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Auction Name: 2020 November 12 Historical Manuscripts Signature Auction - Dallas
Lot Number: 47067
Shortcut to Lot: HA.com/6228-47067
Archive of Letters of George H. Starr, Captain, Company D, 104th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, from Various Confederate Prisons.
The archive consists of 8 letters, various sizes, dating from August 11, 1863 to January 5, 1865. The letters are written to either Starr's mother or father; three are written from Libby Prison, one from a prison in Danville, Virginia, one from a prison in Macon, Georgia, and two from prisons in South Carolina. Two cancelled postal covers are also included.
The first letter in the archive is from Starr to his mother from Libby Prison, dated August 11, 1863, a little over a month after he was captured at Gettysburg. In addition to describing the weather and the food, he writes that prospects of exchange of prisoners "appear somewhat more favorable
" and that the "authorities here are more considerate in their treatment of us than we anticipated, but still one can never know the nature of confinement, in the fullest save without having experienced it
." Unfortunately for Starr, prisoner exchanges had been suspended. His letters are mostly positive in tone, no doubt because he knew they were being read by camp officers. In a letter to his mother, dated November 19, Starr is still hopeful about a prisoner exchange, stating that "Lieut Col. Irvine of Bath N.Y. (Who was released from here from here a month ago) has just been appointed Asst Commissioner for Exchange of Prisoners. We are much gratified at this, as he is a capable and humane man, & well posted as to the affairs of the prisoners here
." Starr's final letter from Libby prison in the archive is to his father, dated January 11, 1864. In it he still expresses hope for a prisoner exchange and claims that not all things are bad at Libby. "We were allowed to burn candles until 9 in the evening. New Year's night we burned them until 11, & the authorities very kindly offer to allow us the same privilege in regard to lights, on every succeeding N. Year's night, while we remain...don't imagine that we do not sometimes enjoy ourselves here... Still hoping the Old Uncle Abe will let us out some day
After Starr escaped from Libby prison through an underground tunnel and was soon recaptured. He was sent temporarily to a prison camp in Danville, Virginia, and then to a camp in Macon, Georgia, probably Camp Oglethorpe, on April 1, 1864. His only letter in the archive from this prison is dated, May 21, 1864. Writing to his father, Starr describes his accommodations. "Our quarters are quite comfortable, we are sheltered from the heat; have an area about 3 ½ acres (for 900 officers) & have a good supply of water. Our rations too are better than they were at Libby.
" He then urges assistance for a prisoner exchange. "I would again urge that something be done to secure my special exchange. Officers have not been exchanged heretofore according to date of capture; so that there is no telling when I may get out, unless Specially provided for
Starr escaped from camp on July 28, 1864, was recaptured, on August 12, he was sent to prisoner of war camps in South Carolina, first in Charleston and then to Camp Sorghum in Columbia, South Carolina. Writing to his father from camp in Charleston, Starr again refers to the possibility of a prisoner exchange. "In case you do not succeed in efforts to obtain a special exchange for me & there are no signs of a general exchange please send immediately $25.00 Green Backs to me
." He claimed that "rations are good and our accommodations very passable
." On October 10, the day he escaped from Camp Sorghum, Starr wrote a letter to his father, in which he requests that his father send him a box of clothing, including a military jacket, "small buttons well padded and sleeves lined with stuckey. Also send vest, dark blue pants; 2 shirts woolen, 2 pair drawers, 2 pr. Socks, one pair No. 7 Gaiters; one cap (size 7 ¾), towels, soap, needles, thread, some medicines, salts, Jamaica Ginger, pills seidletz powders. Put in old carpet bag in one of the boxes if you have one. Send the two boxes to me as soon as possible
The final letter in the archive is written to Starr's father from the War Department in Washington, D.C., dated January 5, 1865. In the letter Starr mentions getting certain boxes that were shipped to him, presumably ones that were shipped to Camp Sorghum. He also mentioned that he received his pay "in full of all arrears, etc. to Jany 1 st
.", and that he "made application this day for an order to be mustered out here. I am to have an answer tomorrow
." His wish was granted.
Each letter is accompanied by a typed transcription. A photocopy of Starr's article "In and Out of Confederate Prisons," published in 1897, is also included in the archive. Condition:
The letters have the usual folds, otherwise they are in good condition.