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200 Maryland Civil War Letters Sold for $38,000 at Nate D. Sanders Auctions

FOR A FREE ESTIMATE of your Maryland Civil War letters, please call the Nate D. Sanders Auction House at (310) 440-2982, email [email protected] or  visit http://www.NateDSanders.com. We are an auction house specializing in Civil War letters, including the great state of Maryland Civil War letters. Free appraisal for Maryland Civil War Letters. Top dollar obtained for Maryland Civil War letters.

Maryland Civil War Letters Sold

Nate D. Sanders Auctions recently sold a collection of Maryland Civil War letters of Soldier William Gibson for $38,000.

Maryland Civil War Letters

200+ Letters With Exceptional & Relentless Battle Content From WIA Soldier Who Fought at Antietam, Cold Harbor & the Siege of Petersburg: “…Poor Budd was shot through the bowels…he replied ‘Such is the fortune of war’…” & “…West was shot in the mouth and must have died instantly…As he lay dead, his face covered with blood…he was as noble a sight for a dead soldier as a painter could wish…I could not tell who he was until I poured water on his face to wash off the blood…” Click to enlarge.

Really exceptional and large Civil War archive of 208 letters by 1st Lieutenant William Gibson of the Purnell Legion Maryland Infantry, Co. A, who was wounded at the Battle of Globe Tavern during the Petersburg Siege. Lot also includes four war-dated and post-war photographs of Gibon. Gibson writes to his wife during his three year enlistment, with interesting and detailed battle content, most notably at Antietam, Cold Harbor, and the entire Siege of Petersburg, as well as at Harper’s Ferry, Cedar Mountain, Catlett’s Station and Chantilly, in addition to colorful content regarding his regiment and locals he encountered, including sharpshooting secesh women.

In September 1862 Gibson writes a lengthy 8pp. letter over several days, describing the build-up to Antietam and the “great slaughter” that followed. In part, “…Sunday morning we marched passing through Frederick…The battleground appeared to reach some five or six miles in length…Our troops drove the enemy from a very strong position. The pass to Broonsboro is through the South Mountain and the enemy held the pass. Immense hills covered with wood are on each side and one directly in front caused by a turn in the road. The enemy was badly beaten, they were driven back nearly a mile. Yesterday morning we found they had retreated leaving their dead and some of their wounded on the field. We lost Gen’l Reno killed about a 1000 wounded. I did not hear how many killed but the number is not great. The enemy lost immense. We took about 1000 prisoners and it is supposed 2100 in killed and wounded. I saw quite a number of bodies laying on the road side, some very young and delicate looking. I noticed one young fellow, his hands verry small, as if labor was unknown to them. He was dressed in homespun rags and bare footed. Some desert to our lines and say they have been trying to do so a long time. I saw a number of prisoners, they were a sorry looking sight…Our troops being in pursuit of the enemy, we had retreated during the night…The enemy have again fallen back the morning after a brisk cannonading. It is reported that they attempted to cross the Potomac last night, but were driven back with great slaughter. Our troops are in great spirits and the enemy, it is said, is greatly depressed. He was deserved in his reception in this state. He lost more by desertion than he got by recruiting. He cannot get back to Virginia as he is hemmed in on all sides…From where I write I can see I think 50 to 60,000 men in battle army a long range of hills from which our cannon shelled the enemy this morning…It is reported that Gen. Longstreet was killed on Sunday that Gen. Lee and his son were wounded and cut off from their main army. I have just heard that Harper’s Ferry has surrendered to the enemy…Soon after writing the above a cannonade commenced again & continued after dark. At 11 o’clock we were ordered to march and went to the right. We marched about 3 miles and halted for the night. Fighting was going on all night. At day break, I was roused by the sound of musketry which seemed very near. Soon the battle raged from right to left a distance of 5 or 6 miles. Our regt. was ordered to the right. Soon it was greeted with shells flying over its head. One took the leg clean off a Sergt. of Co. D. The boys stood manfully, not a man in the regt. flinched. The regt. was sent to the extreme right to support two new regts. and an old Pa. The new regts. broke and broke through our line sweeping it with them. The men were soon rallyed again and drove back the enemy. Immediately a regt. appeared on the flank displaying the US flag and making signals to us. After coming very close, they opened fire. The regt. was then circled with fire and nothing was left but retreat. The regt. therefore became scattered and has not been gathered together yet. Lt. Brown is wounded, having a buck shot in the fore finger of his left hand. He may lose the first joint. He don’t mind a bit. Private Fetters is badly bruised. A piece of shell struck his musket and knocked it to pieces, then struck a horse on the head behind him. The horse fell on him and hurt him badly. Dan Cathell is reported shot in the hand. I have not see him yet I hope it is not so. Capt. McAllister is wounded. Capt. Mitchell shot in the hand. Lt. Bogarders in the mouth. Lt. Stokely is hurt in the knee. Our loss in killed and wounded will not exceed fifty. This battle I think has been the greatest of this war…” He continues in a letter a few days later, “…I wrote to you on Wednesday & Thursday after the great battle. Lt. Brown has gone home also Capt. Mitchell. Capt. McAllister is not hurt, he was struck on the side, but was only stunned. Lt. Bogandes was hit in the mouth, knocking the upper row of front teeth out. We had 4 killed in the regt. some 30 or 40 wounded…”

In several letters beginning 31 May 1864, Gibson describes what he calls the horrible fighting at Cold Harbor. He writes, “…Our corps marched forward and got into action at 4. We started in and were soon under fire. 5 men of the regiment were wounded and the shells fell thick for some time. For a time we lay flat upon the ground which saved many lives. I think a shell went directly over me and quite close while I lay upon the ground, but God in his mercy has preserved me. On our right the Rebels charged and I hear broke some of our regts. but they were driven back with great loss to them. We lay in line last night and have thrown up a breast work, behind which I write this. There was firing all night to the right and it continues now…” Two days later he continues, “…I wrote this sitting on the ground and under the fire of the enemy. The balls whistling over our heads as they have been all day. After writing to you on the 30th, we were sent out on picket duty and placed in a thick wood and ugly swamp. We were within 60 yards of the Rebels and could hear them distinctly giving the word of command &c. In the morning orders came for us to advance and attack the enemy…We got through the swamp and the Rebels opened a battery upon us. The shells soon fell thick among us, but thank god not one of us was hit. Soon narrow escapes took place. I had but left from behind a tree when a large shell came and striking first another tree, glanced off and struck just were I had been sitting. All day yesterday they were falling more or less around us. Last night we moved around to near this place where we through up breast works. This morning we moved forward about 200 yards where I wrote this…”

He continues describing the Battle of Cold Harbor on 4 June 1864, “…Yesterday morning our regt. was ordered to advance and drive the enemy from their rifle pitts and out of a wood in our front. I had charge of the left companies and in we went, charged and drove the Rebels clean out of the wood and from their pitts. We captured some 20 prisoners from that time till noon night we were under a dreadfull fire of musketry that shell and canister. Oh it was horrible! In the charge our company lost three killed during the day. My loss was 4 killed and 6 wounded. The men of the company generally fought like heroes and the regt. held the position won, till relieved by the 6th New Jersey, but that regt. lost it last night so the work will have to be done over again. The killed of Co. A are Wm. H.H. West, John J. Harper, John J. Budd & John J. McIntosh, the wounded are John H. Stenner, George Lee, Jacob W. Houck in the hand, William J. Courtney in the legs not badly, George Fruntdee in the thigh and John Gibson stunned by a shell…You can say to the friends of those killed and wounded that the done their duty like brave men. West & Harper were killed almost instantly, Budd & McIntosh died in a few hours, they were shot through the bowels. Harper’s body could not be recovered, the others are buried decently. The regt. lost as far as reported 29 killed and wounded and 2 missing. My company you will see lost one third of the whole. We have no rest night or day, there is not a minute we can call ours, but I dare not complain…”

Still more at Cold Harbor on 6 and 9 June 1864, with poignant content on fallen soldiers, “…We had many hair breath escapes. Lee was struck by a ball which went through his cartridge box, leaving a black bruise on his belly. Courtney was shot in the legs with buck shot. He is not much the worse. J. Gibson was stunned by a shell bursting over his head. The boys of the company fought like heroes, except 3 or 4. Poor [John] Budd was shot through the bowels as was McIntosh, both died in the afternoon. I told Budd I was sorry for him, he replied ‘Such is the fortune of war.’ He was a good man and a brave soldier and is regretted by every body. West was shot in the mouth and must have died instantly. He was a large fine looking man. As he lay dead, his face covered with blood and right on his back, he was as noble a sight for a dead soldier as a painter could wish. He had on all his equipments, even his cap still on his head and his musket lying on his arms. I could not tell who he was until I poured water on his face to wash off the blood…The loss of the regt. was 29 in killed and wounded of whom my co. lost more than a third of the whole. The regt. has lost 35 since it joined the army…Last night we moved out of our breast quietly after dark. Soon the Rebels attacked, but we were not engaged. When I see you I have many narrow escapes to tell you of. Some of the men have saved, one had a ball to strike his bayonet in the scabbard. One had his trowsers pocket cut &c. Balls grape & shells whistled around me all that day, struck a tree behind which I was standing yesterday and in fact all the time the enemy were pouring shells into our camp. They killed one of the 1st MD and another was wounded yesterday by a shell while cooking the dinner…” In another letter he continues, “…On Thursday night last we were placed in a very exposed position without any support. In the morning the Rebels discovered us, and my company being on the extreme left, and nothing to hide them, were constantly shot at, a good many shots fell very near me. Their sharpshooters firing at officers every chance. Three of my men and myself sat down to breakfast when a ball passed over the shoulder of the man next me. It is astonishing what narrow escapes we had that day. Next day we got up a breastwork but we could hardly show a head without a shot being shot at it. Several men hit. Next day we drove the Rebels from their rifle pitts and the wood. In doing so, I lost the men. I wrote about 4 killed & 6 wounded. One of the wounded, it is feared, mortally. The Rebels continued to shell us on Sunday. Two men were cooking their dinners about 60 yards behind us were hit by a shell and were instantly killed. The other lost a leg. These things only cause a passing remark. At night we moved quietly out of our works and after a horrid march in the dark through swamps and dense woods, at last we reached our present position…I think the Rebels do not fight like they did formerly and our men fight much better. The prisoners taken by us on Friday held a position which I think my boys would not have given up so easy, in fact, we held the place all day against great odds and the could not move us with the shot, shell or grape…”

Several standout letters come from Gibson’s descriptions covering the entire Siege of Petersburg, with relentless fighting during the second half of 1864. Starting at the Second Battle of Petersburg, Gibson writes on 19 June, “…At about 8 o’clock we marched about 1/2 a mile and lay in one position till six in the evening. During the day some very heavy fighting was going on all around us. Our only danger was from stray shells. One of them burst among our brigade and killed one of the Purcell Cavalry, now dismounted and with us and wounding one man of Co. D and two others of the 1st MD. At about 7 o’clock we were put in motion and after marching hither and thither under shells & stray balls, we lay flat on the ground all night. The fighting was very heavy till near day when it ceased for a while. They enemy having withdrew from his outer entrenchments. Yesterday morning we advance and soon found him again. Terrible fighting continued all day. We did not however reach the front till 5 or 6 in the evening when we had to advance under a heavy fire of shells. Now we lie as we did all night about 1500 yards from a Rebel fort which our troops failed to take yesterday. In advancing yesterday, John E. Gorman was struck with a piece of Shell in the hand causing a bad wound. I hear we was hurt otherwise. A musket was broken in the hand of J.C. Peregoy by another shell…Firing by our guns has commenced. Bradyhouse of Co. C. is safe. Another man (Mott) of our company was hit yesterday in the knee…”

On 21 and 23 June 1864 he writes, “…We have lain here three nights with bullets constantly flying over our breast work and occasionally shell & shot. Nobody in our company has been hurt during the past two days. On Sunday Sergt. Hedrick Co. 7, was shot in the neck just as he raised his head over the breast work and yesterday Sergt. Weiss was hit in the face in the same way…Although there is continued fighting going on around us. There is no excitement. Everything seems now as a matter of course. A man killed or wounded excited merely a passing remark. It is pitifull to see the wickedness of man. They do not seem to feel for any person but themselves and have no fear of God before their eyes although every minute may be their last…we lose a man or two every day. One was killed and one wounded yesterday. A man can’t stand up on his feet without running the risk of being shot. You will see that it is not a very delightfull place to live. We dig holes in the ground and through up the earth in front and then get into our holes so we live…Yesterday afternoon a big battle was going on on our right for a long time. About 4 o’clock we were ordered to proceed to the assistance of the 2nd & 6th Corps. A brigade of which it was reported had been captured with a battery. Our brigade went off at a quick rate. The heat was great and the dust very bad. Soon we were under fire of the enemy shells. One of them passed close over the heads of our company. One man was killed and one wounded in the 7th MD…”

On 25 and 28 June 1864 “In front of Petersburg” he continues, “…Yesterday morning a movement of troops here raising a dust, the Rebels seeing it and thinking it and a favorable opportunity, opened a tremendous cannonade and tried to drive our men out of the works, but they were terribly cut up by our artillery and suffered heavily, but let us look at God’s providence where we had been the shot and shell played with awful effect, killing and wounding 100 men. Had we not been called away, we must have suffered more or less…We have in our front some 20 yards out a line of skirmishers with the Rebel lines in their front 150 or 200 yards. The major and myself occupy a hole in the ground with the dirt thrown around it against which the Rebel balls are constantly striking and flying over us. A man dare not stand up for a second, but a ball is sure to come at him. The Rebels occupy a number of small houses in our front and have an advantage in that respect. On Saturday night when we came out, the Rebels opened a brisk fire on us discovering that we were relieving others. We lay flat upon the ground and none of our regt. was hurt. On Sunday a sergt named Fox Co. B was killed and a man of Co. G wounded slightly in the head. Sunday morning I was roused by the dust falling on my face, a bullet knocked it down on us. I have not washed since we came out here. The water is some distance. I have been compelled to keep in my hole which is just long enough to lie in. Sunday & yesterday were very hot and we felt it severely, but last evening a thunder storm cooled the air, but wet our bed (the ground). I slept soundly and dreaming of those I love. Today is pleasant. Our mortars threw 100 lb shells into the enemy lines last night…”

More assaults by the Rebels on 9 July 1864 “Before Petersburg”, “…One man of Co. C Cavalry of the Legion was killed day before yesterday while lying out of the breastwork, that is, on the bank inside. It is said he was asleep and never spoke. Yesterday afternoon a heavy cannonading commenced all of a sudden nearly along the whole line. The shells flew over us very fast and uncomfortable low. One passed through Lt. Hayman’s shelter tent which he has spread over his hole. Lt. Wailes had just got down but a moment before. Our batteries play over our heads at time, so we have to lie close. On Thursday one of our own shells burst over us and a piece flew among our boys and struck Leddon on the foot cutting through the boot…” and on 11 July, “…We are still in the same place. I still occupy the same hole. One consolation, we pay no rent, our accomodations are limited & furniture very scarce…On Friday afternoon the Rebels opened all along the line and throw right at us. One shell passed through the shelter tent of Lieut. Hayman of Co. D. He was stooped putting on his belt, had he been standing it would have taken off his head. Four Rebels came over yesterday morning at day-break. The Rebs fired after them and that started us all out thinking they were going to attack us…” On 21 July he tells his wife, “…We have been in the trenches 26 days without relief…”

On 26 July 1864, he describes an escape, “…On Sunday morning some of my boys had a most wonderful escape. A 24 pound bomb shell fell into their hole which they had covered over with heavy logs and covered with 18 inches of earth. The shell went down through all and exploded among them, yet strange to say none were killed or seriously hurt. In the hole were Capt. Norris & Privates Chas H. Jenkins & Wm A. Kirby. Jenkins escaped with a slight burn in the back while Norris & Kirby are considered burnt in arms & face by the powder. One eye of Norris is a little burst and Kirby was knocked deaf. He can now hear with his right ear very well, but as yet very little with the left. It will all come right in a few days. This occurrence is considered most astonishing among the multitude of astonishing escapes that occur daily. One man of Co. C Cavalry was wounded yesterday…” In a letter on 30 July he describes fighting by a colored regiment, “…We blew up a Rebel Fort, burying nearly all those in it. The colored troops charged on the instant and captured it with a good many prisoners. They darkies in their excitement went on too far and were driven back…” He defends the troops in a letter on 5 August, “…I suppose the darkies are also blamed for our failure as if we never failed in anything before. Few troops have ever been subjected to a hotter fire than they were on Saturday last and I don’t see any reason to blame those more than others. I am not one of those who think the negroes as good troops as the Whites in every sense of the word. There are some White nations who do not make as good soldiers as others. Our failure to take Petersburg has disappointed the soldiers a great deal but they are not disheartened…” and “…Our brigade had to build breastworks…The Rebels seeing them, shelled them pretty severely, yet but few were hit. I believe seven in all. Two in our regiment, one in the 4th MD will die…”

After the Battle of Globe Tavern, where Gibson was slightly wounded, he writes on 19 August 1864, “…We came out here yesterday morning and have had a big fight in which our brigade acted nobly and suffered very severely. My company has suffered a great deal. Booker, Dryden, James Armiger, Wm Peregoy Grissome, & Fieldhome are wounded. Geo. Armiger & Adams are missing…A ball struck me when I stood with my left side to the enemy, entered my breast pocket on the right & broke the photograph of the children & you and then knocked my right arm…” A day later, on 20 August he writes, “…We had a great battle for the previous and yesterday a still greater one…We drove the Rebels from our front and yesterday I counted 17 dead Rebels immediately in front of where our brigade fought. Oh it was terrible fighting, but the fight of yesterday was much greater and resulted in heavier. Our brigade lost about 150 killed and wounded, almost a fourth of those engaged. As on the march, great numbers fell out from the heat. I told you of my narrow escape, letters & papers and the picture saved me. My arm just feels hot that is all. Col. Dushane had a ball through his coat and Adjt. Gen’l Bankerd of this staff was hit in the hip with a spare ball. Our regt. suffered the most in the brigade having lost 10 killed and 55 wounded and a good many missing. Our company has 7 wounded. Grissom and James Armiger are the only dangerous ones. Brooke & W. Peregoy are hit in the head. Dryden in the arm and Fieldhouse loses a finger. Allen Adams, Kirby & Maguire are missing. Capt. Williamson is killed, he had two balls in him. We recovered his body yesterday. Capt. Newton is missing. Lieut. Ruhe of Co. 7 is wounded. You remember little William Wright of Co. C who was recruiting with me, he was killed and found lying along side of his captain. The battle yesterday was awful for a while. The Rebels gained on us a while, but we finally drove them off. It rained all day and poured down during the fight…Another fight may take place any minute. The balls from the skirmish are continuing whistling over us…”

On 22 August 1864 the fighting at Petersburg continues, “…We have had a terrible time since we came out here…Yesterday morning the enemy came upon us in great force and for two or three hours the firing was terrific. We whipped them at all points. We had forty guns in operation at one time. The place our brigade occupied being in a cone, subjected us to a cross fire from the enemy and the shells from our own guns also fell over us making the scene beyond description awfull. Our regt. was supposed to have been all captured, but the men have mostly returned. We have however lost terribly. My company has suffered the most. J.H. Stenner is killed, his body has just been brought in. John Jones is wounded in the leg. Sergeant J. Armiger & Sergt. Wm H. Grape are missing. Corpl. Murray & private Allen, Vinger, Kunkel, Harrison, and Jean are also missing, making killed 1, wounded 1, missing 7, nearly half of them out. Lt. McLean is safe. Of those missing, I fear some are killed or wounded. But I have still greater loss to relate. Near the close of the engagement Col. Dushane was struck on the chin by a cannon shot and killed instantly. This is a heavy loss to the country for he was an excellent officer and had received high commendation for his management during the campaign. We lay on the ground together from 3 o’clock till day light, but that was his last. He was very kind to me and I fell his loss deeply. Capt. Kenly our brigade commissary goes home with the Col’s remains. He promised to call upon you. I gave him the broken picture and the ball that broke it…Sergt. Remple of the cavalry was killed yesterday…”

He writes again on the 24th, “…Our little corner was the hottest of the fight. I hope I may never be in as hot a place again. How any person lived through it is a mystery. An artillery battery in whose rear I was a few yards, had 16 horses killed & 9 wounded and 12 men killed and wounded. Our regt. has suffered the worst perhaps of any regt…I saw some of the Rebel dead and some of ours still lying in the woods this morning unburied. The ground has been fought over three or four times…The Rebels suffered terribly on Sunday morning and we captured a good many prisoners. Some 65 officers of theirs were brought in wounded. Col. Graham now commands this brigade. He had a horse killed under him on Thursday, being the second one he has lost since we came out…” On 4 September 1864, Gibson describes the Rebel and Union dead buried next to each other, “…In the fight of the 18th we lost almost one half of those in the fight, but the Rebels must have suffered much more. I saw near our front next day or so 11 of their dead and no doubt there were many others. I never wish to see the like again. Poor fellows, there lay some of ours and theirs close together…They were no longer enemies…”

In October 1864 Gibson describes the Battles of Peebles Farm, and Darbytown and New Market Roads: “…Col. Graham advanced with the legion being the only regt. with him. We crossed an open field some 200 yards, then through a thick wood. We expected to meet the Rebels every minute, but they had fallen back. The wood was very thick and soon it became pitch dark. We remained out in the wood near the Rebels 2nd line of works, their first being in our possession, for about 2 hours when we withdrew our regt. This morning the Rebels advanced and attacked us capturing some of the men who relieved our men last night or near then. They drove in our skirmishers but could do nothing with our lines of battle. The 1st MD & The 8th MD skirmishers have lost considerable men on the skirmish line. I would not be surprised if the enemy should attack us this evening again. We have gained some two or three miles to our left and I suppose it is very important…In Saturday’s fight the 1st MD had 2 killed, 2 mortally wounded, & 4 wounded. The 8th had 3 killed and 4 wounded…” and “…At day light our skirmish line drove back that of the enemy. Some brigades of our division went out in their support and charging up to near the Rebel entrenchments, burnt a large house from which the Rebel sharp shooters have been annoying our men…Our skirmishers suffered a loss of some 15 or 16 killed, wounded, and missing. The killed, I think, will not exceed 2. Most of those lost belong to the 4th , 1st, & 7th MD…” He then describes men whose enlistment had expired going to the back during battles to avoid fighting.

Other battle content in Gibson’s letters includes the following: on 29 May 1862, Gibson writes about attacks by the Stonewall Brigade during General Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign. From Harper’s Ferry, “…we were ordered into line as the enemy were reported within a mile and a quarter. We lay upon our arms in line…A portion of our troops in the morning advanced to Charleston 8 miles distant where they had a skirmish with the enemy’s cavalry and drove them through the town and two miles beyond. The enemy appeared in force and our men were forced to retire which they did, arriving here about three in the afternoon. Some prisoners & some wounded on both sides. Some houses were burnt in the town…” He continues on 30-31 May, “…The enemy were reported close by, shots were exchanged, our pickets were driven in. The big guns belched forth their thunder. We were kept under arms all day being only allowed to run off and get our coffee…I had just raised mine to my lips when a shot was heard in camp. I ran out and found Geo. W. Bandel shot in the neck by a pistol ball. It was accidental. A sergt of Company C’s pistol having gone off…The rebels attacked us twice but don’t appear this morning. I had one man wounded, shot in the arm. God has again preserved your loving husband…”

And then on 1 June 1862, “…at dusk the rebels appeared in our abandoned camps (we had during the previous night retreated, leaving our tents and baggage). Our big guns commenced to shell them which they did with, it is said, great effect, lighting within their lines. It soon grew very dark and we had to remain at our post in line till day, the night was rainy. We had thunder & lightning as well as our own thunder. Our guards fired upon each other a sentry of the 3d Del Regt. killed the sergt of the guard. They fired upon us twice. I could hear the balls whistling over our heads. One of our companies (K) fired without orders and set the whole of the line a going. Some men fired their muskets dropped them and run to the rear thinking the enemy was right upon us (only a few of my company did so). We were drawn up in two lines. Immediately in our rear were the regulars who are mere recruits and when the firing commenced they also fired a great number of shots right into us who were not more than 50 yards in their front. Strange to say only two men were hurt and they only losing two or three fingers each. About two hours after firing again commenced, some of the enemy were supposed right upon us and the order was given to fire which was given along the whole line. There was nobody hurt but my poor fellow Johnson whose arm had to be amputated close up to the shoulder…The Rebels appear to have retreated beyond Charlestown and are supposed to have been attacked by Gen. Shields…”

On 12 August 1862, Gibson recounts the “great battle” at Cedar Mountain, in part, “…we have had a great battle with immense numbers killed & wounded on both sides and I know you would be apprehensive of danger to me. Just as I was closing my letter on Saturday the cannonading became distinct and sounded as if coming nearer and nearer it continued till long after sunset…Again about 11 o’clock it began again and continued about 20 minutes and again at day break for a short time. The night was a most beautiful moonlight one, except it was terrible hot and oppressive. The troops engaged were those of Gen’l Banks. They bore the brunt of the battle and suffered a loss of from 1000 to 1500 in killed, wounded, & prisoners. All day Sunday & yesterday the two armies lay facing each other. The dead lying between them unburied till yesterday, when under a flag of truce each went and buried their dead and brought in their wounded. The Rebel army is said to be very strong, but all our troops had not come up. Rumor yesterday says Gen’l Sigel attacked them on their left and although we expected a fight this morning, I can hear no sounds of any. The fight began some miles beyond Culpepper C.H. Our men retreated till in the town when reinforcements under Gen McDowell came up when the enemy in turn retreated. It is said if McDowell had brought his men into action we would have whipped them badly. He is reported under arrest. The Brigade & Division of which our regt. forms a part was hotly engaged and suffered considerably. Gen’l Auger who commands our division is wounded. Gen’l Prince of our 1st Brigade is wounded and it is said a prisoner. Our brigade had but two regiments present, the 78th N.York & 1st Dist. Columbia. The 1st D.C. had seven killed, the 78th had once company made prisoners. The 3d Md. Belonging to the 1st Brigade has suffered badly. They were fired into, in mistake by the 109th Pa. Two trains of wounded passed here last night and those connected with the train said a battle was expected to-day. It was also reported that Gen’l King had come up from Fredricksburg. Another report had it that the enemy was retreating…It is rumored that the Rebel Gen’l Hoyer is killed…I suppose the draft has caused quite a commotion in the city…” Two days later he updates, “…we are not far distant from the enemy, that fears are entertained that they may make an attempt to distroy this bridge & rail-road…”

On 25 August 1862, Gibson writes about escaping from rebels during the Battle of Catlett’s Station, “…I not being well & nothing in camp for to eat, was directed by Lt. Col. Simpson. I went to the house of a Mr. Stone to stay all night. Very soon after dark I heard a great noise in the direction of our camp, whooping, yelling, & firing it continued all night. Soon I learned that a large body of Rebel cavalry had surprised our camp, that of the Penn’s Bucktails & a large baggage train. The enemy were between the camp and poor me, I cannot describe the scene in the house I was in…I was quite sick of fever, but not a bit alarmed. I was afraid for Mr. Stone as my being found in his house would be bad for him. The firing continued nearly all night and I hoped the enemy would disappear about day-break, but he did not. The firing still continued, the enemy was not far from the house. I sat down to breakfast and had just finished when the children came running in halloring that the soldiers were coming up to the house. I went to the door and there appeared coming from the rail road about 50 cavalry and might be many more. I did not wait to be made acquainted with the gentleman, but ran through a corn field into some pine wood were I wandered or rather we, 4 of us, until about two o’clock in the afternoon. We had a rather rough time. I had to wade a stream more than knee deep. The woods were very wet as the night was very stormy. I got to a place called Bristol, the 1st station from Catlett’s North. I staid all night and returned here this morning and found myself put down as being captured. I find the Lt. Col. & Lt. Brown, 20 privates, 4 corpl, & 1 sergt. McLean all safe. I am very sorry nothing is known of Lt. Reinicker but as men are turning up hourly, I hope to hear of him soon…” He writes again the next day, providing more details about the attack on the home where he was hiding out, “…My letter of Sunday was very nervously written and I had not much information in reference to the raid made by the enemy’s cavalry upon this station. I, not being well, was at the house of Mr. Stone about a mile from camp. Shortly after dark and after a severe thunder shower the enemy dashed in as nothing of the kind was expected. It was a complete surprise. Our men were scattered form the rain. The first five killed one of Co. C. His wife is the laundress and she had just parted from him, leaving in the train which the enemy fired into. Such of our men as got their guns gave a volley which did a good deal of damage, but they were in strong force and charged again. The fight continued all night. I could hear all was going on. The night was very stormy, but I felt calm and waited although the enemy were within less than a quarter of mile of the house…After breakfast Saturday seeing some fifty horsemen approaching the house, I left running through a corn field, then an open field into some pine wood. I made my way to the next station, I think about two in the afternoon. I staid all night and returned Sunday morning. They enemy did not exceed as he expected. He wanted to burn a bridge here, but failed. Although there was near a thousand wagons about, he only destroyed some 30. He carried off some horses & mules and about 300 prisoners including teamsters, negroes, &c. Our regt. has lost about 60 men. I have lost Lt. Reinicker…I have only for duty 1 Sergt., 3 corpls, & about a dozen privates. I am very sorry for my poor fellows particularly for Lt. Reinicker…” A few days later Gibson writes, “…Some heavy battles have been fought during the past week. I believe on Saturday our Division was completely surrounded by the enemy. We got to this place last evening and are tis said in communication with Alexandria which is about 20 miles distant. Our march yesterday was a dreadful one, but I shall reserve a description of it till I see you…I know nothing of the enemy but have fears that he may have gotten into Maryland…”

Three days later, Gibson describes some of the Battle of Chantilly, and the “narrow escape” of their retreat. In two letters dated 4 and 7 September 1862, he writes “…We have suffered terribly since we left Catlett’s Station on Thursday last. We, that is Gen Banks Corps, have been cut off several times. Two nights we were completely surrounded by the enemy. When I wrote you on Monday we had just passed Manases where the day previous a terrible battle was fought, indeed fighting was going on in our hearing nearly all the time. On Tuesday afternoon we left near Bull Run and marched along, another corps marching in the same direction took a road to the left, we one to the right. About 6 o’clock those on the other road were attacked by the enemy. As they were not more than a mile from us we could hear the fight very distinctly and expected every minute to be in it. Our troops drove the enemy back but our loss was heavy. Genl’s Kearney & Stevens were killed. We came within sight of Washington about one o’clock yesterday morning…” He continues, “…the condition of the company and what heart I can have the poor fellows have lost nearly every thing, are very ragged, and cannot get time to even wash a shirt…On our retreat we made many narrow escapes. Our corps was cut off twice, but our general managed to get out of the scrape. We had to destroy immense property at Bristow Station, 5 locomotives more than 100 cars and immense quantities of ammunition, clothing, &c were burnt & blown up. It was a terrible time Sunday morning last. I was in our only ambulance when I was ordered out as they were going to burn it. I got out, but fortunately our quartermaster Mr. Foster who had a light wagon which he refused to destroy, took me up and I rode with him till Friday morning. We were ordered out of line many times, but managed to get along and overtook our regt. at Manasses when the day before our great battle was fought, had been compelled to walk. I would most likely have been taken by the enemy cavalry…”

Gibson also writes about the Second Battle of the Wilderness, though second-hand, on 9 May 1864, “…the army has been fighting ever since Wednesday morning. We could hear it nearly all the time although it was all very nearly musket firing. …They report the most desperate fighting of the whole war. Up to Saturday, very little advantage to either side. This battle took place in what is called The Wilderness and cannon could not be used. Our troops had turned the Rebel right after they had beaten back one corps. Burnside came up and whipped them. This morning three wounded men came over on a raft and reported 200 wounded at Acquia Creek that they were a part of 500 who being able to walk were ordered then to go to Washington. On their way the Rebel cavalry attacked them and captured 300. They being without arms except some dozen muskets. As the poor fellows had nothing to eat and were afraid of being attacked…I seized a schooner but it being dead calm, we could not move. I then took a fishing boat and taking some provisions and 16 men rowed over. What a sight was there. The poor fellows had built themselves rafts and were nearly all afloat except some fifty badly wounded. A large steam transport came up and soon we had all aboard. I brought our boys off and the gun boat I sent after came up. I got aboard and soon we heard firing below us in Potomac Creek. The Capt. and officers with their glasses saw a large number of men with a white flag and firing rapidly. Thinking them more of our wounded and that they were attacked by the Rebels. I asked him to run us down and put us ashore in his boats. He did. We filled two large boats with men and ran up the creek. Soon we saw some men, but of course did not know who they were. We soon found them ours and that they were an escort of cavalry with two officers having important dispatches for Washington. They bring good news. The battle began on Wednesday morning and has never ceased since up to Saturday morning. The advantage was to neither. We had lost most men in wounded. Saturday morning the Rebels showed signs of retreat and after a desperate stand at Spottsylvania Court House, we succeeded in driving them back and were still driving them and I think must be still doing so as we cannot now hear the firing…Up to Saturday morning we had 15,000 wounded and some 3000 killed. Gen’l Burnside saved the day on Friday. His Maryland negroes fought splendid and captured some 1500 prisoners but wanted to kill them saying ‘We will give you Fort Pillow.’ The Maryland brigade has been dreadfully cut up. The 1st MD suffered terribly. Col. Horn of the 6th was safe so far, the Major of the 6th is killed. Genl’s Wadsworth, Hays, & Seymour of our army are killed. Gen’l Longstreet of the Rebels badly wounded, so say the Richmond papers. Our men are for the most part but slightly wounded. This battle was fought in what is called The Wilderness…” Later in May he writes, “…Gen. Grants army is said to be as large as ever and he is reported to have said that he will never retreat but the army if need be will return in ambulances…”

With much more content, including an officer being court-martialed for sexual relations with young girls and interesting stories about Confederate women in Winchester killing soldiers. Letters are in very good condition, very readable with only light soiling and toning to most. With near complete transcriptions.

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