LETTER GROUP RELATED TO GETTYSBURG CASUALTY PRIVATE JAMES H. BARKHUFF, CO. “H”, 134TH NEW YORK INFANTRY – WOUNDED IN ACTION IN THE “BRICKYARD”/COSTER AVENUE FIGHT ON 7/1/1863, DIED 9/22/1863

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Item Code: 224-501

Consisting of three letters, one from Private Barkhuff to an uncle Henry Mickle sent prior to the Gettysburg, dated “Camp near Stafford Court House House / May 9th 1863.” One page in ink on unlined paper, 8” x 5, w/patriotic “Protect us” flag in left corner. Exhibits fold-marks, light soiling and scribbled pencil numbers on reverse page.

The second letter, dated “Gainesville Monday Sept. 14th 1863,” written from Aunt Elsie Mickle to a niece five days before his death, describes Private Barkhoff’s wounding and Gettysburg hospitalization. 2 pages in ink on lined paper, 5” x 8. Exhibits fold-marks, else VG. The third letter, dated “Gainesville Janyary the 15th 1863, written by “Ellsie” Mickle to a “Sister” addresses family gossip, making no mention of Private Barkhoff. 3 pages on lined paper, 5” x 8. Exhibits fold-marks. Else VG.

Text—Pvt. Barkhoff letter—June 9, 1863:

“Dear Uncle…I have just come in off of Picket. I thought I must write and send you my Alottment note, if mother should send to you for money, then I want you to collect one of the notes and send her some. I shall write a letter to Janey with some money in [it] and I want Aunt Else to have her picture taken in a card smaller than an enveloped and send it to me. I want it taken full size. Wm. [William] will tell you about the Battle [of Chancellorsville, May 3-4 1863] so I will not write much this time. Kiss sissy for me. Give my love to the folks and all friends. You must lett the little boys write to me. James Barkhoff to James Mickle.

Text—Aunt Elsie Mickle letter pertaining to James Barkhoff—9/14/1863:

“Dear Niece…by the request of your Sister Sarah I will attempt in my poor way of writing to you. She received a letter from James’ nurse written by his request September 4th wishing his mother to come as soon as possible and see him. He had another spell of bleeding. She started the next morning which was Saturday. She got there on Sunday morning but could not be admitted until Monday. She staid until Thursday night and tood the cars[?] and got back to our house Friday night. She found him very weak and low. He had a spell of bleeding the day before she left for home. She got some clothes and some more money and started again this morning for Philadelphia [Satterlee Hospital]. She will be there tomorrow morning and will stay until he gets better or worse.

When he was wounded he was taken prisoner and it was three days before he was paroled and then his arm was split open. They found no ball in his arm. He was sent to the hospital his arm was swelled so bad they could not discover the ball. There was an abscess formed on the under side of his elbow. The doctor lanced it and found the ball. It had been in so long the gangrene had rotted the artery off which was the cause of its bleeding. He is to weak to have it taken off now and is too weak to take chloroform and have it done. I think his case is doubtful. But we did not tell Sarah so but I think she feels it will be so. She is perfectly satisfied with the care he has she says. He is taken better care of than she could take care of him. He has everything he wants to eat and it is the neatest place she ever saw in that they baby them soldiers as you would an infant. We shall have a letter as soon as she has time to write after she gets there and she will write to you too. I have written the particulars thinking you would like to know all about it. We all sympathize with her in her trouble she wants it now if ever….Tell Jany she must not tease her mother for any thing at present her heart is full of trouble…”

At age eighteen, James Barkhuff enlisted at Duanesburgh, NY, and was mustered into Co. H”, 134th Infantry. On 9/22/1863 he died of wounds received at Gettysburg, 7/1/1863. Attached to the 11th Corps, his unit was engaged at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Bristow Station, then transferred to the Western Theater, where it served with the 20th Corps, Army of the Cumberland, participating in the Atlanta Campaign and Sherman’s March to the Sea and through the Carolinas. Mustered out 6/10/ 1865, the unit lost during service 43 killed and mortally wounded and 79 to disease for a total of 122.

The 134th New York was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Lieutenant Colonel Allan H. Jackson while Colonel Charles Coster was in command of the brigade as senior colonel. The regiment brought 488 men to the field, losing 42 killed, 151 wounded and 59 missing.

When the 11th Corps reached Gettysburg on July 1, the regiment along with its 2nd Division was held in reserve on Cemetery Hill while the rest of the corps formed for battle north of town. When that battle line began to collapse in the afternoon the regiment and its brigade were marched through town and formed on the north side of Gettysburg to cover the retreat.

It turned into disaster. The 134th New York held the right flank of the brigade, and lost over half its strength in a few minutes when assaulted and overwhelmed by Confederates of Hoke’s and Hays’ Brigades.

The survivors retreated through town and reformed on Cemetery Hill, which they defended during the attack on the evening of July 2nd and during the artillery barrage which preceded Pickett’s Charge.

Lieutenants Henry Palmer and Lucius Mead and 57 enlisted men were killed or mortally wounded, Captains Otis Guffin and William Mickle and 130 enlisted men were wounded, and Lieutenant John Kennedy and 57 enlisted men were captured. Lt. Colonel Jackson was captured during the retreat through town, but escaped and rejoined the regiment.

Two Superb Gettysburg-related letters —the first a letter of an 18-year-old 134th New York Private written in May 1863, the second a poignant letter describing his wounding in the July 1st “Brickyard Fight” at Gettysburg, which doomed him to eventual death in Philadelphia’s Satterlee Hospital two and a half months later. Invites further research. In protective sleeve.  [jp/ld]

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