Danville Historical Society Receives Civil War Soldier Letters

Danville, VA - An amazing gift for the Danville Historical Society is giving the area a new window into history.

The group now has in its possession a series of letters written by a Danville Civil War soldier during his time on the front.

Time has certainly left a mark on some of the letters, but together, they tell a story.
The Danville Historical Society recently received, transcribed, and preserved 37 pieces of history.
A man in Michigan, Clinner Mitchell, donated the letters. They date back to 1862, and chronicle his great-grandparents' time apart while his great-grandfather Pittsylvania-county-native Private Joseph Payne fought in the Civil War.
"It just gives you this slice of life from a couple who were not prominent, but really tells the story of the life of the common soldier," said Sarah Latham, President of Danville Historical Society.
The letters describe everything from Private Payne's fear of the unknown, to the difficulties of being so far away.
"It speaks for any soldier, in any war, anywhere in the world because they must feel that same way," said Latham.
The letters end in 1863, a week before Payne was shot and later died. Letters that his great grandson knew needed to be preserved.
"We were thrilled that the Mitchells took such good care of these and let them come back home," said Latham.
The Historical Society hopes to one day open a museum and display these letters. Until then, they are trying to have them on display at local museums.
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