Lot of 115 Civil War Letters by an Officer 26th Indiana
Lot of 115 Civil War Letters by an Officer 26th Indiana:
Lot of 115 letters written by Jasper L. Atkinson during his Civil War enlistment in the U.S. Army, with 84 of the letters penned during the war itself. A 2nd Lieutenant in the 26th Indiana Infantry, Atkinson writes about his participation in the siege and taking of Vicksburg, as well as him breaking out a Rebel prison after the Battle of Fordoche Bridge, and other fighting such as the First Battle of Newtonia and the Battle of Spanish Fort. Atkinson enlisted on 30 August 1861 and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1864 shortly after he enlisted for another 3-year term. All his letters are to his penpal lady friend, who would become his wife over the course of their correspondence.
He writes of the Siege of Vicksburg in several letters in June and July 1863, where the 26th Indiana was one of the first to "scale the Rebel work" after the Confederates surrendered. He writes on 5 July 1863 from Vicksburg, "…I am well and the survivor of another awful and bloody battle…You doubtless are aware that we are at Vicksburg. We arrived here on the 10 of June and we lay under a tremendous fire from the enemy for 20 days and yesterday which was the fourth of July. At 10 o'clock the rebels announced to us their surrended and I assure you it was cordially received by us. Our regt. Was the 2nd to scale the rebel work around Vicksburg and to go up and possess the hard earned land. We captured about thirty-two thousand prisoners, between 60 and 80 thousand stand of small arms and a great number of artillery, horses, mules, wagons, and many other valuables…This has been the most important victory of the war…The battle lasted her 44 days…"
Earlier in June he writes of the Siege, "…A great battle is in progress here and has been for some time. Vicksburgh is sure to fall soon. We have a force here of about two hundred thousand. We have the city of Vicksburgh entirely surrounded. We have now been here eight day and since that time there has not been ten mintues at a time but what there was either the roar of artillery or musketry to be heard. On the 16th we fought all day but we had none of our boys killed, but several wounded. It is awful hot here and we have very poor water to use and oweing to this we cannot expect good health to last very long…"
On 18 December 1863, Atkinson writes to Catharine from Natchez, Mississippi after a daring escape from a Confederate prison after he was captured at the Battle of Fordoche Bridge. Almost all the Union troops were captured in the Battle, who were ultimately transferred to the Camp Ford prison in Tyler, TX. Atkinson, however, risked his life before he was transferred, writing, "…I thank god that after a prohibition of many long and sleepless nights of imprisonment. I was taken prisoner on the 29 day of last September at the Battle of Bayou Fordouch near the Mississippi River in Louisiana about 200 miles above Neworleans. I was immediately marched to Alexandria, VA where I was kept in close confinement until the 6 of this month. I then resolved to release my self or die a trying. On the night of the 6th I broke out of the rebel prison. They tried to shoot me, but I made good my escape and after five days and six nights marching, I arrived at this place. I traveled all the way through the woods and had nothing to eat. For four days and nights the rebels pursued me closely, but could not catch me. I arrived here last Sunday the 12th. A part of my company are prisoners at Tyler in Texas and I would of had to gone there had I of been able to travel but I was taken sick about the time we got to Alexandria so they were obliged to leave me there. I will not pretend to describe to you what I suffered in Rebeldom…I have not seen one of my company since the sixth of last October, neither do I know where any of them are, only those who are still prisoners, but I expect they are at New Orleans or at least there is where they were when I last heard from them…"
He eventually makes his way back to his regiment, writing in 1864 of being "fired into by a squad of gurrillas" as well as being near General Grant's headquarters at the beginning of the Siege of Petersburg, with Grant "sure of taking Richmond as he lived". At the very end of the war, Atkinson fought at the Battle of Spanish Fort, just days before General Lee surrendered. He writes from Mobile, AL on 30 March 1865, "…We arrived here on the 26th of the present month and engaged the rebels at once. We have laid siege to extensive rebel fortification just across the bay from Mobile City. Our force here is perhaps 40,000. What the no of the rebels is I can't tell but they are strong and are as well fortified as they were at Vicksburg, Miss. There has not been a minute for the past four days but what firing could be heard around the line somewhere both cannon and musketry. Our regt is with gun shot of the rebel works. None of my co has been hurt yet, but several of the regiment. We may siege them some time before we can effect a capture but the roaring of artillery and musketry is so annoying that I cannot write…"
On 4 April he continues, "…we are amidst terrible battleing, equally as annoying as it was at Vicksburg, Miss. in '63. This is the 9 day of the siege and as yet our loss has been very light considering the no. engaged. This evening at 5 o'clock we opened on the rebel forts with about 100 pieces of heavy artillery. It was music for certain. We thus bombarded them for two hours. We were so close that the rebs could not fire a piece. There has not been 10 minutes at a time since we laid siege here, but what the firing of guns could be heard along the line, but we are well fortified as well as the rebs. This siege may be lengthy and we may soon take them in, I can't tell…" He continues on 11 April, apparently not knowing the surrender has been signed: "…We laid siege to a range of Rebel fortifications on the east bank of Mobile Bay and opposite Mobile City March 27, '65 and was so engaged until about midnight of April 8, '65. When we charged the whole works and carried them with but little loss on our part. We here got a large amount of ordnance & stores and near 1000 prisoners. April 9 '65 We (16 & 13) Army Corps moved to the right and rear of Mobile City reinforced Gen. Steel who had the rebels surrounded at Blakely. This place is on the eastbank of the Ala river on the right of the 9, Gen. Steel's army, a part of the 13 & 16 Corps made a grand charge on the Blakely fortifications and successfully carried them, but our loss was greater than it was on the charge of the Spanish range on the 8. We here captured 1 Major General, 3 Brigadiers, several Colonels, Capts and Lieut's and over 4000 enlisted men and a great quantity of artillery, small arms and ammunition. Our army now numbers about 60000 and we are going for the Rebel forts and Mobile City like hungry boys for potatoe pairings. Our loss thus far has been small considering the no engaged. None of my company have been hurt as yet…"
In many of Atkinson's letters, he writes with a literary, even poetic flair. On his one-year enlistment anniversary, he writes, "The earth has performed an other annual revolution since my first arrival upon Missouri soil one year ago to day. We ferried the river at St. Louis which landed us upon a tyrannical soil. Little did we then anticipate so lengthy a rebellion. Autumn has reappeared again and soon flowers will fade and the leafy bowers of the forest. Oak will cease to wave and soon will be hushed the sweet music of the most comical birds and still we are in a land where tyranny is measurable upheld and in this you will find that I am not yet discouraged although things look the most gloomy of any time since the rebellion arose. We have a vast army to contend with. One which is noted for its treacheries, desperadoes and the most tyrannical insinuations?…We are willing to suffer any manner of death before Jackson and his force shall enter our northern homes…"
With much more engaging content, such as Atkinson's opinion about General Sherman's March to the Sea - "forcing terror to the heart of Rebeldom", his responsibility drilling his company for six hours a day, skirmishes and capturing Rebels, and managing "35 contrabands or negroes sent here to rebuild a portion of the fort" with details on the work. He also describes a drowning in the river of a fellow soldier, and being wounded in the hip during a skirmish. He recounts very hard marches without eating or sleeping, being accosted by guerillas, and seeing "the graves of over twelve hundred men" after a battle, as well as men who have died after various skirmishes. At one point he tells Catharine that people have been writing him, telling him that she wears a "Butternut" pin, which almost ends their relationship. Catherine's letters are also included in the lot. An excellent, large collection with legible handwriting in ink, many letters composed on patriotic stationery. With near complete transcriptions.We accept PayPal and Credit cards via Paypal. Please provide a daytime phone number to be used in case of any shipping difficulties. Customers are advised that they are responsible for payment of any international duties and/or taxes. California residents will be charged 9.5% for sales tax. Also, please note that shipping includes signature confirmation upon delivery, but not insurance. If you request insurance, let us know and we'll send a revised invoice. Thank you!
Lot of 115 Civil War Letters by an Officer 26th Indiana: