An Object Lesson

“I now sit down with a heart of sadness…”
The David Long letters.

By: Andrew R. Miller, Park Ranger

The latest donation to the National Prisoner of War Museum collections is a set of 26 letters written during the Civil War by Private David T. B. Long to his family, primarily to his parents Jacob and Barbara Long, of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.

David Long enlisted on October 15, 1861 and was mustered into service as a private in Company I, 101st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The regiment participated in early battles of the Peninsula campaign in 1862 before being transferred to the North Carolina coast.

David Long’s letters are filled with observations of life, people, his environment, and his opinions. David’s service was frequently interrupted by prolonged sickness. Writing from the Pennsylvania State Lunatic Hospital, David wanted to let his family know he was sick, but he remained hopeful. “I have been under the care of the doctor for some time now but have been out for some time, but I think that I will be able to go to camp in a few days.” David hoped he would be spared to come home and be with his family once again. “Mother and Father, brothers and sisters, if God spares my life health and strength to get home once more then I will live and die with you.”

David Long reenlisted in Plymouth, North Carolina, as a veteran volunteer, in January 1864, for three more years of service. While he was stationed in North Carolina, David wrote extensively about his experiences. David’s final letter in the collection is dated in March 1864.

One month later, Private Long’s regiment was part of the Federal garrison stationed at Plymouth that was captured in April 1864. Since David was an enlisted man, he was sent to Camp Sumter. The large group of prisoners arrived at the very end of April and beginning of May 1864 to Camp Sumter prison camp. Dubbed the “Plymouth Pilgrims,” due to their new uniforms, these men fell victim to the infamous “raiders” who deprived these men of their basic essentials for survival. Many of Plymouth Pilgrims died from a variety of maladies at Andersonville including David Long who succumbed to disease on July 30, 1864. His remains were brought to the cemetery where he lays today.