"Our gallant boys . . . jumped up amid the leaden shower, seized their guns & went into the Johnies like a dose of salt"[134th New York Infantry Regiment]. Captain William Mickle Archive, consisting in part of over eighty Civil War-dated letters dated December 6, 1862, through May 30, 1865. Also included are two photographs and numerous post-war letters, battle descriptions, and documents. The war-dated letters are written from Mickle to various family members, and consist of significant content on the midnight battle at Wauhatchie, Tennessee, as well as content on the Chattanooga Campaign, the Atlanta Campaign, the March to the Sea, and the final campaign through the Carolinas. The archive has been well cared for and organized. The papers bear expected age-toning, minor foxing, and soiling.
The 134th New York Infantry Regiment mustered in for three years on September 1862. At the age of twenty-three, William Mickle (1838-1922) enlisted as a private in August 1862 at Duanesburg, New York, into Co. "H" of the regiment. He received several promotions throughout his service in the Civil War - 1st sergeant, 1st lieutenant, sergeant, 2nd lieutenant, and finally captain. The regiment participated in numerous engagements, including Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. For a short period, he served as adjutant-general for General O. O. Howard; at Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, he served under General U. S. Grant; and while serving under General Thomas Hooker, he was appointed Commissary and Quartermaster of a brigade of six batteries. He transferred to Co. "C" on June 16, 1865, and was discharged on June 9, 1865. After the war, Mickle became an educator and a Methodist minister serving large churches in New York.
Included are two photographs of Mickle. One is a war-dated carte de visite featuring Mickle standing in uniform in a studio. The other is a cabinet card showing Mickle circa 1870. The card is stamped by Peck and Sons photographers. Both photos are very clean, with only very minor spots.
Many of Mickle's war-dated letters retain their original transmittal envelopes. On December 19, 1862, only days after the Battle of Fredericksburg, Mickle writes that the battle "was a hard fight. Our troops had no breastworks & had to march right in front of a hundred cannon & they were slaughtered off like sheep. . . . Our Lieutenant Colonel found our pickets & the Rebel pickets trading coffee for tobacco. Our boys had the coffee & the Rebels had the tobacco. . . . So goes this war business." (Mickle's regiment arrived at Fredericksburg too late to participate in the main battle.) On May 8, two days after the end of the Battle of Chancellorsville, Mickle informed his parents that he had "been in the terrific fight across the Rappahannock." On May 26, 1863, he expresses strong feelings toward the Confederate leadership following the death of Stonewall Jackson: "we hear favorable news form the S.W. I hope Genl. Grant will accomplish all we anticipate. Genl. Jackson (or Stonewall Jackson) is dead. I wish all the Rebel leaders would either die or give up their deluded principles." Following the Battle of Gettysburg, he writes about the Union pursuit of Lee's fleeing army on July 21, 1863: In part, "We are again in Va. pursuing the flying Rebels as we move toward Richmond. Our Cavalry & Flying Artillery are constantly falling upon their rear making sad havoc among their trains & capturing many prisoners."
Mickle and the 134th participated in the Chattanooga Campaign in October and November 1863. From "Head Quarters Artillery II Corps. Lookout Valley, Tenn." on November 4, 1863, just six days after the Battle of Wauhatchie, which began at midnight on October 28, he wrote home about the battle. The suddenness of the Confederate assault took the Union Army by surprise. "Well you must not be surprised to see that we are now in Lookout Valley under that notorious mountain, where the Rebs have been stationed this long time, occasionally popping a 20 pound shell into the town of Chattanooga at our boys. But Fighting Joe Hooker knows how to skedaddle the Johnies! Our troops moved from Bridgeport, Ala. last week to this place but after they had driven the Rebs from the valley had all quietly lain down to sleep about 12 O'clock at night, they came down from the mountain & pounced upon us, evidently with the intent to annihilate us, but our gallant boys 'couldn't see it in that light' as they say, so they jumped up amid the leaden shower, seized their guns & went into the Johnies like a dose of salt. . . . The fight lasted till about 3 in the morning when our boys charged up the heights & drove them in confusion from field." (Mickle gives another account in another letter to Oleavia, his wife.)
As the presidential election of 1864 grew closer, Mickle's letters contained some of his political opinions. For example, in one dated October 26, 1864, he writes that "One or two such triumphs before Election would make McClellan retire from the scene in disgust. 'Honest Abe' would run alone! The Darkies had a torchlight procession here the other night & a 'Little Mac' satellite threw stones into the crowd when one of the Guards sent him his compliments in the shape of a blue-gill!"
Numerous letters contain content about Mickle march with Sherman toward the Atlantic. From "around Atlanta" the soldier wrote on August 4, 1864, "We are advancing the right wing of our army toward East Point about 6 miles below Atlanta. . . . Our cavalry burned 700 wagons of Hood's Head Quarter train & their supply train & did them much damage." Later on December 19, 1864, "Before Savannah," the officer wrote that "Genl. Sherman sent in a demand for the surrender of the city & rec'd the reply yesterday at 10 a.m. of course it was in the negative & we are to take the place in Sherman's own time." Days later on Christmas Eve in Savannah, the soldier wrote his wife to "narrate to others that your husband has been with Sherman in both his brilliant campaigns & shared the glory so justly attributed to the captors of Atlanta & Savannah." The work wasn't finished, though: "he [Sherman] may have another short campaign prepared for us through South Carolina." Mickle's final letters were written during that final campaign under Sherman in North and South Carolina. From Goldsborough, North Carolina, on April 9, 1865 (the day of Lee's surrender), he writes, "We may have a little fighting here with Joe Johnston, but it will not amount to much now. Our army alone can whip the Confederacy combined while Grant has his mighty army ready with Thomas in East Tenn. with another large body of troops." Events continued to occur quickly during April. Mickle reports on April 22, 1865, about the sad news of the assassination of President Lincoln: "Of course, you have heard all about the cruel assassination of our late President. . . . All had begun to appreciate the virtues of that great & noble man. . . . Our Country has lost one of her ablest statesmen & the South have killed their best friend he was just ready to forgive them the highest crime a man can be guilty of, viz., treason."
Mickle's 1864 leather-bound journal is also included. (The journal was printed for the 1863 calendar year, but Mickle used it for 1864, often striking through the printed dates.) The journal includes important content regarding the Atlanta Campaign. For example in his entry for May 8, 1864, he writes about the Battle of Rocky Face Ridge, "Moved 6 miles & attacked . . . [illegible] in Rocky Face Ridge under Genl [John W.] Geary & made several charges but could not carry the fight and held them. lost severely. Returned alone to Hed. Qrs. about 9 P.M. Quietly well 'played out.'" Lists and other military-related annotations are also included. Near the back are two-pages of verse from a "Darkey Melody" written in the vernacular of slaves. Mickle's war-dated roll book (leather-bound, 3" x 5.75") circa 1862 is also included containing lists of soldier's names from Co. "H."
In addition are many pages of Mickle's post-war manuscript notes and narratives of his war-time service, with titles such as "Thomas' on the assault of the Ridge," "Pollard on this assault of Mission Ridge," and "On Barbarities of our Soldiers." Notes also included are those on the Gettysburg campaign, the March to the Sea, and more.
Seven letters written to Mickle during the war are additionally included. One example is a two-page letter written from two Southern belles from Arellton, Virginia, transmitting gifts to Union officers and asking Mickle to visit. The ladies sign "Secesh" after their names, but they address the letter to "Lieutenant Mickle / 'not' Yankey."
Numerous post-war items are included, most dated from the late-1860s through the first decade of the 1900s: Mickle's 1894 diary, military pension documents, estate documents, insurance policies, Methodist documents, newspaper articles, election documents, telegraphs, personal family items, prayer and sermon notes, a letter of commendation for Mickle's war-time service signed by New York Gov. Reuben Fenton (1866), and numerous letters and envelopes. Also included is Mickle's copy of Mackey's Masonic Ritualist: or Monitorial Instructions (New York: Clark & Maynard, 1867, 611 pages). The front cover is near detachment. Mickle's Master Mason certificate dated 1871 is included.
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