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32nd Massachusetts Lot Of 38 Civil War Letters For Sale
Expansive collection of 38 Civil War letters, with 18 written to Colonel Francis Jewett Parker of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, and 20 written by Parker himself, a very articulate chronicler of the war. A wealthy Bostonian, Parker mustered into the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry on 9 December 1861 becoming the first colonel of the regiment, which was part of Fox's 300 Fighting Regiments. Correspondence dates from 7 December 1860 to 21 November 1862 with some of the earlier letters being a back-and-forth between Parker and Governor Andrew regarding his military ranking. At first, Parker declined an appointment he deemed beneath him though by late 1861, eager to fight, Parker apparently swallowed his pride and accepted a battalion with Major's rank. That winter and spring he commanded six companies at Fort Warren, remaining until May 1862, when he was attached to the Military District of Washington. Parker describes his eyewitness accounts to his wife: (1) In a 7 July 1862 letter after the Battle of Malvern Hill, he describes the scene before him: ''...War is not a pretty thing to look at from this aspect. Mud & dust alternate. Wounded men, dead mules, filth, shouting wagoners, galloping orderlies, swearing men- are the staple ornaments of the camp limits. The woods are being rapidly, you would wonder to see how rapidly, thinned and consumed by the countless fires and when a calm evening occurs the smoke hangs like a fog over the whole country which we occupy. The James is a noble river here very wide and its banks finger with trees & shrubs. Just now it seem also a crop of gun boats which occasionally thump out big guns & loud broadsides...I hear that it was reported at Fort Warren that the 32nd went from the boat into the fight and was all cut up. Don't believe stories about being cut up. They are generally excuses for the regiment moving away. One next in which couldn't find but 250 men the day we arrived here 700 now. The losses in the late battles were heavy but nothing like what were first reported. I fear principally now that the rebels will fortify & close the James River behind us...'' (2) 12 July 1862 letter with excellent and vivid battlefield content: ''...Upon our arrival we were hurried into position with the reserve upon ground where the shells of the enemy had fallen but an hour before and our path to that ground was through a mob of demoralized soldiers -- wounded, hungry, and cowardly. Men cried out tauntingly at us that we should be used up before night -- that we didn't know what we had got into & men from other regiments enquired 'hows your patriotism now.' The clay mud was actually knee deep -- men lost their boots & stockings in the mid and could not find them...The stories about regiments being cut up are hums. The 22d reputed cut to pieces lost only one officer killed. The 1st Mass who reported only 175 men left has 800 upon its rolls!...On two points the army is unanimous: all want to go home and all curse the abolitionists. The Rebs bother us a little by firing into the transports on the river, but otherwise we hear little of them...'' (3) 23 September 1862 letter describing a lull in fighting: ''...Nobody seems to be doing anything since our people got driven into the Potomac the other day on the Virginia side while my regiment stood doing nothing on the Maryland side. With all this campaigning I am getting to be inexpressibly dirty and hard looking -- I wouldn't speak to myself if I met myself in the street and if you could see me, you would be glad I was gone...'' (4) 25 October 1862 letter mentions Burnside and McClellan's headquarters: ''...Of course people are getting uneasy about the army not moving. I reckon that they would be more uneasy if it did. We can go into Virginia & march up the Shenandoah Valley easy enough losing 15 or 20000 of the people's brothers & sons & leaving Stuart's Cavalry at liberty to forage anywhere in Pennsylvania...Coming back to shorten the route I came over a ridge of hills and from the summit looked down upon the camps of Sumner & Burnside and McClellan headquarters, the reserve artillery & the huge army trains. It was a beautiful view apart from its warlike aspect...'' (5) 21 November 1862 letter sums up his frustrations: ''...We have been marching as slowly as in McClellan...I have brought up in the mud about 7 miles from Falmont...I have still 200 men absent sick and if the attempt is made to carry on a winter campaign there won't be many left by the spring...I am heartily sick of the policy of the government & don't care a great deal which side wins now. The army is totally disgusted & cares no more about patriotism than you do...'' Soon after this letter was written, Parker resigned his commission not long after the Battle of Fredericksburg on 27 December 1862. Of the 18 letters written to Parker, many are from men in his company requesting his help in moving to active duty. Other letters are from various military leaders, including Governor Andrew and Sgt. John Hirsch. Overall, very good condition.
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32nd Massachusetts Lot Of 38 Civil War Letters: $15,000