MARCH 1862 UNION SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE HENRY L. COOLEY, CO. “C”, 2ND VERMONT INFANTRY [GETTYSBURG REGIMENT]

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Item Code: 2021-87

Dated “Camp Lincon, VA, Mar __ 1862. Addressed to “Dear Father”. 4 pp. in slightly faded pencil on lined paper, 5” x 8. Exhibits fold-marks, else VG & entirely legible.

Henry Cooley was a resident of Brattleboro, Vermont, mustered as a private into Co. “C”,  2nd Vermont Infantry, 6/21/1861, who  died of disease, 1/11/ 1863. His 2nd Vermont was mustered in Burlington in June 1861 and  following  the first Battle of Bull Run fought in nearly all  major battles of the Army of the Potomac  [including Gettysburg, where it was engaged in repelling Picket’s Charge]. Mustered out July 15, 1865, the 2nd VT lost during service 224 men killed or mortally wounded and 175 by disease for a total of 399.

In this haunting  letter Private Cooley implores his father not to enlist while assuring him that he himself will be alright ( who will die of disease in less than a year).  As follows:

“I hope you do not think of enlisting. Albert had a letter  it said you talked very strong of it. You will sorry if you do. You cannot stand it. Only the youngest and healthiest of our Regt. are with us now.  20 men who started in our company have died or been discharged the past year. Sometimes we get no sleep for 3 or four days and work night and day. Some times we have lived on five crackers a day for a week to a time. Some days we have nothing but fresh meat to eat and it is raining half of the time here.

If you are sick you are not supposed to know it and you are not to say a word but go til you fall down. I don’t want you should enlist if you hav’t. Don’t want you to go with them any further. They cannot hold you til you are sware in. Our regiment are most of them sick now. You must not worry about me. I am alright yet.

We are going to fight tomorrow. We Start with 60 rounds of cartridges. There is a grave here they burried 600 rebels in after the fight the other day…Why don’t Mother write… She has not wrote for a long time…”

A powerful, haunting letter from a disease-doomed private of the 2nd Vermont Infantry. In protective sleeve. [JP] [ph:L]

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