1861 UNION SOLDIER LETTER — PRIVATE HARMES L.[S.] NICHOLS, 11th CONNECTICUT INFANTRY

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Item Code: 2021-83

Dated “Dec. 22, 1861.” Addressed to “Dear friend.” 4 pp. in rough pencil on lined paper w/patriotic red—“YOUNG AMERICA”—vignette at the top, 5” x 8, exhibits fold-marks, else VG.

Harmes L. Nichols was a resident of Newtown, CT, who enlisted and was mustered as a private in Co. “G”, 11th Connecticut Infantry, 11/1/1861. He died on 8 /24/1862. Some online records record his middle as “S.”, and have a date of death of 8/15/62.  Nichols is buried in New Bern National Cemetery in New Bern, NC.

His unit, the 11th CT Infantry was organized in November 1861. Attached to the Burnside Expedition the regiment served in the Carolinas, was engaged at the March 1862 Battle of New Bern; Nichols perhaps was wounded in this action, given the location of his burial. Transferred back to the Virginia theater, the 11th took part in the Battles of Antietam and Fredericksburg, and later were attached to Burnside’s 18th Corps and were engaged at Bermuda Hundred and Drewry’s Bluff, and also at cold harbor and in the Siege of Petersburg. Later present through the Appomattox Campaign which closed the war, they were mustered out, December 21, 1865. During service they 148 men killed and mortally wounded and 177 by disease for a total of 325.

This letter was written while the 11th Connecticut was posted at Annapolis, MD, awaiting departure with the Burnside Expedition for the Carolinas. Private Nichols writes about the sea voyage down as follows:

“I now…write to let you know  that I am alive but we run a narrow chance. We had three shots fiard at us just as we got in to the oshion [ocean] one took effect but killed nor boddy. It knocked down three men and done some damage to the steemer the ball weighed twenty fore pounds. It delayed us five hours. We have not been off from the steemer in five days and night. Most of the boys had a hard time the first night and day but had a very pleasant time  coming up the Chesapeake Bay…

There is 15 ridgements hear now.. I have seen hanaford Tony horras gilbert frank Pain charls may and lots of boys I know.

If we go with Burnside we shall go in the corse of a weak. If not we shall be here two or three months.

I was on gard last night. There was one Lewtennant shot and one corporal by the gards by trying to fool them…you must excuse my writing..in one hand and then the other with twenty solgers in the tent…write as son as you git this.”

Though the spelling and handwriting are rough, a solid collectible from a Harmes L. Nichols of the 11th Connecticut preparing to head south with the 1862 Burnside Expedition. In protective sleeve, accompanied by brief amount of internet research material.   [JP/LD]  [ph:L]

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