January 2019 Auction Ends Thursday, January 31st, 5pm Pacific
This lot is closed for bidding. Bidding ended on 1/31/2019
Nice collection of 39 letters by J. Andrew Morlan, a Corporal in the 107th Illinois Infantry, Co. D, who participated in the Atlanta Campaign, including the Siege of Atlanta, the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge and fighting preceding the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain as well as several skirmishes. Morlan writes to his parents, telling them not only of the battles but also interesting stories such as a 70 year old War of 1812 veteran who ''killed or crippled at least 30 Rebels'', and the abysmal ''stench'' of Salisbury Prison after its liberation.

Shortly after his enlistment, on 22 November 1862, Morlan reports a fellow Illinois man is dead: ''...I have sad news to write. Emmett Webb is dead. He went in the last call for volunteers and went in the rege. with Dwight. He was shot down by his side at Harper's Ferry, the ball entering the back of his head and lodged in his forehead. Dwight picked him up and carried to the hospital, had his wound dressed and by hard convincing got enough boards to make a coffin. They had his funeral sermon last Sunday...You sayed that you would like to know where Emmett was. He is at Newport, RI at the Navy School on board the old ship Constitution...''

In his next letter, on 18 December 1862, he describes the rebel killer: ''...There was an old man that lived in town here that was in the 1812 War & was at N. Orleans, took up a rifle & came in behind the breast works & said he wanted to have a few shots at them before he died & every time he fired it was supposed that he fetched a man for he always took deliberate aim & it was supposed that he killed or crippled at least 30 Rebels, but he fell at last with 17 musket balls in him. He was 70 years old & upwards. He had served his country faithfully of ever any one did...'' Morlan continues, ''...You wanted to keep a sharp lookout for the Monmouth Cave as you supposed we was near it. We are within 15 miles of it...You said that it might be that Morgan might pop out of it on us as it might be for he swares that he will take that D-m-d 107th that run him out of Elisabeth...''

He writes of a slave auction in his 13 May 1863 letter, ''...I noticed an advertisement for the sale of 12 likely negroes and so I procured a couple of copies which I will send you that you may see & show some of those rank equalityists how the dear nigger is levied on, advertised, & stood up for sale the same as you would a horse and then, if they could be here, & hear the remarks that are made of the notice. It reads, it might enlighten some of their minds on the subject. The sale is to be next Mon. I am going to try & be there & then I will send you a list of the price each one brings...''

On 15 June 1863, Morlan describes a brazen train robbery, ''...you will be alarmed by a report that the rebels have been in here & cut us all up again, but it was only a few gurrilas got in above us up at Elisebeth town & captured a freight train, took some horses off, set fire to the train then made the engineer put up the steam & jumped off then robed him and conductor broke open the Adams Express Co's safe & robbed it & then decamped in haste. It was first reported there was 700 of them then 400 next only 70 & I heard last night they had taken 40 of them & I will bet if the 107 & 5 Ind. cavl would get ahold of them there wouldn't be many prisoners brought in for we don't take prisoners of that stripe. We don't think it pays to take those kind prisoners & then parole them & have them to take again in the course of a week or two...The bones of a good many lie bleaching in the hollows along the Cumberland that no one but some of the privates know any thing about the rebels round here are all as fraid of death of these two regts for they have found our mode of warfare out especialy the gurrilas...The cavalry have had several sharp skirmishes in the past two weeks & have got the worst of it time or two, but they pay them for all of it...''

On 24 June 1863, Morlan describes an intense skirmish, ''...We have advanced our lines twice since I last wrote & they charged us before we got the first ones done, but we repulsed them handsomely where Butterfields artillery had a cross fire on them they just mowed them down by regts they undertook to turn Hooker's right, but we had swung in unbeknown to them. We advanced again last eve & have just finished our works & we have them tolerably safe again. 10 lbs shell or shot, but we have had to work for it sure...We are right on the road leading through Mariatta to Atlanta & their main road. They had calculated to take their trains & artillery out on but they will have five lines of good works & good men to cut through before they get out here & about fifty pieces of artillery to contend with also...One of our boys got a slight wound in the front of the right shoulder...''

On 27 July 1863, he gives details of soldiers in other Illinois regiments during the Siege of Atlanta, ''...The 15th & 16th & 17th Corps moved to the extreme right last night which leaves us on the extreme left instead of the center. They are going to cut the Macon & Savannah R.R. I understand & then will resume their old position, but we can hear anything but the truth here...I suppose you have had the reports of the fight of the 21st & 22nd ere this. I will simply state that there are but 17 of the old 20th Ill's left that are not wounded or captured. Joe Morrison & Jake Hogle are among the prisoners but may turn up again soon as Stoneman has gone with a large Cavl force, each man with two horses & guns to attempt the liberation of all our pris in this state...I saw Saml Denton [20th IL Infantry, Co. E] yesterday, he looks well. His wound is not serious being only a bruise. John Porter & a fellow by the name of Martin are all that are left sound of Co. E...James Thomas, he was captured. They lost two guns thirty three men...I think when we get all the Johnny's communication cut off & those hundred pdrs playing on them, you can expect to hear of the fall of A. Soon after the prisoners say they think old Jeff & Johnson & Bragg are preparing to skedaddle to parts unknown. You have no idea of the noise that is constantly kept up round here by the musketry & drilling & then an innumerable quantity of mules constantly braying, it is almost impossible to sleep some nights...''

Writing from Knoxville on 25 January 1864, Morlan describes a retreat from Rebel forces, ''...The Rebs made an advance on us & we finding them two strong have to retreat back to the plains where we had just got a R.R. bridge completed of a thousand ft. in length across the Holston after the trains had all got across the bridge (it being for trains also). The forces crossed, burnt the bridge, & left for Knoxville closely pursued by the Rebs cavalry which has since been reported to have been only two thousand strong. Our div was in the rear that day again as usual giving us another chance to try the grit of Longstreet's men...'' He continues in a 26 February letter, ''...our forces got whooped at Mossie Creek & we had to retreat to the plains to keep from getting our supplies cut off & the Rebs got emboldened by their success & made an advance on us & consequently we crossed the R. on the new R.R. bridge we had just constructed & then burned it. They still advanced on us & we kept on to K., but we have had quite a reinforcement & the Rebs have fell back & we have advanced this far against the position of the 9th Corps that is here & our divi have got orders to be ready with as light baggage as possible for a fifteen days march...As regards rations we are not very well supplied at present, but it is the fault of our Brig. Comissary, he is making an independent fortune out of the rations...The brig commissary has been arrested once & court martialed but by the aid of several shoulder straps he has proved himself clear but the day of retribution I hope is close at hand...''

In several letters on 17 May 1864, Morlan describes the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge while ''Biouvacing in woods four miles from Coosey R. in hot pursuit of Gen. Johnson's whole army''. Morlan writes, ''...We attacked the Rebs at Tunnel Hill on last Sat. a week ago the 6th...We had three days desperate fighting. We took five miles of solid breast works, rifle pits & forts. Also six pieces of canon besides several in Dalton & Burrard roost Stony Faced Ridge fort considered impregnable. It withstood five charges but on planting 4 64 pdr siege guns on Tunnel Hill, it had to fall. They then fell back to Snake Creek Gap, then to the valley beyond and after three days obstanite resistance, we taking fort after fort with a terrible loss of men on both sides they evacuated in haste the night of the 16th leaving wounded. I am well & sound. Our side lost 400 killed & wounded...'' He continues in another letter also dated 17 May, ''...I will give you a little description of the nine days fight that we have just passed through...We advanced from the Georgia State line on the fifth then to the vicinity of Tunnel Hill which the fourth corps charged & took by the firing of a little artillery to aid with the only loss of 23 men wounded. / Sunday the 8th Did not aim to make fight but just took up position for Monday, put two pieces of 20 lb. parrot guns on one peak of Broward Roost Ridge on Sunday Night. Monday morn, Fourth Corps shelled & charged Stony Faced Ridge Fort but were repulsed. Our Divi advanced to front & foot of Stony Faced Ridge & Buzzard Roost also. Were ordered about 4 PM, to charge a line of rifle pits which were commanded by four forts & 42 guns, but order was countermanded just as we had started we were in the center. I don't think over 300 men out of the Divi would have come back alive if we had, but we lay there till morning when we were ordered to fall back & try to draw them out which they did not do. They was not of the drawing kind, but came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh. Three Co's, K. J. & B., were thrown out as skirmishers & Christopher Davis was wounded on left side just above thigh & in left arm, it is feared mortally. I have not heard from him for 3 or 4 days past, but don't think he is dead yet. / Wednesday morn our Divi. & corps were ordered to Snake Creek Gap 22 miles from B. Roost, made it in a day & a half. Found the gap full of troops. Gap is 10 miles long. It was the only road the Rebs had to get their artillery & trains through to Atlanta / Thursday went into the gap as far as we could for the Rebs there was heavy cannonading & musketry & we drove them back steadily toward their fortifications of which they had from five to seven miles, but by several successive charges, a good deal of artillery fighting, & a powerful sight of musketry (as the Southern people express themselves) we took all of them in three days & forced them to evacuate, they fled percipilately leaving all their killed & wounded. I have heard their loss variously estimated at from 10,000 to 20,000 killed & wounded. I haven't heard anything official or reliable as to our whole loss in killed wounded &c., but it is considerable. We lost four hundred killed & wounded in our division, but the loss in our regt. was remarkably small being only one killed instantly & five or six wounded at the outside. The one that was killed belonged to Co. C. His name was Sam'l Steel, a piece of shell struck him in the head & tore it completely off his body & the same piece cut another ones hat pin off close to the ground, & a piece of Steel's skull bone struck his Capt. In the arm & wounded him slightly. We, ie, the regt. was in a little bottom within 30 yds of a fort ready to charge it, but Gen. Judah on taking a second look at the works concluded that without the help of artillery (which he could not get at that time) we could not take it without an extreme loss of men. The fourth & twentieth Corps have given the Rebs a decent flogging down on the river at Calhoun, taking twenty five thousand prisoner & nearly all of their remaining artillery...''

Morlan tells his parents that the corps was chosen for a special assignment on 21 May 1864: ''...We have been driving the rebs steadily ever since the 16th inst. & have now got them across the Hitawa River...Our corps has got orders to let the men recruit two days & for all men to be sent back that can't stand hard marching hard work, & a good deal of fatigue...it is something of importance. Our Corps is noted for fast marching which I suppose is the reason we were chosen. We are taking some prisoners every day & picking up straglers & deserters which latter are very numerous. They report Johnson to have from forty to fifty thousand & that Gen. Bureguard had reinforced him with eight Brigades...''

On 18 June 1864 near Cash Mountain, Morlan describes a fight leading up to the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, ''...We were making an advance on the 15th, drove the enemy out of some very good works & then had to construct two different lines of works while the 6th Mich. Batter of 10 lbs parrots amused them consequently we had to work lively. On the eve of the 16th we advanced again, but not with but little opposition. The morn of the 18th we left our works again & we commenced advancing, had sharp skirmishing, but drove them from a good fort without the loss of a man, but while our skirmishers were advancing, one of Co. H was shot behind the works, died instantly. I forgot to mention the loss of Capt. Co. H. on the 16th while in comd. of skirmish line, also private in 118 O by a wandering shot. We advanced from the fort, drove them through thick woods & brush about two miles farther, but Schofield coming up stopped us as we were a mile & a half in advance of everything our brig alone & might have been taken in as easy as not. Gen's Hook & Howard, 20th & 4th Corps have been shelling constantly yesterday afternoon & today, the heaviest cannonading I ever heard. It is reported that McPherson has cut off a Brig from crossing the river & there has been heavy musketry on our left all day & last night notwithstanding the rain which has been falling almost constantly since day before night till now, 4 PM. Marietta is in our possession and 1,000 prisoners to boot...''

During the Siege of Atlana, Morlan writes on 13 August 1864: ''...Sergt. Eli Sylvester was slightly wounded last evening while in the act of crossing over to the outside of the works to the fire to light his pipe. The ball struck him in the fore part of the skin on the right leg, entering in the fore part on the outside of the bone & passing out rather lower behind inflicting a sever flesh wound as on examination it was found the bone was not injured. The ball came from the Rebel skirmish line on our left consequently coming lengthwise of our works & having traveled at least calculation a thousand yards if not more...I was sitting on the works right before him at the time. I saw a man get wounded through the thickest part of the thigh with a ball that had come more than a mile and a half which you may think incredible, but I saw that myself & indeed had only just barely passed out of its range in Co. with C.L.J. & haven't any doubt but that it was intended for one of us. It was shot by an Indian for we could see them, it being an open field all the way & they dressed in red...The 3rd Divi made a demonstration on our right, but fell back under the cover of night reporting two large forts & a heavy line of works that it would be impossible for two corps to take...the Johney's tired the 16th Corps night before last & they repulsed them, then jumped over their works & run them back to theirs & took their first line, still hold it...''

On 25 August he writes, ''...The intention I believe is for a part of the army to get in the rear of the enemy to draw all or the greater portion of Hook's force out after us & then Gen. Sherman will hop on the remainder & take Atlanta the great city for the possession of which so much blood & treasure has been wasted...I am very much afraid there will be a great dimunition in the number of the rank & file of the 107 which will not exceed 12, 5 going present sick & well...''

On 9 September, Morlan shares his thoughts about the upcoming election, ''...I am at the present time a Lincolnite & unless things take another aspect I will vote for him if we get a chance to vote. I think his reelection would close the war sooner than the election of Mc. for the Rebs know just what Lincoln's terms are & what they always will be. But if Mc. was to be elected they might think he would try to coax them back & then prolong the war another yr or more. But if it was certain that he would conduct the war on the same plan that is now going on and would be as stanch with the rebs as Abe is & it would have any tendency to unite the North any the more firmly & cause them to act with any more unity of feeling I would be decidedly in favor of the change. For a determined & zealous leader & a united & confiding people will surely crush this most terrible & gigantic rebellion...''

Recounting injuries sustained at the Battle of Franklin, Morlan writes on 27 December 1864, ''...We were notified the 24th that Jackson Clifton of our Co. died at Jeffersonville from the effects of a fracture of skull by a piece of shell at Franklin making four from our Co. All the others except one of Co. D. have got well & he is not dangerous. We heard last eve that Col. Lowery was getting along well..''

At the close of the war, Morlan describes ghastly conditions at Salisbury Prison, where overcrowding resulted in mass graves filled with Union soldiers. Describing Salisbury as ''one of the worst Secesh holes I ever was in'', Morlan continues, ''...I would not be a bit surprised to hear that Col. Strickland Comdg. 3rd Brig. 2nd Div. hangs a couple of citizens that shot at & wounded a couple of men in his Brig the night (Sunday) that he come in here on the cars & all evil disposed citizens had better keep themselves scarce from him for he don't think anything more of taking a person's life than he would a Hogs for he is a Deist. He has the Maj that was in Comd of the Prison Camp here under arrest & I expect he will execute him but the boys would save him the trouble if they could only get ahold of him for there was about three hundred went down town with that intention last night but failed to get him. I was over to visit the old prison pen yesterday & I found everything that I had heard about it so & a good deal more that I never heard. The stench was almost past duration after so long a time & what must it have been when filled to overflowing with such a mass of filth & corruption as was presented to our view at Willmington. I saw where they had tunneled in one place about 150ft & in another about 300ft & several made their escape through them. They had all burrowed in the ground & most of the holes had small places for fire. There are a good many shade trees in the enclosure but the Rebs occupied that part of the camp & their being a dead line through there the prisoners of course were not allowed to go near it. The burying ground & camp both are only about a 1/4 of a mile from our camp there are fifteen trenches in the burying yard 7ft-wide each about 100 yards long & citizens say they are buried in the most of them two three & four deep which is horrible to think of. It does seem to me that some of the leaders of this Rebellion will surely have an awful acct to render up at the last day & that they could hardly have deep enough repentance to atone for the crime committed. The military will not issue rations to the citizens round here although some of them are in a suffering condition. I see orders posted round declaring the slaves all free but telling them they had better stay with their former masters as many as will allow them to & will give them reasonable wages...'' An excellent collection of letters, most with original envelopes, in very good condition and with near complete transcriptions.
Civil War Letter Archive by a 107th Illinois Corporal -- ''...They came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh...they fled...leaving all their killed & wounded...''Civil War Letter Archive by a 107th Illinois Corporal -- ''...They came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh...they fled...leaving all their killed & wounded...''Civil War Letter Archive by a 107th Illinois Corporal -- ''...They came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh...they fled...leaving all their killed & wounded...''Civil War Letter Archive by a 107th Illinois Corporal -- ''...They came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh...they fled...leaving all their killed & wounded...''
Civil War Letter Archive by a 107th Illinois Corporal -- ''...They came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh...they fled...leaving all their killed & wounded...''
Civil War Letter Archive by a 107th Illinois Corporal -- ''...They came near drawing us into as nice a trap as was ever set to catch human flesh...they fled...leaving all their killed & wounded...''
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Auction closed on Thursday, January 31, 2019.
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