August 2013 Auction Ends Thursday, August 29th, 5pm Pacific


Search By:
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 8/29/2013
Lot of 56 Civil War autograph letters by Union soldier Charles Chase of the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry. Letters, 49 signed and 7 unsigned are addressed to his family members and contain the young Boston store clerk-turned soldier's comprehensive accounts of his regiment's engagements, including the Battles of Kinston, White Hall, Wren's Mills, Arrowfield Church, Bermuda Hundred and Drewry's Bluff. Lot covers Chase's entire period of service to the Union from a few months prior to his enlistment at age 21 on 4 August 1862, through his death in the notoriously bloody and sadly futile Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia on 3 June 1864. He signs nearly all of the letters, ''Charles'', occasionally signing ''Charlie'', ''C.C.'' or his full name ''Charles Chase''. Fascinating lot includes heavy battle content including his reports of soldiers lost to friendly fire at White Hall, drunk and under-qualified army surgeons, his opinion that General David Hunter acted a tyrant at the poorly supplied and reptile-infested St. Helena Island, candid disclosure of his complicated sentiments on race relations, and coverage of his two stints in the hospital. The week after fighting in the Battles of Kinston and White Hall, he writes, ''...Before receiving this you will have learned of the recent battles in NC, I was in two of them, the bullets flew thick and fast but I was spared. We fought three battles and had two smart skirmishes and drove the enemy every time. The battle of White Hall was one of the most severe ones ever fought in NC, it was short but severe, the 23rd lost ten or twelve killed and between sixty and seventy wounded...'' In a letter written the following week, he reminisces in greater detail about White Hall, ''...twice within a month have I been where the lead and iron flew thick and fast and I came out without a scratch...We have just returned from a successful expedition, Dec. 11th about 15000 men left this place and moved in the direction of Hinston, the 12th, we had a slight engagement capturing one gun. Sunday morning Dec. 14th, found us in the rear of Hinston, the Rebels expected us by the river road and had strong batteries and long rifle-pits ready to receive us. By getting into the rear of the town we escaped many of the batteries but must fight our way through an almost impossible swamp mud and water two feet deep, much of the way and the vines and brush quite thick. The battle opened on a fair Sabbath morning at 10 o'clock, the 23d was not in the advance but were soon ordered forward to support the 85th Penn., this Regt. formed the left flank of our army and was in the swamp. We filed in and formed in line of battle a few [illegible] in the rear of the 85th, when their ammunition was exhausted we were to take their places, as soon as we were formed we were ordered to lie down, we were just in the edge of the swamp, the water stood in pools. The 85th was with Gen. McClellan and we expected they would stand like a stone wall but soon we learned that they had many cowards in their ranks, our officers had all they could do to drive back the shirkers. The bullets came in showers but just a little too high, they went over our heads and the shells the same. A part of the 85th stood their ground well and by their steady fire slowly drove the enemy back, we followed after through the mud and water, it was above my knees. On our right there was heavy firing but it was evident that we were gaining ground all along the lines. Our artillery could not advance through the swamp but was posted on a slight hill in our rear and from that point poured in the shells. On we all went and soon gained the open ground and rushed forward after the flying foe, we captured about 600 of them and 10 guns. The 23rd though not engaged was under fire as much as any Regt. on the field and had not the Rebels made a slight mistake our loss would have been heavy, as it was it was light. We remained in Hinston but one night, again moved in the direction of Goldsboro Tuesday the 16th we fought a battle at a place called White Hall. The engagement was brought on by the Rebels. The road we must pass over ran near a stream and through the edge of the woods. The Rebels were posted on the opposite side of the river behind log works while their sharp shooters were in the trees. Their position was a strong one, we could not cross the river to get a fair chance at them. The 23rd formed the right of our line of battle, we were posted on one bank of the river and the Rebels on the other, We at once went to work, For two hours we were under a galling fire from both friend and foe - a blunder - In our rear on a small hill was posted one of our batteries and it was throwing percussion shell through the woods and over our heads, many of them hit the tops of the trees and of course at once exploded, many were wounded in this way, an officer was sent to the rear to have either the batteries or the Regt. changed but it was some time before anything was done. The trees protected us somewhat from the Rebel fire but many were hit, one near me on the right was mortally wounded, another had a shot through the arm & leg, clothes were torn, gun stocks splintered and many other narrow escapes, I had the dirt thrown in my face once, The 23rd was under fire just two hours and lost 69 in killed and wounded...But I have not stated how the battle of White Hall ended. At the end of four hours we had silenced the enemy. Again we moved forward, the next day our advance neared the railroad and bridge near Goldsboro, At about 10 o'clock the battle again opened, the 23rd being rear guard that day did not participate in the engagement, it was not a very severe one, soon we drove them and destroyed the railroad and bridge, I was ahead of my Regt. and saw the battle. As soon as it was over the main part of the army turned back for Newbern, while a small part of the army was resting near the battle ground the Rebels came down and attempted to capture one of our batteries, they were driven back with great loss, This was our last engagement...One of the best meals I ate on the march consisted of raw pork, raw potatoes and sour molasses...'' Accompanied by a thoughtful letter sent to him from his sister Abbie, one from his brother Roscoe and three handwritten sympathy letters sent to his family after his death. Letters are very good to near fine overall, with expected toning and creasing and some showing fading to ink. 7 of the 56 autograph letters by Chase are missing the last page and therefore the signature, and 4 are missing the first page and therefore the date and recipient's name. A harrowing account of half a dozen battles by a Union man who made the ultimate sacrifice.
50+ Letters by Charles Chase of the 23rd MA -- ''...galling fire from both friend and foe - a blunder...many were hit...mortally wounded...gun stocks splintered...dirt thrown in my face...''
50+ Letters by Charles Chase of the 23rd MA -- ''...galling fire from both friend and foe - a blunder...many were hit...mortally wounded...gun stocks splintered...dirt thrown in my face...''
Click above for larger image.
Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $2,500
Final prices include buyers premium.:
Number Bids: 4
Auction closed on Thursday, August 29, 2013.
Email A Friend
Ask a Question
Have One To Sell

Auction Notepad


You may add/edit a note for this item or view the notepad:  

Submit    Delete     View all notepad items