CW DIARY AND CDV OF PRIVATE ALEMSON [ALANSON] WELSHER, 8th NEW YORK HEAVY ARTILLERY - WOUNDED IN ACTION AT REAMS STATION VA IN 1864

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Item Code: 534-28

POCKET DIARY FOR 1865. Published Annually For The Trade, 1865. Front eps owner inscription, in pencil: “Alemson Welsher/ Co. D 8th N.Y./H. Arty/ 2nd Brig 2nd D./ 2nd Army Corps” (Repeated in rear eps). Thin black lea. cover, 2.875 X 6”, three dated entries per page. Penciled entries, brief and terse, run from February 27 to July 14. Overall condition, VG plus. (2) Carte de Visite—presents an oval frontal bust image of young soldier in kepi and frock coat, with paper wreath bordering. Image clear and clean. Overall VG & attractive.

Alemson (aka Alanson) Sears Welsher, born in 1846, enlisted at age 18, mustering as a private in Co. “D”, New York 8th Heavy Artillery, 12/31/1863. He is listed as wounded in action at Reams Station, VA, 8/25/1864. His regiment mustered out 6/5/1865, with recruits transferred to other NY Heavy Arty. Regiments. In his diary, Welsher records his mustering out date—“Paid off & mustered out. Went down to New York City”—as 7/9/1865.

Welsher’s the 8th New York Heavy Arty. entered service in August 1862, serving in the Washington and Baltimore defenses through February 1864 before being converted to infantry and transferred to the Army of Potomac 2nd Corps under Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock. In U.S/Grant’s 1864 “Overland Campaign” to come--in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor-- this green, inexperienced regiment would sustain, along with other converted Artillery regiments, the highest fatality rates in U.S. Military history During service, the 8th New York Heavy lost 361 killed and mortally wounded and by disease for total of 663.

Though most regimental casualties occurred in 1864, Welsher’s 1865 diary remains of interest, especially entries from the closing Appomattox phase. To wit:

March 30th—“Moved forward and occupied the next line of the rebel works. Rained most of the time. Today threw up a new line of works.

April 2nd—“Moved forward occupied the rebel posts. Captured 8 pieces of artillery and several prisoners. Charged the rebs and drove them out of their works. Marched up in rear of reb works. Marched to the South Side RR and then marched back towards Petersburg turned round marched toward Wells church. Our Brig. Detailed to guard wagon trains.

April 7—Crossed High Bridge on the Rappahannock. Had Skirmish with the Rebs. Capt Farmville, Gen. Smyth killed.

April 9—Marched all day til night. Gen Lee surrendered his army to Gen. Meade.

April 16—Heard news of the President’s death… Dress parade on guard at the Regimental HD Qrs

April 19—Went over to Sixth Corps with Spencer saw Pat Flaherty President et Lincoln buried.

And so on, interse brief entries, to his 7/9/1865 mustering out entry.

Welsher died in 1921 at the age of 75, and is buried in Lakeside Cemetery in Port Huron, St. Clair County, MI.

Welsher’s brief diary and carte de visite make a fine memento of a young soldier of the 8th New York “Heavy Arty,”a unit converted into “fodder” infantry, with horrendous casualties, during Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign, which 18 year-old Alemson Welsher managed to survive.

Accompanied by a brief of amount of research material.  [jp]

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