LETTER WRITTEN BY SOLDER WOUNDED AT GETTYSBURG - PVT. JONATHAN MERRIL, C0. “I”, 2nd NEW HAMPSHIRE INFANTRY

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Dated “Baltimore, MD, Jan. 4th 64”; w/yellow cover addressed to “ Mrs. Belinda J. Russell/ Woodstock/ N.H.,” post-marked “Baltimore/ M.D./ Jan 5/1864,” w/ three cent stamp. 3 pp., in ink, on lined paper, 5 x 8”. Exhibits fold-marks and slightly fading ink. Else VG and entirely legible.

Text:

Dear Cousin…It is with pleasure that I write a few lines to let you know that I am still alive. I was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg and have been so that I was not able to write but I am getting pretty well now and hope these few lines will find you the same.

I had a pretty severe wound but it is getting along well now. Simon Merrill is here in the same hospital. He has got his left leg taken off just below the knee. It has got pretty near well. He sends his love and best respects to you and George and says that he should like to see very much.

We have got a very good place and we have good care and plenty to eat and that which is good. There is no news to write and they said Father was as well as usual. Give my love and best respects to your husband and keep a good share for the same. Pleas write soon and excuse all mistakes and poor writing. Good bye for this time/ In haste/ Jonathan Merrill

P.S. Directo Jonathan Merrill, U.S. Gen Hospital, Newton University House, 3, Ward, 1 Baltimore, M.D.”

Jonathan Merrill, aged 20, was a resident of New Canaan, N.H., who mustered as a private in Co. “I”, 2nd N.H. Infantry, 6/7/1861. He was wounded severely at Gettysburg, 7/2/1863, and was mustered out of service, 6/21/1864.  Merrill died at the ripe old age of 85 on 10/2/1926, and is buried in South Newbury Cemetery, Merrimack County, NH.

Mustered in June 1861, beginning with the Battle of Bull Run, the regiment saw extensive service with the Army of the Potomac, participating in most of its major battles. At Gettysburg, serving with the 3rd Corps, the 330 men of 2nd NH was posted in the Peach Orchard when Longstreet’s assault was launched in late afternoon, July 2, 1863. Virtually overrun, the unit suffered 25 dead, 133 wounded, and 35 missing in action. Of the wounded, Company “I” soldier Martin Haynes wrote later that “the man on my right [Jonathan Merrill) had his thigh cut away.” The Simon Merrill whom Jonathan Merrill mentions in his own letter as having lost a leg was also of Company “I” at Gettysburg, and also a Merrill relative known to the cousin—Belinda Russell—to whom he was writing.

Serving to the end, following Lee’s surrender, the 2nd N.H. was detailed to provost duty in the Northern neck of Virginia, mustering out 12/19/1865. During service they lost 188 killed and mortally wounded and 172 men by disease for a total of 350.

Superb WIA letter by a member of the 2nd New Hampshire, who paid their dues and then some in the Gettysburg Peach Orchard. Transcript provided, accompanied by brief amount of internet research.  [jp/ld]

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