1864-07-21in front of Near Petersburg, Va
Camp 45th Regt Pa Vet Vols

in front of Petersburg, Va.

July 21st/64

Dear Parents

I have just perused your most welcome letter which arrived with this morning's mail. It is needless for me to say that it was a welcome messenger for your letters are always welcome. There is nothing so cheering as a good letter from home. If it were not for letters that I receive from home and kind friends I should get entirely discouraged and homesick and that would only make me miserable but as it is I look forward with pleasure to the day that is to bring me news from the loved ones at home.

Everything is going on as usual here. The Regt are out on picket and will be relieved tonight. Our ranks are gradually thinning. Yesterday there were three wounded on the line, two out of Co. G and one out of Co H. No advance has been made along our lines yet but how soon there will be I do not know. The drift must be nearly completed. The Johnies will stare when they behold the whole fort going up into the air. We are all expecting a bloody time then but how soon it will come off I do not know. The boys are all well or what is left of them. Tom, Absolem and Albert and myself are all that is left that went from Elk Run with us. The rest are all in the Hospital. You spoke of my dodging the dangers. I do not know how that is done unless one plays the skulker and that is almost as bad as desertion . I would prefer death to either. I think there is a little danger in standing at your post as anywhere. I have found so far that those men that always kept their places escaped more than those that were always trying to get shelter behind some tree or knoll. It is a higher power than man's that protects us in battle. If not, we should all have been killed long before this. We have been where the leaden hale fell thick where not a tree or bush but showed the marks of more than one ball and yet men could pass through such places in the hottest of fire and not a ball touch them. If man was the only agency I doubt if such could be the case, but if we fall our friends will have the consolation that we fell nobly defending our Country's rights.

Oh how I wish I could be home to help do the haying. I think we could get along then and I should enjoy it so well to be home at work again but I think that time not far distant when this matter of war will take a change. About presidential election there will be a change for better or worse and I hope for the better. If I could not get the grass cut I would turn the cattle into the South lot meadow and feed what I could not get taken care of. I am glad you will get those bonds for the $100 will help a good deal. If we could get pay, I could send $150 home now. If you can hire a hand by paying two dollars per day you best do it than waste the crop. I will send the money to pay for the labor as soon as we get payed off. You must not work so hard yourself, but I must stop writing for the present and wash my clothes. I will finish this after dinner. I have done my washing and it is not yet noon, so I thought I might as well finish this letter now. All I have to do is eat and drink, read and write. We do not go out on the picket line. My weight is 143 lb. some of the time heavier. I think if I was home where I could get plenty of good rich food I would draw nearly 160 but we get good army rations and the Sanitary furnish us with vegetables part of the time so that we live very well. I do not think the editor of the Rural sends that paper or else there would once in awhile one come through. Those papers Mother sent me did not come through so there is no use trying to send papers to me any more but it is a mistery why I cannot get papers when others get them regular all the time. There is something wrong somewhere but where it is I cannot tell. I do not know that I have any thing more to write that will interest you. Hih Tubbs was killed here on the 17th of June. I did not know it untill some time after, not seeing any of the Regt.

I have written in several letters before this for stamps but I presume you have not rec'd it yet. My sheet is full and I must close hoping to hear from you soon. My respects to all enquiring friends. Write me all the news of interest and how you get along with your work. From your ever Affectionate Son

J.D. Strait