CIVIL WAR CORRESPONDENCE — OHIO COMMISSARY OFFICER & TWO BROTHERS, RE: BRIG. GEN. THOMAS WELCH, USA

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Three letters dated “New York, May 11, 1862”, “New York, Nov. 17th, 1862”, “Cincinnati, July 5, 1863.” Each letter two pages, in ink, one on lined paper, all measuring 10 x 8”. All lightly yellowed and lightly foxed, while remaining entirely legible in clean, clear ink. Else VG.

The two 1862 letters are from an unknown Ohio state commissary officer, who signs as “John”, to an unknown brother. The November ’62 contains pertinent content concerning Col/ Brigadier Thomas Welsh. The third letter, date from Cincinnati is from one of John’s brother to another brother and contains miscellaneous war news.

Text, May 11 1862:

“I intended to write last Sunday but on that day we shipped about 10,000 shell and case shot 10 & 20 for Parrot guns for Yorktown. Perhaps I ought to explain what a case shot is. It is a shot made like a shell with 2/3 of the cavity filled with bullets and melted brimstone poured into them. They are said to be a very good remedy for “Secesh”. When taken in large doses they cause a spasmodic action of the lower extremities. For further particulars see the latest new from the south……..John”

Text, November 17, 1862:

“One week ago I was as sure that I was going to Tipas as I am that this letter will reach you. About 2 weeks since gen. Corcoran was at the Arsenal and offered Col. Welch [45th P.V.I.] the position of brigade commissary of his staff. The col. Thought very favorably of it for sometime but finally declined. So you will see that I am not going to Topas. There is an expedition fitting out under the command of Gen. Banks and Gen. Corcoran has left N.Y. with his brigade for the Rendezvous. The destination of the expedition is supposed to be Topas. Col. Welch had he gone with them, would require some help and I should have gone with in the capacity of check. Store keeper or master of supply trans or something of that nature.

“I must say that I was very much disappointed when the Col. declined the offer (but let her rip) since Gen. Welch has returned from that Virginia campaign he has been very sick so sick that his life was despaired of for many days but he is now getting along finely. I suppose we will all be turned out soon after the administration come into power that is if the senate confirms the appointment of a new Commissary Gn. I am glad the government has finally waked up to the fact little Mack is a great _____ I hope Burnside will give them rebels hell. Excuse the term but that is what I mean…….Yours, John”

 

Text, July 5, 1863

“….It was reported yesterday that Captain. Frank Place was badly wounded in the engagement at Gettysburg and his company badly cut up. He was a Capital fellow and had a good set of boys. It is also reported that the rebel army is defeated by Mead…if that is so we will have_____here. John is no longer connected with the commissary of this state, he will be home this week…..”

From the context of these letters, and the sequence of persons and places alluded to, would appear that brother “John’ had political appointment an official in the Ohio State Commissary, and that he lost his appointment in the wake of the 1862 Ohio gubernatorial election. In the meantime [November ’62 letter], he had hoped to have accompanied Col. Welsh as an assistant had Welsh accepted Gen. Corcoran’s offer to his brigade commissary officer. Hence, brother John’s his disappointment when Welsh declined Corcoran’s he offer.

As for the connection between John and his brothers and Col. Welsh, there seems to have been some home town connection, either in Ohio where Welsh once resided, or in Columbia, PA, his final place of residence, which was also seem to have been the home of the brother whom “John” wrote the 1862 letters In any case, brother “John” had known Welsh well enough to have had an expectation of becoming his assistant had Welsh taken the Corcoran’s offer.

Colonel Thomas Welsh was a prominent officer with a fine Mexican War record, who in 1862, at the time these letters were written, was serving as Colonel of the 45th P.V.I. Welsh’s illness alluded in the Nov. 17th letter was probably not the bout of malaria that caused his death on 8/14/1863. In the meantime Welsh served at Fredericksburg with the 45th PA., took a staff command with Burnside’s Dept. of Ohio Command in Cincinnati, and received promotion to Brigadier General of Volunteer in 313/1863.

An intriguing letter group, inviting further research. Full transcripts provided.

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