Joseph Rutherford to Son
I believe the last time I wrote to you I gave you a description of our time of
works and how the troops got their supplies by a R. Road &. I think I told
you how high the breast works were. There is one thing that makes the breast
work very strong – or rather inapproachable, that is the abbetten and trip wires. An abbetten is made of the tops, with the
limbs cut off about 4 feet long and then limbs are sharpened. Then are struck
into the ground with their points towards the enemy and are placed so thick that
a man cannot get through them. This is in a row paralell with the breast work.
The trip wires are placed in front of the abbetten. They are woven in among the
stumps brush & so thickly that a man cannot possibly get through them. The
guns of our batteries are so placed that they can sweep every inch of the ground
in front. If the enemy should attempt to take our works we could completely
destroy him while he was trying to get through the obstructions. Now this is
the whole length of our front. Our line extends to our left 5 miles further than it did when I was at home. This extention was made the Sunday before I left home and when I get here the next Sunday they had all the breast work finished in this way. Just think all this work done for 5 miles in so short a time, but you must remember that there are a greatmany men to do this work. It is a big job for all that. I told you we had a Rail Road along our lines, we have two now and they are busy all the time. Genl Grant has got the rails and ties ready to extend the rail road into Petersburg the moment he takes it, and you may be sure that he will take it. No body can do any thing now it is so very wet, hardly a day passes without rain.
There is a man to be shot in our Division to day for desertion and jumping
bounties. It is a solom thing to think of and I most wish there was some way
that he might live though he richly deserves his punishment But it seems such a
terrible thought to be knocked out of the world in such a manner
that one cannot help feeling that there might be some way that his fate could be everted. I shall not go to see the execution as I dislike such scenes very much.
Are you going to school this spring? When I was home, I got the impression that you did not like to go to school very much. How is it? am I mistaken? Now I want my little boy to like his school and learn all he can so he can make himself useful to himself and others. I shall want you to help me one of these days in my practice, how nice that will be, but you have got to know something so you can do your work well.
I have got your name on my pay rolls, and I am drawing pay for you. Now I want
you to do all you can for Mother, for in this way you will help me. Your Mother
will see that you do not have too much to do. I shall pay you 10$ a month as
long as I get a good report of you from your dear Mother, and you will get your
pay as often as I get mine. Your Mother will board you but your cloths must come
out of your wages. I tell you my
son it is pretty smart for a boy like you to get 10$ a month and board, for what little work your Mother will ask you to do. You must let Mother take care of your money, for this pay will stop when I go out of the service. If your sisters help you any of course you must be generous and share your wages with them in proportion.
I send in this letter 30$, 16 of which is yours, the wages you have earned since the 1st of Jany, up to the 1st of march. This you get as my servant, all the difference is you help Mother instead of me. I could have hired a boy out here but I thought you might just as well have the money as a stranger boy. Now you need not tell any body about this, just keep it to yourself. How are you getting along in learning to write? I shall expect to get a letter from you one of these days written by yourself. Remember me to your dear good Mother and your Sisters. When I write again I hope I shall feel better than I do now though I am much better than I have been.
Your affectionate FatherJ.C. Rutherford
That execution is past off till tomorrow (the 11th)