UNION SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE EDWARD W. CURTIS, CO. “I”, 88TH ILLINOIS INFANTRY

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Item Code: 2021-108

Dated “Nashville Tenn. / Jan 14th/ 63”. Addressed to “Dearest Aunt.” 6 pp. in ink on lined paper, 5” x 8. Exhibits fold-marks, slight foxing of pages 5 & 6. Else VG & entirely legible.

Edward Curtis was a 25-year-old printer who enlisted in Chicago and was mustered into Co. “I”, 88th Illinois Infantry, 8/15/1862. He was mustered out, 6/16/1865 in Chattanooga, TN. His regiment was mustered in august 1862 and served exclusively in the Western theater, attached to the Armies of the Ohio and Cumberland. It participated in the Battles of  Perryville, Stones’ River,  Chattanooga, the Siege of Chattanooga, various battles of the Atlanta Campaign and the Battles of Franklin and Nashville. During service it lost 103 men killed and mortally wounded and 88 by disease for a total of 191.

In this letter, written a few days after the Battle of Stones river, Private Curtis recounts the recent battle while on guard duty near Nashville hile his regiment remains in the vicinity of Nashville. As follows:

“I still remain in camp at the edge of the city, but my regiment is in camp about three miles south of Murfreesboro and I may join it any day… There was fighting yesterday towards Murfreesboro where the rebels are attacking our wagon trains at every opportunity, and also down the river, where it is said they lost in the battle of “Stones River.” About 200 in killed, wounded and missing, and Co. I lost 7 including the orderly sergeant (killed) who will be missed by all more any other man in the company. Our regiment and division done nobly, from all I can learn, maintaining their position near the center of the right wing, until forced by an overwhelming force to fall back, with the loss of our brigadier-general Hill.

But one victory seems to me barren of much fruit as the enemy retired with almost all his arms and stores, and it is said that one victory was gained by a stratagem, the stragglers being employed in building campfires which the “rebs” took to be those of re-enforcements.  But I suppose that you know more of the particulars than I do for I can get much more news from outside papers than we get here.

…we have been five months in service but have not yet seen a cent of our wages, and there is no telling when we shall. I do not care if they will only give us enough to buy a little pepper or meal occasionally…”

Solid camp letter containing new from the Battle of Stones River by a private of the 88th Illinois. In protective sleeve. [JP]  [ph:L]

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