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Lot of 21 Civil War letters from four soldiers in the 74th Indiana Infantry, Co. K, with an extremely detailed and suspenseful letter by Colonel Thomas Morgan on the Battle of Jonesborough. Lot also includes one other letter by Morgan, plus 10 letters by William H. Cattell, 5 letters by 2nd Lieutenant John M. Jennings, and 4 letters by Corporal Benton L. Jennings.

Colonel Morgan's letter is dated 5 September 1864 from ''Camp Near Jonesborough GA'', with content on the fall of Atlanta as well as the Battle of Jonesborough. Letter reads in part, ''Thank heaven this campaign is at last closed. Atlanta is ours...We left our former camp where Lt. Col. Baker was killed and where I took command on the night of the 26th ult...On the 31st we moove again and in the evening halted, threw up other works, and put out skirmishers who advanced to the Macon R.R. but still found no enemy. On the first inst we commenced moveing again and after traveling about two miles, formed line of battle and mooved in that order about half a mile south, our left resting on the Macon R.R. at that distance and while emerging from a dence piece of woods, leaden hail flew thick around us. Here my horse became almost unmanageable and I concluded to dismount which all agree in saying saved my life for all the other mounted officers in the brig either was killed or had their horsed killed under them.

We soon reached a ravine in an open field which sheltered us. Here we rested a few moments and took our position for a charge. Soon the commands rang along the lines, fix bayonets. We knew now what was to do and then the command, forward. When we mooved steadily up the hill, four reg of us, the 10th KY, and 38th Ohio in front and the 14th Ohio & 74th in the rear. The 74th behind the 10th KY. After riseing over...the hill, the command was given, double quick. We all sprang forward with a shout, but here we met a deadly fire from the woods about sixty yds in our advance, the 10th faltered and numbers was wounded and all such that could hope for the rear.

The 74th seemed to hesitate, but at the command moved steadily forward. As we entered the woods and within twenty paces of their entrenchments they poured another volley that staggard the front lines entirely. The center of my command faltered. I sprang to them and told them that to stop there was death, to retreat was no better, it was only the work of the moment. When we mooved up, consolidated with the 10th, and in another instant was hand to hand with the flower of the rebel army.

Claburne' Div but cold steel, with the amount of desperation with which the 74th mooved was to much, but even here we found that our work was only half done for another line of works in the rear opened upon us again which had to be carried by the same process. I am sure that we captured more prisoners than we had men. My right was enfilated with grape and canister from a battery of four guns which we also captured. Our loss was severe which stops all rejoicing. Our best and bravest fell...for some reason I am spared while thousands have fallen...I am thankful to God that I am alive and that Atlanta is ours and the rebel army cut to pieces and disorganized. We have captured hundreds of prisoners here in hospitals, and yesterday we had a train of one hundred wagons to come in loaded with wounded rebels. Our job is well done...Tho's Morgan''.

In Morgan's other letter, dated 5 May 1864, he writes with immediacy at the start of the Atlanta Campaign: ''This evening finds us upon the eve of important events, hence my attempt to drop you a line. We are all ready for a move, haveing sent our baggage to day to Bridgeport Ala. So we are striped for the race. We are now connected with one of the Grandest Armies the world ever saw. McPherson haveing joined us in the night with the 13th, 16th, and 17th Corpse's. Hooker on his left 40 strong with one flank resting on the Chickamauga battle field and the other extending to Taylor's Ridge connecting with our right, that is the old 14th. We stand immeadiatly in front of Taylor's Gap. The 4th corpse came down yesterday under Howard and formed on the outside of the gap to our left and the 23rd joined them to day. Thomas' command numbers 78 muskets or effective men, twice the army we had at Chickamauga and our whole force is estimated at 740 besides cavalry and artillery. And now when the word comes forward, something will be done. We feel irresistable and if I mistake not the rebels find us so...''

Lot also includes ten letters by William H. Cattell, whose collection includes one beautiful, perhaps original, poem about the hardships of war, and also letters with detail of the Battles of Hartsville, Kennesaw Mountain and several hot skirmishes. In a letter dated 30 June 1864, Cattell writes of Kennesaw Mountain, where the regiment had several wounded, ''...Davises Division of our corps made a charge on the rebels works, but were repulsed with considerable loss. The 125th Illinois lost fifty killed. The brigade commander, colonel, and five company officers was killed. Our works and theirs are only a few yards apart. So close that they can throw a stone from one line of works to another. Our men advanced their lines last knight by filling barrels with dirt and rolling them up towards their works and then commence digging. The report is that they are going to keep digging till they can throw hand grenades into their works.''

In a letter dated 8 December 1862, he writes about the aftermath of the Battle of Hartsville, ''When we got up yesterday we heard cannon fireing at Hartsville nine miles from here. We was ordered to fall in, stacked our armes, got our breakfast and then started but we was to late. The rebels had surrounded killed and took them prisoners. There was between twelve and fifteen hundred of our men and three thousand rebels. They was Morgan's men. He was there him self. We got there in time to see the dead. There was some hard looking sights. They was shot in every shape...''

Other content includes an attack by Rebels, described in a 14 December 1862 letter, ''...The rebels attacked this place about a week ago. There was one regt the 31st Ohio that camped on the other side of the river. The rebels came in with a flag of pretending to want to go to town to get their famyles and gave them two days to surrender. That evening our men crossed the river and the next morning the rebels attacked it on three sides. They charged on the camp, but there was nobody there. They then planted a cannon and commenced throwing shells. Our men fired one round and the rebels left. There was two or three of our men wounded. The nigers said that that there was ten or twelve of them killed...'' In another letter dated 24 October 1863, Cattell writes, ''...There wasent any body killed in my company till after the battle [Chickamauga]. There was one killed on picket by the name of Jess Herne was shot in the mouth and killed dead. The pickets have quit shooting at each other. They are very friendly with each other now...''

Lot also includes five letters by 2nd Lieutenant John M. Jennings, a very literate and intelligent soldier with keen observations. In a letter dated 4 September 1862, Jennings writes, ''...We have in our camp about eighty slaves pressed into the service fortifying. There are a great many rumors in camp in regard to our being attacked soon. The people of Mumfordsville say some of them at least that we can't keep, but all being taken prisoners now. But I tell you before they take us there will be anxious for a fight. The most of us, some few are cowards. The first night were ordered out some two or three of Co. C of the 74 Indiana cried, they were so badly frightened...Last Sunday there was a prisoner brought to camp. He was hanged until he confessed. He said he was a Morgan spy, that he was to have $200 if he delivered to Morgan by sundown of that evening a map of our camp and if he did succeed in doing so, Morgan was to attack us that night. The prisoner belongs to Clark Co Indiana. He is now closely confined & handcuffed awaiting his trial...''

In another letter dated 29 December 1862, Jennings writes of the uncleanliness in the hospitals, ''...for the last three weeks I have been sick with the measles...There are a great many deaths occurring from measles averaging five or six a day in the hospital at this place. I think if I have staid in the hospital as they wanted me to, I would perhaps have been dead by this time, but while I am able to walk no hospital can hold me. Of all the places I ever saw a hospital is the worst. All the time I was there I could not speak above a whisper & not once did any of the nurses ask me if I wanted anything & once when I motioned one of them to me and told them I wanted to wash, he brought me a pan of water that five other dirty soldiers had washed in, some of which had the typhoid fever & some the measles. I told him I would wash in no such stuff & told him to bring me some clean water. In less than one hour from that time I bundled up and left that horrible place. We are encamped on a farm of 1900 acres the owner of which has 75 negroes & 250 mules & horses. We have burned most of his rails. He claims to be a Union man, but I don't like the appearances. Our camp is within 75 yards of his house. They had a big time thru Christmas night, a negro wedding & dance...''

On 10 June 1863, Jennings writes, ''...Our prospects for a battle are I think good. Yesterday our pickets were driven in by the enemy and quite warm skirmishing ensued for two or three hours in sight of our camp. I hope for something to do but the 'rebs' concluded to abscond after we had received reinforcements from Murfreesboro. I cant tell anything about how long we will remain here. Perhaps a month & perhaps not till morning. The soldiers life is a life of uncertainties & danger...You have no idea what horses as well as men have to undergo in the army...''

In Jennings' last letter, dated 28 October 1863, he writes of traversing a gauntlet of Rebel sharpshooters. In part, ''...[I am] waiting for an opportunity to go to the front. There is a supply train here which will leave for Chattanooga tomorrow. I will go with them...In order to get there we will have to travel sixty miles on the worst mud you ever saw. On mountains & through mud axel deep. There is a nearer route that is called the river route, but that road passes what is called the narrows: a narrow place in the river & on the opposite end of the river from the road, rebel sharpshooters are stationed & if a federal soldier shows himself he is sure to be shot, consequently, we are obliged to travel the longest route, and in this case the old adage 'the farthest way round is the shortest way there' is true. But if I could have got my baggage hauled before I found Capt Jacobs, I should have gone through the River route by passing the 'narrows' in the night time I could have gone safety through it...A great many of the soldiers feel very much displeased with the removal of Gen Rosy...The soldiers are all in good cheer...perfectly able to whip the whole Confederacy nevertheless they are living on less than half rations, the roads are so bad that provisions can not be hauled - I understand [?] Division is moving on Lookout Mountain, if so the R.R. will soon be finished through to Chattanooga & the men will have plenty to eat...J.M. Jennings''.

The last soldier in the grouping, Corporal Benton L. Jennings is the brother of John Jennings, and writes of his job as a bodyguard to one of the Generals. Some excerpts from his four letters include, ''...If the 'butternuts' have the impudence to assert what you say they have I would like to hear of their being driven to the center of Grand Prairie and fire being set to the grass on the outer edges and they compelled to stay there untill the last sympathizer was suffocated and the flesh burned from his bones...Tell Mrs. Morgan I would be sorry to hear that she was carrying a pistol to shoot anybody, but I think to do herself justice she should borrow one and point it at Mr. John Morgan if nothing more...'' and ''...I have been meditating upon a remark I accidentally overheard which in substance was this. These Drs. don't care a damn whether a man lives or dies, they get their wages whether they sustain their reputation or not..I received a letter from John yesterday stating that on the first they had a skirmish in sight of their camp but they were not engaged although they were called in line of battle. Our loss was one killed and one wounded...''

An excellent lot of letters from a close knit group of soldiers. Approximately six letters are accompanied by covers. All in very good condition with legible pen handwriting. Accompanied by near full transcriptions.

Lot of 21 Letters from the 74th Indiana Infantry -- With Colonel's Letter on Battle of Jonesborough: ''I...told them that to stop there was death, to retreat was no better...Our loss was severe...''
Lot of 21 Letters from the 74th Indiana Infantry -- With Colonel's Letter on Battle of Jonesborough: ''I...told them that to stop there was death, to retreat was no better...Our loss was severe...''
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Current Bidding
Minimum Bid: $6,000
Final prices include buyers premium.: $7,500
Number Bids: 1
Auction closed on Thursday, May 26, 2022.
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