duties. So much to do. Everything to keep so nice: guns, equipment and if you have any ambition, everything, even buttons, must be constantly in good order. So I cannot write much more than I do. Does Will write to as many as I do? And I try to send you letters to make up for my poor affairs. Could you see all, I think you would wonder we write as much.
I was surprised to hear such news from Aunt W. It only confirms that we of the liberal faith believe, you know, but it is indeed dreadful trying, and I trust may change for the better. Surely these times should bring about a charitable harmony among those of every faith, for every household has its vacant chairs and how much alike are the experiences of families. But think when the Conscription Act goes into force!
Allie, while I cling like an anchor, and it is indeed an anchor which keeps me from drifting into indifference or despair, to the endearing memories of home. I am becoming daily more resolved and firm in my sense of duty to stand firm and accept my lot as a soldier of the best country that God ever blessed man with. What of good I can win or deserve, I shall possess, if possible, and I feel firm in the faith that all will issue well, and the end will be peace, and a peace worth contending and living for. And I find much here to be thankful for and for continued health more than all. Here will soon be a still larger class to feel the keen pangs of separation from home and dear ones. And each must help each other by all means by good courage and firm reliance on “Him who doeth all things well.”
So our little Lulu has been visiting school. She was a good girl to keep so quiet. And one of the days will be a scholar, too. How time passes! Six months we’ve been in the Army and what of the next six months? I trust ’twill be crowned with fruits of success ready for gathering. And if the whole people will once rise to the occasion, this war will soon close. Who can doubt it?
Have not heard lately directly from Foster’s. I take it Alonzo is very slowly recovering, but have little hope of his return to the Army for a long time, if ever. But his spirit was good and I trust it, with the body, may fully recover.
Am glad Mr. S. is to establish a Bible class and trust will be fruitful in good works and uniting the people. Don’t you think these times have been instrumental in turning the minds of people to religious thought? I see in papers I receive that these trials are bringing the American people to a sense of dependence upon the Great Giver more than ever and this feature alone has much that is encouraging in it.
Jos. H. is writing and will add something for you. I think I forgot to mention that Everett Peirce has been or is quite ill with the lung fever, but I hope soon to hear of his recovery.
It is dinner hour and will close by and by. Did you receive the mosses from Ben E.? Tell me when the box reaches you. Direct to Newport News via Fortress Monroe in future.
A little later. I hear we shall soon be on drill and I must close and add a word to Lettie E. (J. H. is writing her.)
I have written with ink, not such as I would like to, but it [is] the hardest time to write letters we have ever had and you must forgive much and believe more, and know that my thoughts are always with you. Dreamed of you all and home last night but cannot recall it sufficiently to mind to relate it. Lost half of my ink by the overturning of the ink stand, a tent accident.
Give Lulu a good kiss for Papie and reclaim [it] for yourself. I should hardly know what to say or do in “presence of wife and baby”, but trust to learn again sometime. I send more leaves.
Love to all. Received the papers and tooth brush. Tell me if the wristers reach you safely and the paper. Thank Mary for her note. Hope all are well and happy.
Love abundantly, from yours ever,

NOTE 1: Rev. Levi Ballou gave the sermon at the funeral service sermon held for Jerome, on Sunday, June 19, 1864, in the church in Orange, Massachusetts, where Jerome had been the “Sabbath School Superintendent.” Rev. Ballou made reference to several letters that Abbie had shared with him. One of those letters was probably this one.
The following is an excerpt from that sermon.
“Again, he writes his companion [his wife, Albinia or Allie], only 12 days before he fell, and after describing the place where he then was, as reminding him much of certain localities where they had in former days conversed and strolled together. He adds that by the movements of the army, “It looks like a fearful future for some.” He asks, “Shall we be spared the last fearful conflict?” “We hope all will be for the best.” He then speaks of his darling child to whom he sends some flowers which he had culled for her to keep to remember Papa and in closing says, ‘I hope to see you again soon.’”
This collection of letters also includes two letters sent by friends of Jerome and Allie to Rev. Ballou in early June of 1864 that were read at the funeral service.
Rev. Ballou’s sermon was obtained with the help of the current minister at the First Congregational Parish Church in Orange from the Rare Books Department of the Hesburgh Library of the University of Notre Dane, Notre Dame, Indiana, which has all of Rev. Ballou’s papers.

NOTE 2: Foster was an older brother of Jerome. He was born in 1812.

NOTE 3: The “Alonzo” Jerome referred to in his letters was Seth Alonzo Ranlett. Ranlett enlisted in Co. B of the 36th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment as a Private on July 24, 1862, at age 22, and he was from Charlestown, Massachusetts. He was promoted to First Sergeant on August 27, 1862, and was commissioned as a First Lieutenant on December 1, 1862. On December 17, 1862, he was appointed Adjutant of the Regiment. He was mustered out “on account of physical disability from disease incurred in the service” on February 20, 1864. Ranlett was born on March 18, 1840, in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and he died May 21, 1905, in Newton, Massachusetts. Ranlett’s wife was Ellen Peirce Ranlett, with a date of birth of March 22, 1842, and a date of death of January 12, 1914. They were married on January 21, 1864. Ellen Peirce was one of the children of Foster Peirce and his wife Catherine Abby Beaman. Also, Foster Peirce was a brother of Jerome. Therefore, the Ellen that Jerome mentions in some of his letters was one of Jerome’s nieces, and starting on January 21, 1864, Alonzo was the husband of one of his nieces.

NOTE 4: The “Jos. H” or “J. H.” that Jerome referred to in this letter was Joseph H. Peirce. He enlisted as a Private in Orange, Mass., on August 4, 1862, at age 18. Jerome also enlisted in Orange on the same date, but as a corporal. Jerome was 31 years old at the time. According to the Unit History, Joseph H. Peirce was taken Prisoner of War at Pegram Farm, Virginia, on September 30, 1864, (See Letter No. 227) and he was later exchanged. He was discharged on June 21, 1865. Joseph H. Peirce was the son of Joseph Peirce, one of Jerome’s brothers, and was, therefore, Jerome’s nephew.

NOTE 5: According to several medical dictionaries, “lung fever” is an archaic, non-specific term meaning “pyrexia (fever) arising in a background of pulmonary inflammation” and could include what is now known as pneumonia.

NOTE 6: In his reference to “leaves” he is referring to having sent leaves and/or flowers to Lulu that he had picked at various times where he was stationed. Seven of these mementos have survived and were included in envelopes that are in this collection.

NOTE 7: “Wristers” are a warm, knitted coverings for the wrist.

Original Format





Jerome Peirce 1863, From Jerome to Allie, March 6, 1863, HIST 428 (Spring 2020), University of Mary Washington


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