JULY 1861 UNION SOLDIER LETTER—PRIVATE HENRY L. COOLEY, CO. “C”, 2ND VERMONT INFANTRY [GETTYSBURG REGIMENT]

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Item Code: 2021-94

Dated “Alexandria, Va, July 28th, 1861.” Addressed to parents. 3 pp. in ink on unlined paper w/colored patriotic vignette in left upper corner. Exhibits fold-marks else VG.

Henry Cooley was a resident of Brattleboro Vermont who enlisted and was mustered as a private into Co. “C”, 2nd Vermont Infantry. He died of disease, 1/11/ 1863. This letter to his parents was written a week after the Battle of Bull Run, and contains graphic battle descriptions of the Union disaster. Text:

“Dear Parents…I though I would write a few lines to let you know that I am well. I should have wrote before but have not had anything to write with. I suppose you have heard of the fight we had with the rebels. It was a pretty hard fight, we lost a good many men. I don’t know how many there was but about 30 thousand of our men and there was 90 thousand of the rebels. We drove them 2 miles into some woods. We stood on a side hill when the ammunition for our batteries gave out and we do nothing.

The three main regts. and ours was the last to leave the field. We was badly cut to pieces. There is 9 men missing in our company now. Philander and Albert are among them. I am the only one from Vernon now. Our Capt. Is wounded and quite a number of the men they are here. I did not leave the field until our flag did. I stood by the side of the flag all the time after the guard was shot down. We lost everything we had, blankets, provisions and all, some of the men threw away their guns and coats so that they could go faster. I shall hold on to mine as long I can stand. We was whipped before we saw the enemy.

We started at half past one that morning. It was 18 or 20 miles to the fight. The last six miles we went in less than an hour. Some of the men was almost dead. I never felt so bad in my life. I could hardly step. When we had retreated about 10 miles they tried to cut us off they charged on us 200 of their black horse cavalry came at us. They are the best mounted men in the whole south. We waited until they got most to us before we fired. There was but six of them went back, before the fight there was a whole Regt. of them but there is but 200 of them left. We have got to fight the ground all over again.

Please write when you get this your son.”

The 2nd Vermont was mustered in Burlington in June 1861. After the Battle of Bull run in July 1861, the 2nd Vermont fought in nearly all the major battles of the Army of the Potomac and was present at Gettysburg. Mustered out July 15, 1865, the Regiment lost during service 224 men killed or mortally wounded and 175 by disease for a total of 399.

Highly collectible. Excellent First Bull Run battle letter, graphic account from a member of the 2nd Vermont. In protective sleeve.  [JP] [ph:L]

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