"The dead continue to live by way of the resurrection we give them in telling their stories” -Stories of Real Human Beings Make History Powerful, Photographs Make it Immediate."
Timothy H. O’Sullivan, Pennsylvania Light Artillery, Battery B, Petersburg, Virginia (1864)
As the weather turned colder and the prospects of further campaigning began to diminish for the year, life on the Petersburg front took on a different rhythm.
"Dull, duller, dullest; nothing can exceed the monotony of camp-life," complained a New York soldier. "We read, we look after the duties of our office; we walk, we ride, we gaze at the sky, the stars, the sun, the moon; yet we are compelled to return to the same surroundings, camps, arms, intrenchments, and lines of defense." As the season changed from fall to winter, sniping along the front seemed to die down. A Rhode Island man observed that it was not unusual for the pickets on both sides to amuse themselves "conversing across the lines, singing songs of the war, … and doing a little trading when unobserved by their superior officers."
"The winter of 1864-65 was one of unusual severity, making the picket duty in front of the intrenchments very severe," a Federal officer recollected.
A soldier in a North Carolina regiment later summed up his unit’s term at Petersburg this way: “It lived in the ground, walked in wet ditches, ate its cold rations in ditches, slept in dirt-covered pits.”
Albumen silver print from glass negative, included in ‘Photography and the American Civil War’, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2013, courtesy: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1933