1864 UNION SOLDIER LETTER - BATTLE OF OLUSTEE, FL; REUBEN T. WELLS, CO. “E”, 115TH NEW YORK INFANTRY

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Item Code: 1094-32

Dated “Jacksonville, Fla. Dated “March 3, 1864.” Addressed to wife. 3pp. in ink on unlined paper, 7.5 x 9.75. Exhibits fold-marks, else VG and entirely legible.

Twenty seven year-old Reuben T. Wells enlisted as a private in Co. “E” 115th New York Infantry, 8/13/1864. Captured at Harper’s Ferry with his regiment, 9/15/1862, he was paroled the next day, and was mustered out with his regiment at Raleigh, N.C., 6/17/1865.

After their capture at Harper’s Ferry, during the Antietam Campaign, occurring only a month after entering service, the 115th New York was paroled to Camp Douglas. Re-entering service in November 1862, they were dispatched to the southeastern theater, to the Carolinas and Florida. In the summer of 1864 they returned to Virginia, attached to the Army of the James, and engaged at Bermuda Hundred and Cold Harbor, taking part in the occupation of Wilmington, before joining in the Carolinas Campaign and the occupation of Raleigh, and were present at the Bennett House for Joe Johnston’s surrender to General Sherman. During service the unit lost 135 killed and mortally wounded and 188 by disease for a total of 323.

Text—“Dear wife…it is with much pleasure that I take this opportunity of riting  a few lines two inform you that I am well and hope this will find you the same. The weather is and pleasant our cavalry had a fite with the rebs 27th. Our loss was one man killed and five wounded the rebs are within 8 miles of us and they dar not come any further. Our cavalry tryedtwo draw them with one piece of artillery and cut the rebs badlydiserters come in every day and ____the rebs had a heavy ____ but they dar not abvance far from the gunboats. We have this place well fortified. I suppose you have sene in the papers about our fite well you believe about half you hear. I see in ten New York papers that our brigade charged on Cauldin Station and captured prisoners. Wee made now [no charge] charge. We captured no  prisoners for the rebs left long before we got there and our cavalry was in advance of us some four ours [hours] march. The cavalry and mounted infantry has taken all of the prisoners and canon except onjackets batry. Our men found in the woods buy the river where the rebs burnt up a scooner of cotton. Wee are wating for the rebs but now rebs fore than 8 miles. We lay hear in the sand and dirt . Our tents has not come yet from Hilton Head. I am now awating for George groves two come them socks and sirts. I have just bought me a par of boots.
They cost me seven dollars. They was then two one of our boys our fite the 20 [th] was so ahard fought batal for we lost one half of our men. I can’t tell much about it with the pen but if we get home I can you all the bowls flow so thick that it seemed most impossiboul for any one two escape unhurt but I never got a scratch. Well there was good reason for I was in the rear with the wagon train but the bawls was plenty there and now and them a shell and sum grape shot. I expected not two see any of our boys again. It is shame on the genrial [general] that led us in not noing [knowing] what he was doing nor where he was going. They never tired to find the enemy’s srenght nor posishen [position] but rushed in regardless of all danger. The rebs made a trap for us and got us in it and so we got licked and badly two. This is a dam poor country. I wouldn’t give 15 cents for the hoal state. / Now more Good buy. Rite soon direct ttwo Hilton head / Yours now and forever / R.T. Wells / Two his dear and belovin wife.”

Superb letter w/considerable content concerning the Battle of Olustee [Feb. 20. 1864].  Though only half-literate, Private Well tells a good tale.  [JP]  [ph:L]

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