SUPERB GETTYSBURG CAMPAIGN CONFEDERATE SOLDIER LETTER - CORPORAL JAMES A. McGALLIARD, CO “B”, 54TH NORTH CAROLINA INFANTRY

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Dated “Williams Port VA/ July the 10th 1863”. To his wife. 2 pp., in ink, on lined paper, 7.75 x 11.5”. Exhibits yellowing & light foxing, ink lightly faded; also fold-marks & light chipping at fold-line intersections. Else VG, and entirely legible.

James McGalliard was mustered as a private in Co. “B”, 54th NC Infantry, 5/19/62. He was promoted to Corporal, 5/12/1863, was captured at Rappahannock Station, VA, 11/7/1863, and confined at a POW at Point Look Out, MD, 11/11/1863, where he later died, 1/9/ 1864.  McGalliard is buried in Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery in Scotland, St. Mary’s County, MD.

His unit, the 54th NC, became a component of Hoke’s Brigade, ANV, and were engaged at the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. On the march north during the Gettysburg Campaign, the 54th was assigned a consignment of Union prisoners to be escorted to Richmond. Returning to Winchester, VA on July 3, 1863, the 54th was assigned to the army ordnance train then in Pennsylvania. Arriving at Williamsport, VA, on the Potomac River on July 5, the unit was ordered by General Imboden to take position to repel any attacks on the ordnance train now on retreat from Gettysburg. McGallaird’s letter to his wife reflect the regimental activities of that hectic campaign. Later that fall, McGaillard was bagged with 300 other Confederates during a Sixth Corps night assault on Confederate positions at Rappannock Station. He would never see his wife again, dying at the Point Look Out Camp, 1/9/1864. By the time of their surrender at Appomattox, the 54th NC had dwindled to 53 men, only 23 of whom were armed.

Letter Text:

Page One: “My Dear wife: Thank god I am well and have the time to write you a few lines which will inform you that I am well and hoping this letter many Reach you and find you and the children well I have more newse than I can write I am at this time on the patomoc River near Williamsport we have bin into mereland and in another fight we give the Yankees a goodwhipping hit [it] was the cavalry we fought tha undertook to capture our wagon train But we whipped them owt we was then sent to this side of the river to guard some wagins on this side where we are today our main army has bin to Gettysburg Pencilvania and has had one of severest Battles of the war The first two days of the fite we Run Them Back fews mile and took one of there breastworks But our army was so cut up we had fall Back The next day General Lee ordered the Senter to Retreate To a Certan point in great confution in order to draw them out wich did and longStreet and A.P Hill closed in on ther Rear and give Thim fits We got 5 or 10 Thousand prisoner The los on both sides is powerful The Report is we killed 5 to 1 lonStreet whipped Them again at South Mountain and are fiting in that direction at this time I have heard cannons ever Sense Sevn this morning we have Bin Blest I with great luck By Being sent Back from Winchester with prisoner we mist Being in all those hard fights and we thank god for hit Some companies went in to the fite with 30 or 40 men come out with 6 unhurt the lies of wounded men I never saw before Lieutanant Conly is wonded John Sargent is wonded shot in the Brest we got four wonded in our company Noah Biggerstaff is one of the four Leiuteant conly was in the big fit he had get to be Capt of the 22 Regt I heard from Conly the two first days of the fite he was not hurte But I Ihaven’t heard from sense I am afraid he is killed or wonded I am in hopes tha will send us to Richmond with prisoner again There is Eight Thousand here to be sent By Some dy.

Page Two: I hear General Lee says if his men will stick to him 6 days he will tell them the best newse that tha [y] ever heard I do hope and pray hit may Be So we have captured Sense we left FredericksBurg some 4 Thousan prisoners Be sides a variety of other stuf such as lither comasary stores and the like I think if we meet with noit defeat the war will stop by fall at least I hope So hit is powerful to think of the men we are loosing Cob Avery was killed in the Battle of gettysBurge he was acting Brigader Gen of our Brigade Len Hoke was wonded at FredericksBurge The last letter I got from you was wrot the 20- June the one Jim dueks wife sent a peace in I think I will get one when our mail comes up again I want to hear from you Mity bad tell James dueks james is on the road to us and will be here today I heard from him last nite By Alford miers I sti pe in very good spirits and I hope to live to get home to you and if I can it is all I want I am still trying to serve god the Best I can I hop if I never see you again on Earth to meet you where we’ll hurt no more you mustlet me no how your are getting along and send me all the newse you can I love to hear any knd of newse from home let me no if little Billys hand has got well ytet or not tell all the children ther papay wants to see them mity bad I have nearly forgot how tha little thngs looks I can See Bud plainer than any of them its fills my heart so full when I begin to think of the poor little things left dependent on the world and me a wayhere anse the lord noes whether I will get Back or not and if I don’t my god what become of them of them hit nearly Breaks my heart my dearwife you must for me ask god to let me live to Return to my home I wll have to close may the lord bless you and save you in heaven is the prayer of your humble husband James A. Mc Galliard/ To M. E. Mc Galliard.

One of the more poignant Civil War soldier letters the Horse Soldier has encountered. The closing section, in which McGalliard expresses he hopes of staying alive order to see his family once more, is especially so, as we know what fate awaits him in a Union prison camp five months down the line. In protective sleeve. Transcript provided, documentation included—[Soldier histories/54th NC Infy Gettysburg Battle Report, etc.]. Invites further investigation.

Magnificent Confederate collectible. Superb Gettysburg Campaign soldier letter.   [JP]

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