October 06, 2016 12:00 PM EDT Cincinnati

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1st Sergeant G.W. Hall, 6th US Infantry, 1846 ALS to Secretary of War Marcy, Describing Beating of Soldier

Hall, G.W. 1st sergeant, Co. E, 6th US Infantry. ALS, 3pp, 7.75 x 9.5 in. Van Buren, Arkansas, August 9, 1846. Addressed to Hon. W.L. Marcy (1756-1857), Secretary of War under James K. Polk (1845-1849). Hall asks for reinstatement in the army. He stood up for a Private P. Corcoran, who was given 77 lashes on his bare back with a raw hide while tied to a post. The sergeant also lists character references including General Taylor, Colonel Garland, Colonel Stephen Watts Kearney, Colonel Riley, all famous western officers who forts were named after. Hall wrote to Marcy that, The charge against the man was that another soldier had accused the said Corcran of taking his musket from the arms rack during the previous night and using it and returning it to the rack but there was not the least shade of proof that he had taken or used the musket. He continued to record other prior instances of violence perpetrated by the same officer, Lt. Ernest, including a flogging performed with a switch and a clubbing incident that so injured a man that he could not serve for five months. 

A very interesting letter concerning politics and harsh treatment. 


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Civil War Sixth Plate Ambrotype of Soldier, Possibly Confederate

Early Civil War, sixth-plate ambrotype of a soldier in what appears to be a black kepi & jacket, found by consignor with grey-coated Confederates in Lynchburg, Virginia. The image is housed in a full (probably pre-war) leather daguerreotype case that is separated at the spine.

The style of the soldier's kepi, the darker-than-blue color of his uniform, and the fact that this is an ambrotype rather than a tintype all indicate that he served in an early-war unit of the Confederate Army. It is possible he wears the uniform of a pre-war militia company from the Lynchburg or Bedford County area of Virginia, that became part of a CSA unit. The soldier is otherwise unidentified. The tablecloth has a distinctive design and invites further research.

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Group of Four U.S. Military Prints, Including Examples by H.A. Ogden

Lot of 4, featuring 3 first generation prints featuring the artwork of Henry A. Ogden, each copyrighted 1885 by Brig. Genl. S.B. Holabird, Qr. Master Gen'l U.S.A., and lithographed by G.H. Buek & Co., N.Y., including the following titles:

1821 XV 1832 Regimental Officers * Engineer * Cadet [1816-1821]. With B.M. Whitlock, Publisher, 99 Fourth Ave. N.Y. also noted below print. 15 x 17.5 in. (including margins). Colors are rich, vibrant, with some wear along perimeter of print, especially at corners, edges, slight loss to top left, bottom left, and bottom right corners. 

1841 XIX 1851 Voltiger * Infantry * Dragoon * Artillery [Campaign Uniform]. 15 x 17 in. Colors rich and vibrant, with water stain along top right edge of print that extends partially into top right corner of scene. Toning along left and right edges. 

1851 XX 1858 Major General * Staff & Line Officers. 14.75 x 17 in. Colors rich and vibrant, light water stain along top left edge, that extends partially into top left corner of scene. Light corner wear, with slight loss at top left corner. 

Accompanied by hand-colored print, 8.5 x 12 in. (sight), matted and sealed by the government, 15 x 20 in. overall. With typeset text on the reverse, which reads:

The Army and Navy of the United States / Infantry and General Officers, 1813 - 1821/ Copyrighted 1892 by G.B.

The actual artist's name is likely beneath the mat. An attractive hand-colored print, colors rich. Wear to mat, with fold, partial separation at top right corner of mat, some slight loss at each corner. 



Patriotic Ninth Plate Images, Including Tintypes and of Young Civil War Soldiers, Plus

Lot of 3, including ninth plate tintype of young, unidentified soldier, housed in half case; ninth plate tintype that appears to be a soldier, with 3 cent revenue stamp affixed to back of plate, housed in full case; plus ninth plate ambrotype showing civilian posed in studio setting with flag flying on painted backdrop, housed in full case. 

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Civil War Tintypes of Soldiers with their Horses, Lot of 2

2 CDV sized tintypes of Union soldiers either standing with or riding on their horses. 

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CSA General Thomas Stonewall Jackson CDV by Tanner & Van Ness

Popular carte de visite of the famed Confederate general identified in period ink below portrait as Gen. Stonewall Jackson taken two weeks before his death-, with Tanner & Van Ness, Lynchburg, VA imprint and two cent revenue stamp on verso.

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CDV Tentatively Identified as CSA General Louis T. Wigfall

CDV of man wearing mustache and long beard, seated in a studio setting smoking a pipe, with J.A. Scholten, St. Louis, MO backmark and 3 cent internal revenue stamp on verso. The consignor relates that the CDV was found in a Confederate Arkansas family photo album, which included views of soldiers, and the image was identified inside the album as "Gen. Wigfall." A photocopy of the album identification is included with the lot. However, this identification cannot be confirmed. 

Louis Trezevant Wigfall (1816-1874) was an American politician from Texas who served as a member of the Texas Legislature, United States Senate, and Confederate Senate. Wigfall was among a group of leading secessionists known as Fire-Eaters, advocating the preservation and expansion of an aristocratic agricultural society based on slave labor. He briefly served as a Confederate Brigadier General of the Texas Brigade at the start of the Civil War before taking his seat in the Confederate Senate.

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CDVs of Children, Featuring Children of the Battle Field, Plus Portrait by Southern Photographer G.S. Cook

Group of 6 CDVs of young children, including a CDV of a copy of a daguerreotype showing the children of Sgt. Humiston, 154th NY Inf., which was taken off his body at Gettysburg by J. Francis Bourns. The carte is titled, "Children on the Battlefield." Profits from the sale of the CDV supported children's orphan care. Stamped on the reverse by Wenderoth, Taylor, and Brown.

Also included is a portrait of a young girl in a plain dress, stamped on the reverse by Southern photographer George S. Cook, Charleston, SC. 

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Civil War Hand-Colored CDV of Colonel James Barnett, 1st Ohio Light Artillery

CDV providing a full-standing view of Colonel James Barnett, expertly hand colored. With A. Albert's Gallery, Cleveland, OH backmark. 

Colonel James Barnett was a part of the Cleveland Light Artillery. Governor Dennison commissioned him to raise a regiment of light artillery, and made him colonel on September 3, 1861. He commanded his men in the battle of Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, and was finally made chief of artillery in the Army of the Cumberland. After the promotion, he took part in the battles of Stones River and Murfreesboro, the engagements of the Chattanooga campaign. He later was assigned to command of the reserve artillery, Army of the Cumberland, and was thus engaged until mustered out, October 20, 1864. He then became a volunteer aide-de-camp to Gen. George H. Thomas, and participated in the battle of Nashville, March 13, 1865, he was brevetted brigadier general. (http://www.onlinebiographies.info/oh/cuya/barnett-j.htm) 
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Civil War CDVs of New York Zouaves

Lot of 2 cartes de visite, each with W.L. Sutton, Hornellsville, NY backmark, including a studio portrait of a mustached man dressed in a Zouave uniform ink identified on mount below image as A.J. Van Scoter (?), and a second studio portrait showing the same mustached man with an unidentified soldier in Zouave-style uniform standing beside him. The Civil War Database lists six "Vanscoters" from New York, including Chauncey Vanscoter, who served with the 74th New York Infantry. The 74th NY's uniform was directly patterned after the French Zouaves. However, we cannot confirm that either subject is Chauncey Vanscoter. 

The 74th New York Infantry, the 5th Regiment of the Excelsior brigade, was recruited at Pittsburgh, New York City, Cambridgeport, MA, Tidioute, PA, and Long Island, and mustered in at Camp Scott, Long Island, between June 30-October 6, 1861, for 3-years service. Attached to Sickles' Excelsior brigade, the 74th left for Washington in August and was stationed along the Lower Potomac in Maryland during the first winter. It embarked in April, 1862, for the Peninsula with the brigade, as part of the 2nd division, 3d corps, and shared in the siege operations before Yorktown. The 74th won high praises for playing a prominent part in the battle of Williamsburg, and in the ensuing engagements of Fair Oaks and the Seven Days' battles.

Upon its withdrawal from the Peninsula in August, the regiment was sent to the support of General Pope at Manassas, after which it retired to the defenses of Washington. In December of 1862, the 74th participated in the battle of Fredericksburg, and later was engaged at Chancellorsville in May, 1863. The following month, the regiment marched to Gettysburg, where it experienced the hard fighting of the second day on the Emmitsburg road, with a loss of 89 killed, wounded and missing. As the 74th marched southward, it saw action at Wapping heights and Kelly's Ford, as well as Locust Grove during the Mine Run campaign.

In April, 1864, the Excelsior brigade became the 2nd brigade, 4th division, 2nd corps and in May the 4th brigade, 3d division, 2nd corps. The 74th fought through the Wilderness campaign and was mustered out before Petersburg, from June 19 to Aug. 3, 1864. The regiment lost 124 as a result of wounds, and 70 from other causes. It was noted for its courage and steadiness and is numbered among the "three hundred fighting regiments."

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Civil War CDV of Captain William E. Merrill, Chief Engineer Under Sherman

Scarce carte de visite of William E. Merrill as captain, with Porter's Gallery, Cincinnati, OH backmark.

Merrill was a notable American soldier and engineer who graduated first in West Point Class of 1859. He was captured at Cheat Mountain in 1861; POW Richmond; an Engineer, Army of the Potomac, reaching rank of colonel; and Chief Engineer under General Sherman, 1867-1870. He published engineering volumes and noted for construction of Chanoine wicket moveable dam near Pittsburgh, PA.

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Civil War CDVs Including KIA Union Soldier, Generals, Abraham Lincoln, and More

Lot of 9 CDVs, including:

Carte by R.A. Lewis, new York, of a seated soldier, with printed identification on mount's recto: Fred B. Crocker / Comp'y F, 37th Mass. Vols., -killed by a sharpshooter, near Petersburgh, Va., June 21st, 1864, aged 28.

Three of Abraham Lincoln, including two uncredited albumen cartes from engravings and a copy carte published by W. Duke & Sons Tobacco.

Statesmen & Generals of The American Civil War, albumen composite by Case & Getchell, Boston.

Standing portrait of Thomas Starr King (1824-1864), the Pro-Union minister and orator who President Lincoln credited with securing California for the Union.

Uncredited albumen carte of Gen. William T. Rosecrans, from an engraving.

Uncredited, unidentified portrait of a mustached soldier.

And a carte by S.Piper, Manchester, NH, of a disable man using crutches.


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Cabinet Photograph of USS Hartford

Cabinet card photograph of ship in harbor, unidentified, but believed to be Admiral David Farragut's flagship, USS Hartford. With H. Mangel, Pensacola, FL imprint on verso. 

The USS Hartford, launched in 1858, was the first ship of the US Navy named for Hartford, CT. The Hartford embarked to China and other Far Eastern ports, but with the outbreak of the Civil War, she returned home to be fitted for wartime service. Serving as the flagship for Admiral David Farragut, she participated in the Battle of New Orleans, the Battle of Vicksburg, and most notably, the Battle of Mobile Bay, and was recommissioned after the War until 1926. In 1956, allowed to deteriorate and sink at her berth, the Hartford was dismantled.

This photograph come from the estate of Henry Austin Clark Sr. (1865-1951), who was born at 28 University Place, New York, NY, and resided in Flushing, Queens and Southampton, Long Island. He was one of the earliest stockholders of Hawaiian Steamship Company, VP and director of Cuban-American Sugar Company, director of the Chaparra Sugar Company, Colonial Sugar Company and the National Sugar Refining Company. He was husband of Marguerite Dixon Clark, and father of Elizabeth Clark Nicholas and Henry Austin Clark Jr, noted car collector and museum owner.

Henry Austin Clark, Sr., was the son of Dr. Frederick Hamilton Clark, New York City dental surgeon, and Elizabeth Stebbins (Waterbury) who descends from Benoni Stebbins (1655–1704) killed at the 1704 Deerfield, MA massacre. His son, Benjamin Stebbins (1692-1780) was among the first to settle Ridgefield, Connecticut and married to Sarah Mead (1695–1774). The 1777 Battle of Ridgefield took place near the Stebbins homestead.

His son was Joseph Stebbins (1733–1794) and wife, Joanna Smith (1743–1793). His son, Samuel Stebbins (1762–1836) and wife, Ruth Wilson (1762–1850).

Their children, John Stebbins (1783–1834), Betsy Stebbins Hawley (1785–1878), William Stebbins (1786–1873), Ruth Stebbins (1789–1851), Joanna Stebbins (1793–1866), Samuel S Stebbins 1796-1852, Sarah Stebbins (1798–1892), Cecilia Stebbins Waterbury (1802–1871), Mary Emma Stebbins Dauchy (1805–1860).

Their grandchildren, John Wilson Stebbins (1807–1837), Charles Largin Stebbins (1809–1836), Henry G. Stebbins (1811–1881), Mary Garland (1813–1882), Emma Stebbins (1815–1882), Angeline Fleming (1818–1896), William Stebbins (1820), and Caroline Tilton (1828–1901). Mary Hawley Hatch (1817–1899), Sarah Maria Stebbins Merrill (1812–1870), Emma Louisa Bowne (1814), William Stebbins (1817), James Jordan Stebbins (1821–1848), Alfred Stebbins (1825–1903), Adelaide Huntington (1827–1856), Elizabeth Waterbury Clark (1827–1913), Henry Waterbury (1831–1891).?

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Civil War-Era Scrapbook Containing Photograph of Identified Michigan Soldiers, Plus Additional Photos, Engravings, and Clippings

65+ page Civil War-era album featuring a studio photograph (possibly salt print) of identified Union captains: Charles K. Adams, A. Nile, and J.H. Elliot. Another example of the portrait is housed at the University of Michigan: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/b/bhl/x-bl003711/BL003711?evl=full-image&chaperone=S-BHL-X-BL003711+BL003711&subview=detail&quality=2&view=entry. We were unable to uncover additional information regarding the subjects in the photograph.

The album contains additional photographs of identified gentlemen, portraits of ladies, Tom Thumb wedding photograph, lithographs of travel scenes throughout Europe and the United States, and more. 


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Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook, Three Civil War Photographs

Lot of 3 large format, matted photographs from Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook including: Ruins at Manassas Junction; Incidents of the War; and Fairfax Court House. Measures 9.75 x 8 in. (sight) and 20 x 16 in. with its mat. 

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Salted Paper Photograph of Group of Officers

Salted paper photograph, 5.5 x 7.5 in., on 7.75 x 9.5 in. mount. Hand-tinted studio photograph of a four officers, including what appears to be one captain, one 1st lieutenant, and two second lieutenants, each wearing a red-tinted officer's sash and holding a sword. No studio imprint. 

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CSA General Joseph Wheeler, ALS, December 1903

Wheeler, Joseph (1836-1906). CSA General. ALS, 2pp, to his darling daughter speaking about trees on his property and a gin house. Cleveland, OH, December 19, 1903.  

Gallantry displayed at the Battle of Shiloh earned Wheeler the first of many significant promotions in the Confederate Army. He rose from the ranks as lieutenant colonel to general. He also served as a general for the reunified United States in the Spanish-American War. Beyond the battlefield, he was a representative for the state of Alabama and served seven subsequent terms. 

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General Horatio G. Wright ANS Plus

Wright, Horatio G. (1820-1899). Union General in the Civil War. ANS, 3 x 7 in., war date pass written entirely in his hand. Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, Hilton Head, SC, November 16, 1861.

Plus: 2 journal pages with a handwritten note at the top by Lieut. Hubbell, Wright's aide-de-camp; 4 7.5 x 5 in. color lithographed cards showing Ft. Pulanski, published by D. Norstrand and produced by Thomas and Eno and J.A. Sherman Litho., New York; a second war date pass signed by C.W. Foster; a newspaper clipping concerning the Battle of Port Royal signed by Hubbell.

General Wright began his career in the military as an engineer and built many of the fortifications around the capital. He commanded the 1st Div. VI at Gettysburg and led the VI Corps at the Wilderness. He took command of the VI Corps after the death of General John Sedgwick in May 1864. He was wounded at Spotsylvania but continued to fight at Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomattox. At Petersburg, he and his men were the first to break through its defenses. After the war, he involved himself in several major engineering projects including the Brooklyn Bridge and Washington Monument. 

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Civil War Letters from Michigan Soldiers and US Colored Troop Officers

Lot of 4 Civil War letters, mostly from 1st Lieut. James L. Reed, 1st Lieut. 5th USCT Cavl. Co. K 

Optimistic about the Union's strength, James  Lee Reed wrote to his mother, Prospects of war are very much in our favor...I believe we will be back home again in a few months (Washington, July 15, 1861). Reed enlisted in the army on June 10, 1861 as a musician in the 3rd MI Inf. and played on the battlefield until discharged in Hampton, VA on March 24, 1862. He enlisted a second time on October 22, 1863 as a private in the 11th MI Calv. and quickly rose through the ranks. He transferred to the 120th USCT Inf. Co. C after being promoted to 2nd Lieut. on November 1, 1864. He transferred again after his final promotion on June 16, 1865  to 1st Lieut. of the 5th USCT Cavl. Co. K. He resigned on March 16, 1866. Early in the war, he had similar hopes of young men on both sides. Little did they know, the battle waged on for four more agonizing years.

Illness ran rampant throughout Reed's camp in Washington. He attributed the spread of diarrhea to the drinking water. The water has an oily taste to it, wrote Reed to his sister. If we let a pail of it stand over night there will be a coat of oily skin on it in the morning...I am careful about drinking it (Washington, July 1, 1861). His astute observation and caution towards the drinking water most likely saved his health, unlike his relative Levi M. Booth.

Booth suffered from dysentery in the hospital in Washington. He wrote home to his Aunt on the same page as Reed, informing her that he could sit up now and was on medication. Booth was also a musician in the 3rd MI Inf. He enlisted at the age of 18 but slowly worked his way through the ranks to the position of 2nd Lieut. He served with the 3rd MI until he mustered out of Harrison Landing, VA on August 13, 1862. He enlisted a second time on November 7, 1863 and mustered into the 11th MI Cavl. Co. H. He served with them until July 1865, when he transferred to the 8th MI Cavl. The same day of his transfer to the 8th, he received a commission as 2nd Lieut. in the 5th USCT, which he accepted. He resigned from that position a few months later on September 14, 1865. Both Reed and Booth saw little action with their regiments, unlike Sergeant Charles Delamere of the 13th MI Inf. Co. H. 

Delamere enlisted at a sergeant on November 12, 1861. He mustered into the 13th MI Inf. Co. H on January 17, 1862. From the battlefield at Nashville, he wrote his wife Amanda, a long letter. I was attending to a sick man when I heard the cry a letter for Serg. Delamere, he wrote. I vamosed immediately...and forgot all about the sick man until I read it (Nashville, March 26, 1862). Delamere's regiment was afflicted with the same ailments as Booth and Reed's. He assured his wife that there were no fatal diseases spreading and they were in healthy country. He survived the war including the Battle of Nashville, Chickamauga, and Lookout Mountain. He returned home after being discharged from service on March 20, 1863 at Murfreesboro, TN. 

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Rare Civil War Letter with Excellent Description of Fraternization Between Union

ALS, 4pp, (about 8 x 10”), written in clear legible ink on lined white paper. There are rather severe holes & tears along center horizontal fold line. The letter is also separating along the vertical fold-line at the left side of the lower half of both pages.

In this long letter to his wife, Union soldier Sgt. David B. Ovenholt describes:

*The heavy fortifications, "Sand Holes," and Bombproofs of the Union position

*Heavy artillery bombardments on both sides

*Holding hats up on sticks to draw enemy fire

*Trading for SOUTHERN TOBACCO along the picket lines (only ten feet apart in places)

*Union deserters returned by the enemy and sentenced to be shot

*His good health, the state of his bowels, all the fine food he has to eat & Much More!

Full Transcription of the letter follows:

“Provisional Brigade, 18th Army Corps
Defenses near Bermuda Hundred, Va.
209th Regt. PV
Oct. 17, 1864

Sallie Dear,
I must ask your pardon for not writing you sooner, there are not such a great number of troops at this point now, but there are still quite a number here as this point must be held. There are a great many troops massed both on our right and left and judging from the accuracy(?) of the movements and the way they are shelling you would think there was something to be did. There is a line of fortifications running all around us here now and not only one line, in some places two and three. There will be some very heavy fighting here yet.

Our boys have been in, but the entrenchments and forts on our side and the Rebel’s are only about 600 yards apart so we plague the Rebels a good deal, we stick a hat on a stick and hold it up and they think it is a man and “whiz” in comes a bullet.

Our pickets are in some places only about 10 feet apart and I tell you we really have fun.

I frequently go out on the picket line to trade tobacco for Philadelphia and New York newspapers, that is the way I get my tobacco. They are a fine set of men and honorable when we come with flag of truce. This has all to be done between the vidette lines which is the ground between the Rebel and our outposts.

I have a knife with one blade and fork and spoon all together. A Rebel offered me $100 in Rebel and $6 in Greenbacks for it but I could not see it. I bought it in Baltimore and could not get another and the Rebel money is not worth anything. There is not much picket-firing now only two or three shots a night and that only when our men get over into their lines accidentally.

I guess we will go into winter quarters here to see the Rebellion die, Richmond may have fallen before this reaches you, General Butler was with us today and is going up to Richmond this evening to consult with Gen. Grant. The gunboats both in the Appomattox and James Rivers are protecting our flanks and when the “Johnny’s” try to flank us then the dust flies pretty brisk.

Our Artillery is too heavy here for them, and one hours shelling and firing of solid shot is generally sufficient to knock their Rifle Pits and Forts all upside down. But they shell us like blazes sometimes and make us hunt our sand holes and bombproofs. One round of our 200-pounders is generally sufficient. There is more or less firing all the time but only a few men of our Regiment have been hurt in any shape, but some of the 208th and 211th Regiments have been shot and wounded.

Some of their Copperheads went over to the Rebels with the understanding that they should give all the information and they would exchange them in about a year and they could go home then. But it is hard for a Private to find out anything and these fellows gave them information that was not so & they just turned around in a few days and sent them back to us.

They are now sentenced to be shot.

I like it very much here. I have quite a pleasant time of it, and now we will soon go into Winter Quarters and then we will have it better still. Many of our men are sick with Argue or Cold Fever, but I have not had any sigh of it, and will not have as I keep my bowels open.

We will go into Winter Quarters soon and I wish you could come and stay here awhile. Many are sending for their wives and are putting up Quarters. If you could only stop about a month with us. I only wish you could see us, and how we are fixed here. You can not form any idea. I cannot begin to tell you. We are living fine tonight. I had potatoes fried and fresh beef, cheese, butter, coffee, sugar, and boiled Red beats. At noon I had Bean soup, hard-tack, boiled beef and sweet potatoes fried in fat. I tell you we just live. I am still busy at writing and will continue so, as I have none to assist me now. Sometimes we get Cod Fish and Mackeral (?).

We had Church yesterday and I got a whole lot of papers of the Christian Commission agent to read. Both the Sanitary and Christian Commissions do much good, at this place.

I suppose you moved. Will youlet me know where to and write me all the news and everything you can think of. We are not paid off yet but expect soon to be when I will send you a check again. Write immediately and send me $5 in case we should not get paid. I will want it to buy necessaries. I loaned too much away.
Address yours Affectionately
D. B. Overholt
Co. “H” 209th Regt. P.V.
Washington, D.C.

David B. Overholt was from Lehigh County, PA. He enlisted on 9-19-1864 as a 1st Sergeant in “H” Co. PA 209th Infantry. He was Mustered out on 5-31-1865 at Alexandria, VA. He was promoted to 2nd Lieut in his Company on 4-15-1865

The 209th Infantry P.V. was organized as a 1-year Regiment at Camp Curtin, Harrisburg, PA on 9-16-1864. Officers were Col. Tobias B. Kaufman, Lt. Col. George W. Frederick & Maj. John L. Ritchey. The regiment was recruited from the counties of Cumberland, York, Cambria, Franklin, Columbia, Adams, Lehigh and Lebanon. From October to November 1864, the unit was part of a Provisional Division in the 18th Corp of the Army of the James under General Benjamin Butler.

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Scandalous US Navy Medical Inspector, Dr. Edward Kershner and Brother Joseph H. Kershner, 1st Maryland PHB Cavalry, Civil War Letters

Lot of 8. Three letters from Dr. Edward Kershner to his parents written aboard the USS Choctaw; two letters from his father, Gustav; one letter from his brother Jacob; a letter from his sister Marietta; and a letter from his brother Joseph H. Kershner, 1st MD PHB Cav., Co. B.

Disgraced by a court martial that stripped him of his position as medical inspector, Dr. Edward Kershner returned to home to Maryland in 1896 a defeated man.  The Navy charged him with “scandalous conduct” when he supposedly wrote to his family “concerning charges of a serious nature” (Medical Record Vol. 61, 1902, p. 539). The claims were unfounded. His friends in the medical community believed the charges brought against him were more based a difference of opinions between Kershner and a high official, presumably Rear Admiral Richard Meade, on the spread of contagious disease. According to the New York Times, however, Kershner supposedly privately forwarded documents to officers that appeared in print and lied in his testimony. “His case was the first time in the history of the service that the courts suspected an officer of perjury, which caused quite a sensation,” wrote the New York Times (New York Times, June 19, 1895). President Cleveland held the case for eight months before giving his verdict to the Navy Department (New York Times, March 20, 1896). Six years later, the Senate recommended he be reinstated twice, and the House of Representatives unanimously voted that he be restored a month before the issue came before the next president. The president pardoned him from the offense and granted him the position of Medical Inspector of the Navy in 1902.

Before the scandal, Keshner joined the military in September of 1861 after completing his medical training from the University of the City of New York. He commissioned as an assistant surgeon in the Navy and served on the sloop-of-war Cumberland that the Confederate ironclad Virginia sank during a battle. The fight cost the Cumberland one third of its crew and almost took Kershner’s life (Roster of Civil War Soldiers from Washington County, Maryland, 119). An unknown marine discovered him unconscious and saved him from the wreckage. He served on several other ships during the Civil War including on the U.S.S. Choctaw, a side wheel steamer converted into an ironclad ram. Aboard the ship he wrote to his parents about a group of 31 Steamboats loaded with troops along with two ironclads headed towards New Orleans whose ultimate destination he believed was some point on the Gulf to Rio Grande or Mobile. (U.S.S. Choctaw, Bayou Sara, LA, February 20, 1865). His family sent him loving messages of encouragement and tried to keep him informed of the events at home. His father Gustav wrote, I hope that your Ironclads will sweep the coasts, cities, towns, and villages from Hamilton Roads to the Rio Grande of all rebellion and all opposition to the Union (Washington County, MD (?), not dated). Kershner’s other brother Joseph also served in the military, but on land.

Joseph H. Kershner enlisted in the army as a private a few weeks before his brother on August 24, 1861. That November, he mustered into the 1st MD Potomac Home Brigade (PHB) Cavl. Robert Elms and John Rockwell both aged 18 and the smallest of our company were killed, wrote Joseph (Clear Spring, April 30, 1862). Joseph avoided that same fate as his friends through the siege of Harper’s Ferry. He was discharged for a disability on March 30, 1863, barely three months before his regiment fought at the Battle of Gettysburg. Their sister Marietta rightfully fretted over her brothers’ safety. Joseph is home but how long he is going to stay I do not know, wrote Marietta to Edward.  I wish he could stay always and never go back to that horrible war are we not going backward instead of forward Eddie. I do not hear much but all I do hear tends to confirm the opinion that the union is lost, but I still hope that is not so (Hagestown, Tenn(?), Oct. 19, 1862). Hope prevailed and the Union succeeded. 

After the war Kershner continued to serve and reached the rank of surgeon in 1872 and Medical Inspector in 1890. During his leave from the Navy he worked as the chief of Medical Staff and Randall’s Island Hospital and was Professor Emeritus and Professor of Hygiene at New York’s Post-Graduate Medical School. His reinstatement as Medical Inspector in 1902 was brief. He was forced into retirement when he disputed with superior offices over the use of drinking water during an outbreak of yellow fever in the Windward Islands. He died in 1916.







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Civil War Surgeon's Letters, Plus

Lot of 3 letters from Dr. David P. Dearborn, 4th NH Inf. (1); Dr. J.F. Potter, Cincinnati (1); Dr. Henry W. Nichols, 4th MO Cav. and 8th MO Inf. (1).

Death permeated the air surrounding the makeshift hospital tents along with the stench of unsanitary conditions. Beads of sweat accumulated on the brows of overworked surgeons attempting to concentrate while drowning out the screams of their patients and the groans of the wounded. The almost constant stream of soldiers either wounded in battle or suffering from disease left Civil War surgeons little time to answer their loved ones’ letters. I have been Acting Assist. Surgeon to a detachment of our regt. [4th NH Inf.], wrote Dr. David P. Dearborn, I now have charge of a detachment of the 8th Mich, and the entire Regimental Hospital so you may well conclude that I have enough to attend to (Headquarters of Detach, 4th Regt. N.H.V., Beaufort, SC, June 26, 1862). It had been so long since Dearborn’s family had heard from him they presumed he was dead. He sent them a letter informing them that he was alive, but desperately busy.

As a twenty-five-year-old medical student Dearborn enlisted in the army on September 18, 1861. He mustered in as a private in the 4th NH Inf. and received a promotion to 2nd Lieut. on March 22, 1862. Either from need of more medical personnel or a calling to work in the hospital, he resigned on November 4, 1862 but returned the next month as a member of the field and staff as a 2nd assistant surgeon for his regiment. He rose to the rank of surgeon by November 9, 1864.

Despite Dearborn’s willingness to serve as a private before becoming a surgeon, not all physicians in the United States were as eager to enlist. Dr. J.F. Potter of Cincinnati wrote his friend Dr. William Irwin Wolfley, There are plenty of medical men, I do not want to serve as a private…(Cincinnati, OH Aug 27, 1861).  Fifty-three-year-old Potter, lamented at Lincoln’s choice in Simon Cameron for the war department. Mr. Lincoln has done as bad [as] he could do, wrote Potter. He attributed Cameron’s cabinet position as a reason why so few Ohioans did not enlist. Even though Lincoln forced Cameron out in 1862, Potter never joined the front. Dr. Henry W. Nichols, on the other hand, enlisted almost immediately.

Nichols joined the army on June 1, 1861 at St. Louis and mustered in as a surgeon for the 8th MO Inf. He later became an acting staff surgeon under General Sherman on the 4th MO Cavl. during the battle of Atlanta. He wrote to Mrs. Millard and Ms. Lizzie Bryant,

Your letter of July found me with my sleeves rolled up and---but I need no tell you what I was doing for I dislike to offend delicate ears…Near Atlanta there had been strife and contention between excited and angry men and a great great many poor fellows had got badly hurt and it was my part to do what I might to alleviate their suffering—poor boys! (In Camp East Point, Ga, Sept. 27 1864)

He mustered out of service on August 16, 1864 but had a roving commission and was not attached to any particular regt. (In Camp East Point, Ga, Sept. 27 1864). He planned to continue to serve until the spring although there is no other record of his service. While serving in the 8th MO, Nichols experienced the carnage at Shiloh and Vicksburg. He most likely buried many men. Well acquainted with death but still mournful of its coming he wrote,  

Oh! The sad expression of [a soldiers] dying face as the truth [that he is dying] forced itself upon him—I have seen many such sights this summer—God forgive me, but I can’t help calling for the cause upon those who formulated this war…Men who are severely perhaps fatally wounded seldom complain—whether it is high courage, despair, or unconsciousness of their condition, I have never been able to ascertain but the fact stands under the most formidable wounds I have seen them entirely cheerful  (In Camp East Point, Ga, Sept. 27 1864). 

Whether soldiers went cheerfully or fearfully into the grave, surgeons did all they could to cure the wounded. More often than not; however, physicians’ methods sent soldiers into the grave, not their war wounds. 

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USS Housatonic Paymaster John Wolson ALS, Plus Other Navy Related Letters

Lot of 3.

Aboard the USS Housatonic, Paymaster John Wolson wrote a long overdue response to his chum, Dr. Phineas V. Hawley. Allow me to congratulate you on your promotion, wrote Wolson. Hawley, who worked for the NY Central RR, had just advanced his career and assumed responsibilities for the town of Churchill. I don’t know how large [it] is, but whether in a large place and many duties, you are surely on the wad of merit…I really look forward to your rapid promotion, wrote Wolson (June 1862). He continues to write his friend about the city of Boston and its happenings, but concludes his letter with a description of the ship he served. The Housatonic…is a “steam sloop-of-war” of the same 1500 tons burden. Her armament I can’t state, for more reasons than one. Our officers so far, Paymaster always acceptable, are gentlemen—She is a new boat, and is yet unfinished. We hope to get off at farthest by the middle of July. (June 1862)

The Housatonic was finished in November 1861 but did not see her first battle until 1863 when Admiral DuPont’s attempted to take Fort Sumter. She retreated with significant damage, but in subsequent battles she managed to capture many Confederate ships. On a dark night in February 1864, the crew spotted a curious floating object in the distance. Suspecting it was a log or a porpoise, they paid little attention to it. As it came closer, they suddenly realized it was an enemy submarine, the H.L. Hunley. The crew tried to defend itself against attack, but the ship’s size did not allow it to sink low enough to fight effectively against it. The Hunley rammed an explosive charge into the ship’s starboard side. The Housatonic sank within ten minutes.  It was the first and only attack made by the Hunley as well as the first successful submarine attack.

Thomas Vernon(?) ALS to his friend Mr. Hill. Washington Navy Yard, June 5, 1861 concerning the status of the USS Baltimore, a side-wheel steamer used as an an ordnance vessel between Washington Navy Yard and nearby ammunition depots. It transported President Abraham Lincoln, and Secretaries Edwin M. Stanton and Salmon P. Chase, from Fort Monroe to Norfolk, VA to see the destroyed Confederate ironclad CSS Virginia.

An ALS from an unidentified sailor on an unknown ship.

Although we do not know the details of his service or the name of the soldier’s ship, he writes to his cousin in Massachusetts about several of his friends including, Joseph Cary, the executive officer on board the USS Shockoken. The sailor wrote,

She is 50 tons, has a complement(?) of 120 men and a battery of six guns 24.6 30 powders it is an andams(?) portion and requires a man of experience and ability to fill it properly everything has to go through [Cary’s] hands and he has to attend to all the artillery both at the guns and with small arms. He is very anxious to get her in good fighting order so if she is in an engagement they will give a good account of themselves (Eastport, August 7, 1863).

There is no other information on the record of service of the Shockoken, but in May 1865 the New York Times published an article about the public auction of many steamers that served in the Civil War. Listed among them was the Shockoken. It reads,

Yesterday the U.S. steamer Shockoken arrived at the Brooklyn Navy-yard from Edenton, North Carolina. For a long time she has been performing blockading and other duties on the coast and rivers of North Carolina. The following is a list of her officers: Acting Vol. Lieutenant-Commander, FRANCIS JOSSLYN; Acting Master, J.O. Johnson; Acting First Assistant Engineer, Wm. D. Forbes; A.A. Paymaster, C.J. Todd; A.A. Surgeon, E.C. Thatcher; Acting Ensigns, F.C. Warner, W.C. Borden; Mates, R.S. Proudfit, F. Bradley, John Hardy, Jas. B. Lukens, Jas. Wilson, Wm. C. Remick, Jas. Fitzpatrick.

At 11 o'clock yesterday morning, by order of the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, the right to establish a ferry from the foot of Spring-street to Hoboken, New-Jersey, at the point where the old ferry was established, and to maintain the same for a term of ten years from the 1st of June next, was offered at public auction in the Governor's Boom, City Hall.

The landing-place on this side is furnished by the city and on the other side by the purchaser. (http://www.nytimes.com/1865/05/30/news/workingmen-s-union-grand-demonstration-yesterday-day-jones-wood-sixteen-thousand.html?pagewanted=all). 

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Civil War Collection of Letters from New England Soldiers, Featuring ALS from 6th Connecticut Private Discussing the Siege of Fort Pulaski and Capture of Savannah

Lot of 17. 

Halsey Bartlett, 6th CT Inf. Co. A, KIA Bermuda Hundred, VA, ALS, 4pp, to his mother. Dawfuskie Island, SC, April 2, 1862.

Bartlett writes to his mother about the siege of Port Pulaski and the capture of Georgia,

We were encamped about four miles from here on this Island and we moved down here to do guard and picket duty and unload vessels and boats that bring provisions for the soldiers. This place is called Cooper’s Landing. Our quarters are on a negro plantation belonging to a Union man by the name of Stoddard. He stayed here till the day after we took Hilton Head. The Rebels retreating to Savannah by this way would not let him stay but hurried him off with them. He is in Savannah now. All of the Island is owned by Union people who had to flee with the Rebels to save their lives. We have to work very hard on guard, either picket or home guard every other day. We expect to hear the booming of cannon soon on Fort Pulaski. We are expecting the gunboats up from Hilton Head every day to be ready to go into action and they have two batteries on Tybee Island, two on our Island in front of the fort, with eight mortars each. Those on Tybee have ten mortars to throw shells into the fort. It is only 1 ½ miles from Tybee Battery to the fort and six gunboats and two sloops of war, Wabash and Susquehanna. I guess it will not be so hard work after all to conquer them. After we take Fort Pulaski, if we meet with success, we have 3 small batteries and Fort Jackson to take and then comes Savannah. In less than a month you will hear that Savannah is taken. I think there was two men deserted from Fort Pulaski and came over to Gen. Viele’s headquarters and said they were more than half of the men in the fort Union men, and when the fort was attacked, there would be a good many blank cartridges fired. They would get into a fight among themselves and the fort could be taken easy. They have ammunition enough on Tybee Island to fire for eight days all of the time. As we were coming up here last Sunday, we stopped at a church a mile below here and there was a tomb opposite the church which had been broken open and a coffin broke to pieces and the bones of the corpse scattered all about and beside the church lay a human skull. It is not inhuman. Expect someone done it to rob the jewels and plate of the corpse (Dawfuskie Island, SC, April 2, 1862).

Bartlett enlisted as a Private on September 21, 1861 and mustered into the 6th CT Inf. Co. A on September 3, 1861. He re-enlisted on December 24, 1863. His regiment joined Gen. W.T. Sherman early in the war and participated at the battle of Port Royal and in the capture of Savannah. They fought at the second siege of Fort Sumter and the battle of Charleston. On June 17, 1864, Bartlett was killed in action at Bermuda Hundred, VA, after an attack by Gen. Lee’s Army. The regiment lost 184 men and officers, including Bartlett, in their engagement.

Thomas D. Peck, 5th VT Inf. Co. F, KIA at Savage's Station, VA, ALS, Camp 12 miles from Richmond, VA, May 22. Addressed to a Friend.

Thomas Peck felt that he and his regiment were quite highly favored soldiers. For the first few months of the war, they saw little action and avoided many dangerous posts. Peck wrote to his friend, I don’t believe we will have to fight much unless the Rebels are too many for the Advance we have not been in a fight yet but as I said before we was only a few rods in the rear of the couteucting(?) armies He continued, Would it not be curious if we should take Richmond and not have to be in any battle at all  (Camp 12 miles from Richmond, VA, May 22)? Their luck turned later that June. At their first engagement at Savage Station, VA the 5th VT lost 188 officers and men in half an hour including Peck. In total, it was more casualties ever sustained by a VT regiment throughout the entire Civil War

Maj. Charles Chipman, 29th MA Inf. Co. D., DOW Petersburg, ALS to his friend Lieut. John E. Smith.  Harrison’s Landing, VA, July 20, 1862.

Chipman congratulates his friend Lieut. John E. Smith on his promotion and commends his men’s efforts in a recent battle (quite possibly the Seven Days battle fought a few weeks earlier). Poor Mayo he got killed at the first of it, writes Chipman. The officers and men in the Regt. behaved splendidly with very few exceptions, Dr. Coeggswell(?) was taken prisoner, he returned yesterday with a somewhat more exalted opinion of Rebel resources and etc. than he formerly had (Harrison’s Landing, VA, July 20, 1862). In the same letter Chipman criticizes General Pope’s recent orders he believed should have been issued over a year ago.

Chipman enlisted in the army as a Captain on March 18, 1861. Four days later, he mustered into the 29th MA Inf. Co. D. His superiors promoted him to major on December 13, 1861. After surviving the battle of Malvern Hill, Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg he was fatally wounded at Petersburg on March 8, 1864. He died of his wounds along with 25 other officers and men in his regiment.

William H. Walton, 3rd NH Inf. Co. B, Amputee DOW. Camp Grant Arlington Heights, VA, April 20, 1864.

On July 23, 1861 twenty-year-old William H. Walton enlisted as a private in the army. He mustered into the 3rd NH Co. B on August 22, 1861. He re-enlisted on New Year’s Day in 1864. He and his regiment fought at Port Royal, SC and the Siege of Fort Sumter. On April 20, 1864 he wrote to his sister, General Grant left the city Saturday for the front the rebel tried to capture him on his way but they were failed in the attempt (Camp Grant Arlington Heights, VA, April 20, 1864). Two months later, Walton was severely wounded in the right leg at Ware Bottom Church, VA. Doctors operated and amputated the leg to save his life; however, he died of his injuries on July 21, 1864.

Captain Eli Walter Osborn, 2nd CT Co. G and 15th CT Inf., Died a POW at Danville, ALS to brother, signed Walter. Camp Chase Arlington Heights, October 3, 1862

Osborn writes to his brother about Col. Wright’s recent appointment to acting Brig. Gen. of the 15th CT as well as several other regiments. He discusses sword exercises he performs with other officers, but questions if they will be beneficial on the field. Walter enlisted as a captain in the army on April 22, 1861. He commissioned into the 2nd CT Inf. Co. G on April 7, 1861. He served with them until he mustered out on August 7, 1861. He reenlisted and commissioned into the field and staff of the 15th CT Inf. He accepted a promotion to Major on August 26, 1862 and fought with his men at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He was wounded in Battle at Kingston, NC on March 8, 1862 and captured by the enemy. They detained him at Danville prison until he died in prison on April 6, 1865.

Horace B. Morrison, 4th NH Co. D, ALS, 2p., to cousin Luther. Morris Island, SC, November 3, 1863.

Morrison writes to his cousin about a siege on Fort Sumter and Gregg,

They have been bombarding [Fort Sumter] for five days and nights I was on the pickett at Fort Gregg yesterday they shot away the flag on Fort Sumter twice the first time they shot it away a Reb come up on top of the Fort and began to wave it and put the flag up in the afternoon they shot it away again when the Reb come up to out it up away went our guns at him hang bang bang I guess that fellow went to his long home they havent put up the flag yet they will charge on it before many days (Morris Island, SC, November 3, 1863).

Morrison enlisted in the army on September 14, 1861. Four days later he mustered into the NH 4th Inf. Co. D. He received two promotions, reaching the rank of Sergt. by November 6, 1863. He and his regiment joined T.W. Sherman’s expedition to Port Royal, successfully captured Hilton Head Island, and fought at the siege of Charleston. They also participated at Cold Harbor and Petersburg. Morrison mustered out of service on September 24, 1864.

Lorenzo D. Miles, 3rd VT Inf. Co. E, ALS to mother. Camp Near Brandy Station, VA, Jan. 28, 1864

Lorenzo D. Miles enlisted as a private on June 1, 1861. He mustered into the 3rd VT Inf. Co. on July 16, 1861. By the date of his letter, Miles fought at most of the major battles including Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. I am back in the Co. E 3rd VT Battery F “6th” Atry” started for Washington…it is the gen. opinion there will be but little fighting before the first of June, wrote Miles to his mother (Camp Near Brandy Station, VA, Jan 28, 1864). It was an astute judgement because the 3rd VT did not engage in battle again until May. When the fighting continued, it was as intense as ever. Miles and the 3rd VT went on to fight at the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Petersburg. After a seemingly unending series of hard fighting, Miles mustered out on July 27, 1864.

2nd Lieut. James W. Watts, 1st MA Heav. Art. Co. A, 4 ALsS to his Friend Webber in September and October 1863 concerning boot orders for himself and men in his regiment written from Fort Whipple, VA and an ALS from private Benjamin Le Bous/Pous(?) from Fort Albany October 20, 1861 also requesting a pair of boots.

James W. Watts enlisted in the army as a corporal on July 5, 1861. He mustered into the 1st MA Heavy Artillery Co. A, which saw action at Petersburg. He reached the rank of 2nd Lieut. on July 20th 1864 and was discharged from service for a disability on February 17th 1865.

Sylvester Oliver, 2st and 36th MA Inf., DOD, 2 ALsS to mother. Camp Nelson, March 14, 1864 and March 20, 1864.

While recovering from the hospital a very sore throat, a sore head, and some deafness private Sylvester F. Oliver wrote home to his mother, We have lost 4 of our little band of 21st boys not any that you know (Camp Nelson, March 14, 1864). He claimed to be content with his life in the army and was surprised how much he enjoyed it, but a few more days on his sick bed made him more melancholy. I never knew what a home, a mother, and friends was until I came in to the army But don’t think I am homesick, he wrote (Camp Nelson, March 20, 1864).

Oliver enlisted as a private and mustered into the 21st MA Inf. Co. G on January 5, 1864. He transferred out of the 21st on October 21, 1864 out of Petersburg, VA and into the 36th MA Inf. Co. K. He fought at the Second Battle of Bull Run.  Illness, not bullets took his life. He died of disease in Covington, KY on January 29, 1865.

Father and Son POWs, Dimon Hamilton and Ivory W. Hamilton, 1st ME Cav. Co. F and POW, 1863 letters.

4 ALsS from Dimon to his sister from Camp Near Sulphur Spring, Aug. 11, 1863 (?); Camp Baynard Feb. 22, 1863; Camp and Warrentown, Jan. 18, 1864; and Camp 1st Maine Cavalry February 20, 1865. One .5 p. ALS from Ivory W. Hamilton, Warrentown, Jan. 18, 1864.

Dimon Hamilton was nineteen years old when he enlisted for the army on August 30, 1862 with his father Ivory W. Hamilton. The father and son mustered into the 1st ME Cavl. as privates in Co. F. that same day. Dimon wrote his sister, Annie from the front, The brigade is here on picket now it is our regiments turn to go on post tomorrow…father had a letter today and as he was not here I took the liberty to read I was very glad to hear from home (Camp Near Sulphur Spring, Aug. 11, 1863). Dimon re-enlisted on December 31, 1863, his father also continued to serve. Their regiment fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and the Second Bull Run. The enemy captured both of them at Richmond, VA and listed them as POWs on March 1, 1864. The two were exchanged at some point and returned to the front. Dimon was promoted to Corporal in 1865, but was discharged on March 28, 1865. Ivory transferred to the veteran reserves on June 15, 1865.

The Civil War database has an incorrect age listed for Ivory. Census records indicate that he was 42 or 43 when he enlisted, not 24. All the letters written to Annie contain little news from the front, the health of others, and the weather.

Adeline, ALS, 4p., to soldier brother George. Putnam, CT, September 28, 1862.

Adeline informs her brother of the news of home including recent deaths, those who left for the 22nd Reg. for the front, a store closing in town, and her happy reception of a photograph from him. 

Fredrick Bartlett Doten, 14th CT Inf. Co. A, post-war ALS to his wife from Bridgeport, CT, Jan. 21, 1866 lamenting over her painful headaches.

Doten enlisted in the army as a corporal on August 1, 1862. He mustered into the 14th CT Inf. Co. A nineteen days later. He was promoted several times in 1863 and reached the rank of Captain in Co. F on October 20, 1863. He was listed as a POW at Morton’s Ford, VA on February 6, 1864 and paroled on March 15th that same year. He was discharged from the army on March 1, 1865.

Edward W. Curtis, 88th IL Inf. Co. I, ALS to Aunt R. in Hatfield, MA. Gen. Field Hospital Bridgeport, AL, August 16, 1864.

Typical soldier letter where Curtis inquires of news at home but offers little news from the front.

Edward W. Curtis was a twenty-five-year-old printer living in Hatfield, MA when the Civil War began. Although he lived in MA he enlisted in Chicago, IL and mustered into the 88th IL Inf. on August 27, 1862.  He participated in fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga, the Atlanta Campaign, and the Battle of Nashville. He mustered out of service on June 16, 1865 in Chattanooga, TN.

George E. Tisdale, 1st MA Inf. Musician, ALS to wife. Camp Hooker, Doncaster Budds Ferry, MD, December 18, 1861.

Before enlisting in the army, George E. Tisdale worked as a pianoforte maker. He took his musical prowess to serve his country by becoming a musician in the 1st MA Inf. His music; however, was drowned out by the sounds of cannon fire and shells. He wrote to his wife,

The rebels keep up their firing at our pickets and the schooner on the river I see them fire a shell at our Pickets this afternoon they were along beside some of the old buildings close to the waters edge on the banks of the river the shell is just barely cleared them and burst after it struck. It did damage we are in hopes to see something done very soon we cannot think the government will let this river be Blockaded this winter it is a perfect shame (Camp Hooker, Doncaster Budds Ferry, MD, December 18, 1861).

Prior to this battle, Tisdale fought with his regiment at the Battle of Bull Run. In his letter he references the fight, stating the shell sounds were very similar. Before ending his service on July 7, 1862, he fought at the Siege of Yorktown, the Battle of Seven Pines, and Malvern Hill.

Edmund Lewis Hyland, 32nd MA Inf. Co. F, ALS to parents. Philadelphia, September 23, 1863.

Eighteen-year-old Edmund Lewis Hyland enlisted in the 32nd MA Inf. as a private on February 22, 1862.  On September 23, 1863 he wrote to his parents, I expect there will be hard times in the army of the Potomac this fall (Philadelphia, September 23, 1863). Hyland’s expectation most likely stemmed from his experience in the Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He was probably relieved to find that, although there was fighting in the fall, it was not near as awful as his prior battles. Trouble and tragedy did not hold off for long, that summer he was engaged at the Battle of the Wilderness. After that was Spotsylvania Court House and finally, Appomattox Court House.

A letter from an unidentified hospitalized soldier serving in the 42nd MA Milt.(?) 6 p. ALS to John M. Warren. Great Falls, MD, September 30, 1864. He describes in detail his regiment's march to a new location and the grandeur of the Georgetown Bridge. 

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Benjamin Jerough, 2nd VT Infantry, Interesting Civil War Letters Mentioning the Conditions of Confederate POWs and Trading Between Forces on the Front Lines

Lot of 3. 

Hate and bitterness subsided for a short while between Union and Confederate soldiers when they exchanged goods. Confederate soldiers would trade precious tobacco with Union men for food and other items. Benjamin Jerough, a Union private, had a much more sympathetic view of his enemy and mentions trading and conversing between the two foes at Petersburg. Everything seems to be quiet along the lines at present he deserters are not coming in as fast as they have been, wrote Jerough.  I understand that their orders are such that they are not allowed to even speak to our boys, previously they have been in the habit of meeting our boys between the two lines and trading tobacco and jackknives and other articles (Camp Near Petersburg, March 12, 1865).

Jerough’s letter shows that some soldiers still spoke to their enemy and recognized their humanity. Confederate superiors realized how dangerous this could be on the field of battle and ordered their men to no longer consort with them. Separation and a sense of otherness were vital to war because a little kindness could possibly make the hardest soldier’s heart soften and question why he fought. Prior experience and the memories of fallen comrades, however, would often harden the men’s hearts again and allow them to lift up their rifles with little to no remorse. Yet, despite fighting for his life at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor Jerough found fault on both sides.  His heart not only bled for Union soldiers but also for Confederate prisoners. In Alexandria, he witnessed a large group of 1600 paroled Confederate soldiers march into his camp.  They were ragged barefooted and half starved, describes Jerough.  Our northern people preach for deferent from what it is they pretend to say that the soldiers are well cared for they don’t know anything about it let them come here and see (Hagerstown, October 14, 1862).

Many American civilians felt ire towards the Confederacy for the poor treatment of captured Union soldiers. As Jerough mentions, the same people felt that the Union treated Confederate prisoners well. Contrary to their beliefs, both the Union and the Confederacy stuffed their prisoners into overcrowded cells rife with disease. Thousands on both sides died from malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, or exposure to the elements. Even though in one battle Jerough helped cary some of them of the 700 dead, wounded, or missing men off the field he still did not feel that those actions justified the poor treatment of Confederate soldiers (James Island, June 23, 1862).

Luckily, the war ended in the summer of 1865. The Union and Confederacy released their prisoners and the divided states could work towards being united once more. 

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Maine and Maryland Civil War Soldier Letters, Lot of 11

Lot of 11.

Lt. Fredrick Pringey, 3rd MD Inf. Potomac Home Brigade, DOD at Annapolis, 7 ALsS to Miss Deborah J. Matlick

Young Lt. Frederick Pringey joined the service as a private in the 3rd MD Inf. Co. H in March 5, 1862. He accepted a commission as 1st Lieut. of the 3rd MD Inf. Co. I that September. While serving the Union he met a young Virginia woman named Miss. Deborah J. Matlick. The two formed an acquaintance that Pringey certainly hoped would blossom into much more. He sent several letters from Annapolis to Matlick asking her for her likeness, sending her an ambrotype of himself, and even a poem of “friendship.” He discusses some of the men and typical soldier news with her including a bout of typhoid fever he contracted in November 1862 that he overcame. Less than three months later, on January 3, 1863; however, he suffered from an illness he would not recover. He is currently buried at Russell Smith Farm Cemetery in West Virginia.  

It appears that Deborah did marry another Civil War Veteran, Dr. J.B. Fogle, in 1878.

John F. Robinson, 16th ME Inf. Co. E, Wounded in Battle, 3 ALsS to wife, 1 ALS from wife.  

Thirty-six-year-old John Robinson lived with his wife of fourteen years and his children in Rome, ME. They were desperately poor. Mary worked long, hard hours as a housekeeper in town while John worked their farm. Most likely out of desperation for money or the draft, Robinson enlisted in the army on August 14, 1862 and mustered into the 16th ME Inf. Co. E. It pained him to know that his wife had to work so hard scrubbing the floors and kitchens of others, but the family was reliant on her income (Camp Near Sharpsburg, September 28, 1862). The long stints without pay from the military did not help the family either. Consequently, Robinson could not afford some of the essentials. I have not had a cleen shirt in a leven weeks, wrote Robinson, we are lousy as dogs (Rappahannock Station, VA, November 10, 1862). Like many soldiers, he missed his wife and children. Poor weather conditions increased his homesickness. We have to sleep on the cold ground with nothing but the blanket over us it is very cold nits, described Robinson. Remember me when you are in the warm bed (Rappahannock Station, VA, November 10, 1862). Sometime in battle, he was seriously wounded and sent to the hospital. Worried, Mary wrote, we all feel very uneasy till we have another letter from you I want to know if you think you shall be to home (Rome, ME, December 23, 1862).

Robinson remained at St. Paul’s Church Hospital until at least March of 1863. Shortly after his letter, he returned to his regiment and commenced fighting. Either by a fresh wound or complications with his prior injury, he was discharged for a disability on July 15, 1863. One hopes that his injury was not serious enough for him to not work and that his pension was enough to feed his family. Between 1865 and 1870, Robinson died leaving behind not only Mary but also their four children. Mary quit housekeeping and managed the farm. Her oldest son George, left for work elsewhere to support the family. Mary was able to keep the farm until at least 1880. There are no other records that indicate what happened to her after that point.

 Jesse Priest, 3rd ME Light Art., 2 p. ALS to wife from Virginia on May 31, 1865.

Priest was a 44 year-old private who enlisted in the army on December 30, 1863. He and his regiment, the 3d ME Light Art., joined Gen. Burnside’s Corps in April 1864 and fought at Petersburg. In the letter to his wife, he explains that he and his regiment are marching towards Washington and it would take ten to twelve days to reach the city, being on the move would inhibit his ability to write letters home. Priest mustered out on September 1, 1866.

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William H. Tilden, 111th NY Co. A, KIA at Gettysburg, Letter

I try to pray each night before I close my eyes to sleep for my pour self for all the poor soldiers and friends neer and dear to me away in a distant land, wrote Private William H. Tilden. Twenty-six-year-old Tilden enlisted in the army at Palmyra, NY on August 9, 1862. Eleven days later, he mustered into the 111th NY Inf. Co. A. In addition to his duties as a soldier, he served as both a commissary and a cook for his regiment. Failing health prompted him to report [himself] to the surgeon unfit for duty. He wrote to his brother, I shall try and preform my dutys as a cook and commissary for that will not expose me to the cold (Camp Near Centerville, January 20, 1863). Bullets, however, were more dangerous than the cold. While near Bull Run battlefield, he encountered so many human bones that they became a familiar sight rather than a ghastly one. Little did he know, in a few short months, he would fight in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and become one of many skeletons left behind. He died the morning of July 2, 1863 during one of the first few days of the awful engagement. Lincoln honored him and the fallen when he delivered his famous address on that same hallowed ground. He is still buried at Gettysburg. 

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Alonzo Bullock, 10th NY Heavy Artillery, Co. E, Civil War Letters

Lot of 6. 

Barely beyond the age of enlistment, nineteen-year-old Alonzo Bullock signed his name on his papers not knowing what was ahead. The Civil War database lists an Alonzo M. Bullock enlisting as a private in Dowignac, MI on August 20, 1861, mustering in to the 1st MI Cavl. Co. On September 7, 1861 and dying of disease before the end of the war.  Further research uncovered a second Alonzo M. Bullock who enlisted in the army at the age of nineteen on August 8, 1862. He mustered into the 10th NY Heavy Artillery Co. E. as a corporal, but mustered out of the army a quartermaster sergeant. Based on the content of the letters it is our belief that the second Bullock of the 10th NY is the author of the letters offered in the lot.  

Bullock wrote to his friend Daniel, I am well considering the circumstances am enjoying myself tip-top but as a matter of course I should enjoy myself better in a somewhat different pursuit did not Duty in his firmness demand the protection of our country (Fort Richmond, Dec. 29, 1862). He missed home and the freedom that came with civilian life, You speak of a visit from which you had just returned, we soldiers to be sure are deprived of that privilege now but imagination and memory do not nevertheless lay dormant and hope of the Future allures us on, wrote Bullock to Daniel. God grant that [this war] may at last transpire and secession and the compromise enter their grave and if it would do any good for me to say it I should not hesitate in wishing that the war would close as you have said this spring (Fort Richmond, February 16, 1863). He comically wrote to his friend when his regiment moved from Fort Richmond to Fort Sandy Hook, I do not pretend that I have given a full description of [Fort Sandy Hook] for had I attempted that I should have begun with sand intervened by sand and closed by using sand as sand is the principal and I had almost said the only product (Fort Sandy Hood, April 5, 1863). In all the war was much more “boring” than he anticipated. He wrote,

When I enlisted I thought I understood in some degree at least the hardships I was to undergo did not think to live in some kingly palace or or yet in peace.on the contrary I thought I was to go down South and after having helped to erase Rebellion from the starry sheet of our nation’s pride return to a home justly defended…methinks we might justly speak of hardships on the grounds of experience but as it is in my way thinking experience is yet to teach the 10th A the hardships of war….(Fort Sandy Hook May 4 1863).

Between all his grumblings of the constraining life of a soldier was pride, patriotism, and hope for the future. It most likely pleased Bullock when, toward the end of the war, he and his company finally went out to the front. We experienced some tiresome marching heard at times the whizzing and bursting of the shell over heard and the Minnie ball as it seems to single out its victim…when the contest is over if life be spared we may look back to these days without regret beholding the star spangled banner waving, to us, in triple beauty (Camp Near Petersburg, June 23, 1864).  He survived the war and mustered out of service in June 1865.  

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Civil War Letters Concerning Private Patrick O'Riley, 67th NY Vols. or 1st Long Island Co. K, DOW Malvern Hill

Lot of 5.

Documenting the dead was a monumental task for the Union Army. Understandably, there were some errors in paperwork as to the status of soldiers. Sometimes superior officers erroneously listed soldiers as deserters when, in reality, they died on the battlefield or had been captured by the enemy. As if the loss of their husbands were not enough, some widows of soldiers would have no access to their husbands' pensions if offices or officers listed their husbands as deserters. The only way a bereaved woman could collect their deserved benefits is if they could prove their husband’s innocence by hiring an attorney. Bridget (Reynolds) O’Riley was one of many unfortunate women whose husbands were erroneously listed as deserters. She hired William Anderson to prove her husband served valiantly and died a soldier, not in disgrace. The case took nearly two years to complete.

O’Riley’s military record is elusive as to the circumstances surrounding his death. There are few records on the Civil War database of members of his company and no listing of an O’Riley or Riley. According to the letters, O’Riley’s officers knew him as Riley. He was a member of the 67th NY Vols., Co. K and was wounded in battle.

Anderson, Mrs. O’Riley’s attorney, began searching for the truth by writing several letters to the U.S. Sanitary Commission’s clerk of the hospital, Hade France(?). Undeterred, he wrote a fourth time inquiring of the information he needed to prove Riley’s innocence. France replied,

We wrote on the 24th of April that we could give you no more information on the subject. The very last news of him was in fact the first which we communicated, viz., what the Adjt. General’s office reports “deserted Dec. 1 1862” but this conflicts with what Surgeon of 67th NY who says nothing heard of him since the Battle of Malvern Hills…as the case looks at present we fear it will be but a fruitless effort to trace him any further than that indefinite word ”Missing-“ (U.S. Sanitary Commission, Philadelphia,  August 3, 1863).

One of his superior officers, Lieut. G.W. Chandler, 2nd Brig. 1st Div. of the 6th Corps Batt. 67th NY Vols.,  wrote to Anderson,

Mr. Riley is not to my knowledge a deserter. He was wounded and taken prisoner at the Battle of Malvern Hill and has not been heard of by anyone of the Regt. It Is pretty certain that he must have died in the prison or on the road to Richmond. He was placed on roll as a deserter by error of the one who made out those rolls at the time you mention. December 1, 1862….(Camp Near Harper’s Ferry, August 23, 1864).

Anderson’s inquiry was enough to restore Mrs. O'Riley's pension. He had her sign a receipt on September 30, 1864 verifying her acceptance of it. 

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Civil War ALS from Joseph McClellan, 5th Pennsylvania Cavalry, from Bermuda Hundred, VA, Mentioning Hatred for the War and Abolitionists

An honest letter from a disgruntled soldier to his friend. Joseph McClellan writes, 

Butler the beast has issued an order that all shall stay for three years from the day they were enlisted and sworn in. I will be three years in the field of active duty by the 27th of July 1864 but still I cant get out for near three months more on account of the blunders of other men...Butler is rightly named being called the beast. Grant should be called the butcher...they may keep calling on hundred thousand more as long as the war is conducted the way it is and till the loss will soon let them draw off butcher Grant and put Gen. McClellan in his place, the hope would once more revive again, would the war worn soldier behold a dawning of the end (Bermuda Hundred, July 21, 1864). 

McClellan's anger extended to abolitionists as well. He wrote, 

I look on those abolitionists a the worst enemy the country has got--speaking of country we have no country, its an obsolete idea (Bermuda Hundred, July 21, 1864). 

McClellan enlisted in the army on October 6, 1861 and mustered into the 5th PA Cavl. Co. M that same day. He experienced little action with his men. Disease and illness took more in the 5th than bullets. He was captured by the enemy on February 7, 1863 at Williamsburg Stage Road, VA, which might explain his pessimism. There is no muster out date for him, we assume it was some time in September 1863. 

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