Various, 1860-1889. Item #99-7003
Letters and envelopes vary in size, less than half have envelopes (not all with postmarks/stamps), number of leaves vary from one to four, occasionally there are two letters per individual correspondence. Couple of the letters lack leaves, some soiling, chipping, staining, about half the letters have light ink and some are more readable than others. Overall, good to very good condition. For the most part the handwriting is legible and the writers are educated and able to express their thoughts well. The 26th Michigan Infantry was organized in Jackson, Michigan in 1862. In April and May of 1863 they participated in the defense of Suffolk. "We are now on what is known as the battleground of the deserted house eight or nine miles from Suffolk doing pickett duty and guarding while our forces tear up and carry off the track on the line..." In July they were ordered to New York for the draft riots. By October they were assigned to the Army of Potomac, 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 2nd Corps. At Rappahannock in November "We came to the river at Kellys Ford....we completely surprised the Rebs taking some 500 prisoners..." Later in November for the Mine Run campaign "the advance encountered the enemies pickets....drove them about three miles...hot skirmishing all day...the shells and balls fell thick among us wounding Joseph Greer in the right arm..." (later amputated) "...in the advance as skirmishers...brisk little fight with a regiment of Johnnis...drove them through an open field behind their earthworks...." Also describes the sounds of shells and mortar balls. In the 1864 letters Will writes about the sickness and death of some of the soldiers, how Chaplain Wilson feels that the war would never end due to drunken officers "seeing them so drunk just before an engagement that they would not sit straight in the saddle..." Will goes on to say "There are a great many things done by the powers that be that are hard to swallow..." and goes on a lengthy rant against the government. In the last entries in early April- "We have drill every 4 hours every day now...all old and surplus clothing...packed and sent to the river...have heard that our officers are ordered back...." On May 12, the 26th participated on the charge on the Confederate works near Spotsylvania, hand-to-hand with bayonets and the regiment was one of the first to plant its colors. (The 26th was considered to be the best skirmish regiment in the army and often preceded the division in combat). They continued along the enemy line for a mile, taking prisoners, guns and colors. Unfortunately, the regiment suffered tremendous losses: 27 killed (including the Dean brothers), 98 wounded and 14 missing. Most of the missing were later confirmed to be dead. In the group of family letters: In a letter written to Ollie (Olive, the Dean brothers' sister), a friend writes from Jamesville (NY?) in 1861 about the excitement surrounding a meeting for volunteers (soldiers), "the companys from three counties were assembled here for the purpose of forming them into companies and drilling them!" Sister Rose writes in 1865 to Olive about a fire at Ithaca totally destroying Comstock's tavern. Winthrop D. Curtis in 1864/1865? Writes to his wife Olive Dean about getting discharged (no indication of regiment) and how hard it is to find a job. Much later, 1887, Alfred Russell writes to his wife Ellen (another Dean sister) about his trip to Tennessee to "buy 450 acres of choice land five miles from the city to Columbia in Lawrence Co." and about the closest market possibilities and that the land is productive. Most of the family letters have decent content. Overall, a fantastic collection of Civil War soldiers' letters that are articulate and filled with detail and insight. Thirty-seven Civil War letters- including the sympathy letter and eighteen family letters for a total of fifty-five letters. An added bonus is a group of fifteen envelopes, 1860?-1914, none of which match up to the letters without envelopes, making a total of 70 pieces. Great content.