Artifact of the Month Collections Document of the Month Holidays

December 2017 Artifact of the Month | Christmas Letter


By Robert Hancock
Director of Collections & Senior Curator

Three days before Christmas in 1863, Nathaniel J. Cundiff, a soldier in the 10th Battalion, Virginia Heavy Artillery, took up pen and paper to write to his mother in Bedford County.

Punctuation has been added, but the original spelling has been retained.

December 22, 1863

Dear Mother:

            I take mi seat this morning to drop you a few lines to let you know that I am well and doing the best I can and I hope if theas lines should reach your hands they may find you and all the family well and doing well. Mother, I have drawed me a blanket [drawn ie: been issued] and am making very well. Times is very hard here, everything to eat is hie and scarce her[e]. We get very light rashens hardly a naugh to live on and I am afraid that times wil get wors in stid of beter as I don’t see any hops of Peace.

            It is now nearly Cristmas and I expect to spend a lonesome Cristmas. I expect to be on the Darby town road on guard at Christmass. I would be very glad to be at home to spend mi cristmas at home with you. But there isn’t any chance for me to come a tall. Mother, the most of the company is well. James Howell and James Morris are both well at this time.

            Mother, I don’t her of mutch fiting a going at present. Mother, you must write to me and give me all the news of the neighborhood. Write how all hour friends and relatives is geting on. Tell them all I would be glad to see them all.

            Mother, they have got Steven Witt in castle thunder [a jail located in Richmond]. He was on gard in Richmond and on his post some things was missplaced and they arested all the men that wer on that post tho he is clear of doing any thing that was rong about hit so he will get out clear shortly clear and safe. Mother, write how brother Calvin is geting on. I haven’t any news to write to you at this time. I will haf ter come to a close. You must write to me often. I remain your son untill death.

            From N.J. Cundiff to Mrs. Mary Cundiff

Nathaniel survived the war, was paroled at Appomattox, and lived to the age of 73. He died at the Soldiers’ Home in Richmond and is buried in Hollywood Cemetery.