WARTIME DIARY, PHOTOGRAPHS AND DOCUMENTS OF PRIVATE CHARLES E. LAMB, 23TH CONNECTICUT VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

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Item Code: 1086-01

The first item is a leather-bound diary, dark green in color, chronicling Charles’ service from September 1862 to October 1863 in 114 written pages.  The setting begins in Waterbury, Connecticut at the family store, and follows Charles’ journey into camp, sailing to Louisiana, campaign in southern Louisiana, defense of New Orleans and travel home through Vicksburg and Memphis and back to work at the family store in Connecticut.  Highlights of the entries include the June 1863 battle of La Fourche Crossing which is consistent with Major Miller’s account below; Charles describes destruction of artillery and lying upon arms after the La Fourche battle, when a report of 7,000 Confederates advancing resulted in the Union forces withdrawal to New Orleans.  There are many humorous and human-interest anecdotes of camp, presentation of the regimental colors, sailing to New Orleans, alligator hunting, scouting expeditions and guard duty.  Charles wrote of observing an African-American wedding and enlistment of 2,000 Colored troops on the 4th of July, as well as the news of Vicksburg’s capture.  Also of interest is his description of Union ironclad monitor support to the troops at Morgan’s Bend in August 1863.  Charles was a humorous and capable writer.  His descriptions of a soldier’s life as witness to history in the Civil War’s southwestern theater is a keen first hand account for Civil War historians and collectors of present and future generations.

Charles’ grandson prepared a type-written transcript of the diary, to include an index of persons and places referenced in the volume.  He also included a brief family history, stating that the Lambs are direct descendants of William Brewster who landed at Plymouth, Massachusetts with the Mayflower in 1620.

The writing in the original diary is in pencil, and is clear and legible.  The leather surface has small surface scuffs and creases but is overall very supple with no flaking.  Pages are crisp and intact to the binding.

The next two items are photographs.  The first is a CDV of a full-standing Charles Lamb in uniform (a 4-button sack coat and forage cap).  Insignia is faintly visible on the cap.  The image shows some fading, as well as creases along the bottom half.  Staining is evident in the top left corner and a 1/16 by 1/16 section worn from the top right corner.  The backmark is Hunt’s Photographic Gallery of New Haven, CT.  Pencil inscription is “Charles E. Lamb – Civil War.”  Charles’s diary entry on October 29th 1862 notes that he had “some pictures taken in uniform.”  The second photograph is a 1/6 plate tintype of an outdoor camp scene.  Two armed and uniformed soldiers are standing to the front.  The soldier at left appears to be Charles, based on comparison to the CDV.  There are three men standing behind; one appears to be a civilian (at far left) and the two at back right appear to be soldiers.  The soldiers to the front are wearing their full accoutrements, packs, canteens and carrying rifles with fixed bayonets.  A log cabin, possibly barracks, spans the background.

The third set of items are Charles’ documents.  The first of which is a pass dated June 15th, 1863 for Charles to travel from La Fourche to Bayou Beouf.  The second document is dated July 30th, 1863 and appoints Charles as postmaster for his own regiment and for the 176th New York Infantry.  It is signed by Major M. Morgan Jr. and Lieutenant N. J. West, adjutant.  The third document is a pass, signed by regimental adjutant Lieutenant West which grants Charles passage to and from New Orleans and Bonnet Carre for his duties as unit postmaster.  The fourth document is Charles’ eagle mast discharge paper.  For reason of expiration of his term of service, Charles was discharged at New Haven, CT on August 21st, 1863.  He is described as 19 years of age, a clerk by profession (consistent with his duties at the family store described in the diary), and standing five feet six inches tall.  It is signed by mustering officer Lieutenant Allyn (26th CT Infantry) and Lieutenant George Tucker of the 23rd CT.  The discharge has a full tear down the center, reinforced by scotch tape on the backside.  Printing and ink writing are bold and legible.

The 23rd Connecticut Infantry, a 9-month unit, was assigned to Weitzel’s Brigade, XIX Corps, Department of the Gulf, where they fought Confederate Major General Dick Taylor’s (son of Pres. Zachary Taylor) command in southern Louisiana and the defense of New Orleans.  A battalion-sized force of the regiment was shipwrecked in the Bahamas enroute to Louisiana.  According to Major David Miller of the 23rd CT, the regiment distinguished itself at La Fourche Crossing in June 1863, where the Confederate dead numbered 108 and prisoners numbered 40.  The diary and documents confirm that Charles was present at this battle.

Photocopies of two cabinet cards of Charles are included.  They were likely taken c. 1900 in Waterbury, CT.

An excellent grouping, to include the coveted wartime diary, of special interest to the historian, researcher and collector.  [jc]

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