Grouping of Maine Civil War Letters Sell for $8,500 at NateDSanders.com
FREE APPRAISAL of Maine Civil War letters. Email Nate@NateDSanders.com, dial (310) 440-2982 or go to http://www.NateDSanders.com. We are an auction house in Southern California selling Civil War letters, including Maine Civil War letters. FREE VALUATION for Maine Civil War Letters.
Please let us know if you have Maine Civil War Letters for sale. Top dollar procured for your Maine Civil War Letters.
Maine Civil War Letters
Recently, we at Nate D. Sanders Auctions (http://www.NateDSanders.com), just sold this grouping of Maine Civil War letters for $8,500. Please see description below:
33 Letters by a Surgeon in the 12 Maine Infantry, With Excellent Surgical and Battle Content for Winchester, Cedar Creek & Sabine Cross Roads: “…to describe the bloody scenes of the battlefield, the groans of the dying mingling with yells of the advancing columns with the continual roar of musketry and artillery. These sounds are still ringing in my ears…” & “…I should have operated upon him but mortification had extended to his body before I saw him…The 14th N. H. buried 37 in one grave. They suffered severely. Our loss was 14 killed and 84 wounded…” & “…It was a horrible sight heads, bodies, arms & legs all scattered in all directions…”
Excellent lot of 33 Maine Civil War Letters by William C. Towle, an Assistant Surgeon in the 23rd and 12th Maine Infantry Regiments. A well educated man, Towle articulately describes the battles that he witnessed during the war, as he does his surgical operations, camp politics, and also the social milieu of the South. He documents the Battles of Sabine Cross Roads, Winchester and Cedar Creek, in addition to various skirmishes, and also the explosion at Fort Lyon in June 1863. In a series of three letters, Towle writes of the Battle of Winchester, beginning 27 September: “…I am safe…our loss (the regt) is 129 killed, wounded and missing. Many of these are slight and will be able to do duty in a short time. We have given the ‘Johneys’ an awful whipping and one that will tell greatly. I left Winchester last Saturday in company with about 2,000 men. It is not safe to travel alone for guerrillas infest the way. I have seen a great many rebel wounded as well as our own. This has been a week of surgery and I have improved it. I worked with Dr. [Charles H.] Andrus of the 128th N. Y. while I was in W.[inchester]. He is a very firm man and an excellent surgeon. I have learned a great deal…” He continues in the following letter dated 1 October, “…of our fight and great success near Winchester. It was a great victory and complete route of the Rebel army. I have seen many of the Rebel wounded and they all agree…that it was the greatest defeat that they have ever sustained in the Valley. Our division formed the first line of battle in the centre. The 6th Corps on the right. They drove the rebs before them for over half a mile when the Rebs made a furious charge on the right forcing back the 6th C[orps] and nearly flanking our division…now our brave boys were obliged to retreat leaving the dead and wounded on the ground, but they only fell back to the second line when they again rallied and the ‘Johneys’ were obliged to fall back again. Dr. [Eldridge A.] Thompson was detailed to the hospital before we went into the field. I kept with the Regt…until the order came for retreat. I then helped off all of the wounded that I could to the hospital which was about a mile and a half to the rear. We had two Capts. killed dead on the field, Thompson & Phillips…they fell at the head of their companies cheering their men on. When I got to the division hosp…which consisted of two houses, a barn and mill crowded with wounded and they were still coming. I soon found Dr. T and to his eternal disgrace and shame [he was] drunk. I was provoked with him and…I used some language unwarranted by an inferior to a superior officer. I just told him what I tho’t…Dr. Hoffman, the Med. Director for division, soon saw him and ordered a man to remove him immediately. I worked all night over our men 50 of which I got together into a corn barn and some straw for them to lay on. By order of the Med. Director I remained with our wounded the next day and on Wednesday I started on to Winchester, the wounded being all removed to that place. The army at this time were pushing after the retreating Rebs…at W. I was put into an hospital with over 200 patients with Dr. [Charles H.] Andrus of the 128th N.Y. I remained here until Saturday noon operating most of the time…Dr. T. loss was my gain. He is with the Regt and is feeling very bad…the Med. Director told me that he should file charges against him…he will be court martialed…it would be useless for me to attempt to describe the bloody scenes of the battlefield, the groans of the dying mingling with yells of the advancing columns with the continual roar of musketry and artillery. These sounds are still ringing in my ears. I don’t care myself about being any nearer than I was that day for shot and shell plouged the ground and cut the trees all about me. We suffered the most when our first line fell back for then they opened their batteries with grape and canister, a most murderous fire. We are now nearly 100 miles from Harpers Ferry…there is no danger from guerrillas if the trains are properly guarded. Small parties of guerrillas occasionally ‘gobble up’ stragglers and such like…we shall go down the Valley and destroy everything on the way. It will be cutting off a great deal of subsistence from the Rebel army…” On 11 October 1864 Towle writes of operating upon soldiers wounded during the battle, “…Gen. Sheridan having coaxed them down…where he wanted them made a grand flank movement capturing nine pieces of artillery, between 40 & 50 wagons and 300 prisoners. The rest escaping to the mountains. The ‘Johneys’ have been out guerrillaed in the Valley…Gen. Sheridan is an active live man as the battle of Winchester. During the engagement he rode up and down the entire line of battle directing the movements in person. This is the kind of a man to be in command of an army…Amos Harriman…was in the 14th N. H. I saw him in [the] hospital at Winchester with a bad wound in the thigh from which he died. I should have operated upon him but mortification had extended to his body before I saw him. I operated upon another from the same Regt. He was from Sandwich and was wounded in the same place. He was doing well when I left. The 14th N.H. buried 37 in one grave. They suffered severely. Our loss was 14 killed and 84 wounded & about a dozen prisoners…”
Almost immediately after Winchester, Towle was present at the Battle of Cedar Creek and inundated with its casualties. He writes to his wife on 21 October 1864, “…we have had a great battle and the casualties are large. I am now at work in the division hospital dressing wounds and amputating…the Rebs took the 8th Corps by surprise on our right and drove them in completely flanking our corps. Many of our men were obliged to jump over their own breastworks in order to avoid being captured by the ‘Johneys’. They had the best of it until about noon when the tide turned against them and they…were routed with great loss. Gen. Sheridan was absent in the forepart of the day, had been to Baltimore. He arrived on the field about noon and his presence everyone says was worth 20,000 men…I saw him as he was going onto the field and the men cheered him…his presence seemed to inspire them with new courage. The last accounts from the front are very good. We are capturing them by thousands, artillery, wagon trains etc, etc…” A few days later on 30 October he writes, “…Gen. Longstreet [wounded in the Wilderness] has resumed command of this corps…he may risk another attack…we are better prepared for them. They would have made a most excellent thing of it…if they had retreated about noon for…they held the most of our artillery and wagon trains and our forces were in full retreat, but old Sheridan came up and soon the tide of battle was turned and Mr. Johnie went back at double quick. Our regimental loss…is 83, 25 of which ware prisoners, 8 killed and the balance wounded…”
Earlier in 1864, Towle writes about General Banks’ defeats during the Red River Campaign, beginning with the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads, Louisiana. On 13 April he tells his wife, “…Gen. Banks is having hot work on the Red River [and] was badly defeated and would probably have been annihilated had not the 19th Army Corps come to his assistance. Our men suffered severely and at last account were holding their ground…about 400 dead & wounded were brought down to the city yesterday. Among them is Major Whitmore formerly of the 23rd [Maine] wounded in the side…he is in the St. James hospital. The 29th and 30th Me. were in the fight. The report is that the Gen. complained of them for straggling on the march but when they came in to action they fought like demons. The Gen. told them they might straggle in the future as much as they pleased. All the forces that can be spared from this department have been ordered up river…the 14th N.H. arrived here this week after a passage of 23 days. They are encamped here with us…I do hope that [the rebs] will get effectively cleaned out this time…Gen. Steele (Union) is in their rear with a large force…they will be badly used…I saw Capt. Farrington yesterday. He has not seen nor heard from [Gen. George] Shepley for over a month and can not find out where he is. He says he shall have him arrested when he sees him…” On 27 April he writes, “…Gen. Banks is falling back on Alexandria and…the Rebels are between him and the mouth of the Red River. He has failed disastrously…thus far…we hope he will make a more successful affair of it next time. All eyes are now turned toward Gen. Grant for with the Army of the Potomac in a great measure now rests the results of the spring campaign and perhaps the integrity of our Union. Military success…is what we must have. Everything depends on it and if we fail…the Confederacy will be stronger then ever…”
In June 1864, Towle expresses his opinion that many slaves would rather live as they had before the Civil War, and also mentions caring for Texas refugees: “…I have not changed my ideas of the colored race for I actually think their condition for the most part is worse now than before the war and will continue so for a long time to come…most of the negroes here today would prefer going back to their old homes and mothers provided the condition and position of the country was the same as before the war. The South counted too much on its own strength and resources & little on that of the north. Consequently they must suffer the consequences. I see no other way…There are about one hundred refugees here now. A great many young children among them. A number of them are sick. I have helped one sick with diarrhea…could get no help of the doctors in the city & it grew worse…they seem to be grateful for favors. They are from Texas driven from their homes by the accursed Rebels. Government gives them rations & clothes…the next news we hear Grant will be pounding at the walls of Richmond. I hope he will capture the whole Rebel army, Jeff Davis & all…” On 26 June Towle writes, “…The deaf & dumb asylum is a magnificent building. Our Regt when there last year used a part of it for hospital. We passed a dead body floating down the river. It was a horrid sight. We received no shots from the guerrillas though we passed a number of points where they occasionally show themselves. The boat that we came on had a man shot…last trip down…a member of the 30th…he says it is very sickly in their Regt. They have lost 23 men in the last 17 days. Their Regt which numbered 1800 strong when they came out is now reduced to less than 400, most 300 were killed & wounded in the battles on the Red River, some deserted and the rest died. All that I have seen want me to try and get into their Regt. Their surgeon Dr. Carr has resigned. Dr. Brashin has died and they now have but one Asst. Surg…”
On 31 July 1864, Towle writes of a sharpshooter’s bullet nearly missing him, and an intense skirmish: “…our troops had a sharp engagement with the Rebs driving them from their first line of rifle pits. On arriving we immediately occupied the same entrenchments. The Rebs being in their second line not a mile from us. Our men…went to work strengthening the works placing their batteries in position. Our brigade is composed of the 14th Me., 14th N.H., 26th Mass., 75th N.Y…under the command of Gen. [Henry Warner] Birge. Skirmishing and artillery practice was all that occurred Wednesday & Thursday. The Rebel camp being in range of the gunboats was shelled by them, the same going over our heads…we could see the shells strike plainly among them. Some would fall down while others would take to their heels. It was quite amusing to see the rebs trying to find shelter from the storm of shells. Their sharpshooters would occasionally send a bullet over our breastworks…one struck a tree near by where I was standing. Last night…we recd orders to evacuate as quietly as possible and by daylight over 30,000 infantry, artillery and cavalry had crossed the pontoon and was on the south side of the James once more. The Rebs recd heavy reinforcements yesterday. We could hear the cars & cheers of the men…the 14th had one killed…the line of works here is 15 miles in length & the Rebel’s works are opposed to them the whole length…” On 1 August he continues, “…the place to which we moved when we left Bermuda Hundred is called ‘four mile creek’ near Deep Bottom. Our object in going there was…to draw the Rebs to that point…the Rebs were heavily reinforced. When we evacuated our regt covered the retreat falling back from one point to another [with] the Rebs following up but keeping a proper distance. The Brigadier Gen. [Henry Warner] Birge is aboard of this boat with his staff. He eats at a separate table, thinks himself a little above common officers & he puts on more air then Gen. Grant. I don’t think he is any great affair for a good officer is always free to mingle with under officers & men…” Later in August right before the Battle of Winchester, he writes of skirmishes and troop movements, “…we join the balance of our Corps with the 6th & 8th [Corps] altogether making quite a formidable army…officers say we are now in an excellent position for a fight…it only remains for the Rebs to say whether they will attack us or not…orders have come to be in readiness…the Rebs are advancing, brisk skirmishing is now going on to the right…” On 31 August he continues, “…Our cavalry have had some skirmishing with their rear guard. The main force has had no engagement as yet. We have thrown up breastworks and are still at work strengthening them. We had report…that the enemy were advancing to attack us…Gen. Sheridan is not disposed to bring on a general fight unless the rebs commence it. His object…is to keep them here in the Valley to prevent…their going to Richmond. I saw four wounded Rebs in Charlestown as we came through. I inquired if they were Rebs and was informed by a citizen that they belonged to the Southern army. I saw the spot where Joh Brown was hung & his associates…” On 8 September he writes, “…we arrived here late last saturday night…the popping of musketry and the roar of artillery lasted until late in the evening and we all thought that a general engagement would take place the next morning. My position for the night was in the rear of the Regt under a tree beside my horse ready to mount at a moments notice…in the morning…the Rebs had retreated though a few were left to keep up appearances and occasionally exchange shots with our pickets. Our brigade made a reconnoissance day before yesterday. We found a few rifle pits but no enemy. We are 12 miles from Harpers Ferry. The guerrillas are ready to pounce upon every train that is not properly guarded…”
Other interesting content includes descriptions of the explosion at Fort Lyon, numerous deadly accidents in camp, asking his wife if he should bring a “Negro girl” back as a servant and detailed depictions of sickness in camp. A selection includes, “…we have lost…five cases of small pox…I never wish to see another case for all the death scenes I ever witnessed these certainly were the most horrible. The features…enormously swollen and flesh in many places dropping from the bones…then that unearthly of all smells which emanates from the body…”; “…all the houses which we can see are deserted by white people…the negroes have full possession, carrying on the farms as best they can…”; “…The sick man Lieut. Stacey was moved from camp to this house…I found him in very bad condition with most violent headache threatened with congestion of brain. I affixed ice to his head & blisters to the extremities, gave him calomel followed by salts. Under this treatment he has improved and this morning feels much better. I am a little careful in dressing the blisters not to dress the same one twice…this is a very nice family where I am stopping…they have about a dozen slaves who fare as well…as their masters…”; “…the sad accident which happened in one of our forts near here. About 2 o’clock the magazine in Fort Lyons exploded…killing twenty men & wounding fourteen more. It was a horrible sight heads, bodies, arms & legs all scattered in all directions…the poor fellows who survived were so burned and mutilated that many of them must die. They were taken to the hospitals in the city and all is being done for them…they belonged to the 3rd N. York. We were also called last eve to see a soldier who had accidentally shot himself while taking a gun from a wagon. The whole charge of the gun went through his left lung & he lived but a few minutes…there are more than 1000 carrion about here within a mile. Instead of burning a carcass as civilized people would do they merely lay them on top of the ground & throw a little dirt over them. This is blown off and no other attempt is made…to cover them…”; “…We had a very sad accident in Co. H this morning. Two young men Brown…and Hobbs of our town fooling with their guns snapping them at each other when the gun of Brown being loaded, unknown to him, went off and the whole charge went through Hobb’s head killing him immediately. His body we started on the way home. So much for fun…”; “…I have a man in the hospital who belongs to the 2d N.O. Regt. who was conscripted by the rebs and afterwards managed to escape…he left his wife and two children, the oldest a boy of ten years…he thinks they can manage to live for 3 months…on what he left them provided the rebs don’t seize it. He was with two others who came with him. [They were] obliged to keep in the swamps by day & traveled by night often…without food. He enlisted as soon as he arrived…but is rather weak & feeble yet. He says they are conscripting all between 16 and 65. There were eight deserters from a Reb La. regt came in last night…”; “…There are strong suspicions that a great deal of the money sent to the Dept. is used by high officials in speculating on cotton. It is a great temptation for they can more than double their money as soon as they get it through the lines. It is a very easy thing to give a man a pass into the Confederacy with a good pile of greenbacks and then he can buy as much cotton as he pleases and no trouble in getting it out. I know well enough from what I have heard in high official quarters that there is much of this business carried on…”; “…One of our men was accidentally shot dead by the discharge of a musket in the hands of another. I felt very bad for I would rather see a dozen fall in battle then have one killed in such a way…” Most letters are bold and legible, in very good condition. All 33 Maine Civil War Letters have original envelopes, and near complete transcriptions are included.
Sold for $8,500.
FREE APPRAISAL of Maine Civil War letters. Email Nate@NateDSanders.com, dial (310) 440-2982 or go to http://www.NateDSanders.com. We are an auction house in Southern California selling Civil War letters, including Maine Civil War letters. FREE APPRAISAL for Maine Civil War Letters.
Please let us know if you have Maine Civil War Letters. Top dollar obtained for your Maine Civil War Letters.
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