UNIDENTIFIED 1863 UNION SOLDIER LETTER - UNKNOWN HEAVY ARTILLERY REGT

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Dated “Washington DC / September 15, 1863.” Addressed to “Cousin Lee.” 3 pp.  in faded ink on lined  paper, 5” x  8.  Exhibit fold-marks & touches of foxing. Else Good-plus.

This letter from Washington DC mentions no regiment, but from the duty described, its writer is obviously serving in one of the eastern “Heavy Artillery” regiments based in the Washington defenses. In the spring of 1864, these regiments would be recycled as infantry and thrown into Grant’s “Overland” summer offensive in his drive toward Richmond. Coming off their light Washington-based duty, most of the old “Heavy” units would suffer extremely high casualties, some of the heaviest of any Union regiments during the war. This letter is of interest in its description of the light, easy duty these units had in Washington prior to their 1864 blooding. Its author well knows how easy his service has been and wants it to stay that way

“I am aware that your father has endured much hardship in his short term of service, all have, that have  been in front with the active part of the army. I know nothing (comparatively) of the hardships of a soldier. My regiment has been kept around the defenses of Washington where an easy access could be had at all times to market. We never had any hardtack (dry crackers) sent out to our regiment but the best of bread we have had in abundance. I have served two years and have not done any duty with my regiment, such as drill and guard duty. I have been fortunate to be detailed in some business department since I enlisted. I hope I may never have to endure any additional hardship during the rest of my service.” Signed “Cousin S. H. H. [?]”.

Whether this unidentified soldier clerk was able to remain detailed to “some business department” when his regiment was sent to the front is impossible to say.  In a protective sleeve. [JP/LD]  [ph:L]

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