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    Archive of Union Soldiers' Letters Addressed to Mary Winant. Just under 35 letters, all addressed to Mary H. Winant, along with other documents and papers. Many of the letters are from Mary's family members, including her brother James, her cousin George F. Reagan, and her uncle James E. Reagan, as well as a few other friends. All of the letters in the archive are war-dated.

    James wrote to his sister November 10, 1861, after his unexpected enlistment. It appears that he had not intended to join the army, but was swept up in the fervor of joining up after many of the young men from their hometown answered the call. He wrote to Mary from Campbell Camp, in Washington D.C.: "I was expecting to come down the first of November but Mr. Alfred Dart was getting up a Company of cavalry & quite a number of the Herrick boys put their names to the list & wanted me so I did not mean to back out. I put my name to the list the 15th of October & started for Harrisburg the 23 I had but a little time to get reddy [sic] to go with that company as I should have come to see...I have been in to the Capital & I saw a site the city is well surrounded by our northern troops we expect to hear of a battle every day on the other side of the Potomac. There was about 20,000 soldiers left since Friday."

    Despite having seemingly joined the Union Army on a whim, James Winant took his duty very seriously. Two weeks later, James told his sister in a November 23 letter, "I should like to see you but I do not know when that will be but I shall not leave without orders if I was shure that I would never be found out I never would. I will die in the battlefield before I be a Diserter [sic] never I came to Fite [sic] for my country and I shall if called on and never flinch in that course." However, that did not mean that James was thrilled with life in the army. James' January 15, 1862 letter reads, "...I hope you enjoy your new year well although I did not enjoy mine very well for I had to stand on guard and that is the worst part of soldiering we have to be out in all kinds of weather and the weather is very changeable. One day it is almost like summer and the next day it is cold enough to freeze a person... It takes 104 men to guard our camp..." Moreover, by February 25, James was thoroughly tired of being at Camp Campbell, saying, "Our Regiment is No.1 & it is referred for the City Provost Guards. There is two Companys out of our regiment guarding the city now & we expect to go in a week. We expect to get our horses this week. I would rather be in the army acrost [sic] the Potomac for I am getting tird [sic] of guarding this old camp. When we get to the city we will have better times. There has been quite a move for the last two weeks. The federal troops has got a strong hold of the rebels & I hope they will keep on crossing it..."

    Writing back to her brother, Mary tried to offer her brother some comforting words, although she was worried about him being sent into battle. In a letter written on April 28, Mary wrote to James to beg him to put his faith in God, and she included a poem to know she was always thinking of him:

    "O James how it cheers my Lonely Heart to hear from you...that you would not be cald [sic] to the battlefield but since I read your last letter wich [sic] informs me that you have been ordered to march in pursuit of the Enemy. My hope is well nigh expired though I know Dear Brother that you have Enlysted [sic] in a noble cause and given your heart and hand to your Country and now there is one step more noble for you to take, and that is give your heart and head to God, and you will be indeed a brave soldier..."

    Mary also received a few letters from her cousin George and her uncle James Regean, as well as from numerous friends from home and other soldiers. One letter, dated August 26, 1862, is from a friend "M. McPherson", who wrote to her with news of her cousin:

    "G.F. Regean started for the Hospital this morning. He was wounded yesterday in a Battle between Shepherds Town and Winchester his wound is through the left hand the ball passed through his hand and spoiled the pocket in his shirt his glasses and his pocket combs beside bruising his side right smart. His wounds were very Lucky ones if there is any such. At the time George was wounded we were just going to charge he went to the Rear the Regt charged and we received a Perfect Shower of Rebel Compliments. There was a whole Brigade of Reb Infantry lying in ambush when we charged upon the Hill. They raised up there position was such they had a cross fire upon us..."

    Included at the end of archive are a number of documents and forms from after the war and during the turn of the century. They appear to be unrelated directly to Mary Winant, although they could have belonged to her family and descendants. There are also a number of transmittal covers addressed to Mary Winant. This archive is an interesting providing the experiences of war from numerous different perspectives, showing how the war affected extended families and whole communities.

    Condition: The letters range from very good to good. All the letters have usual mail folds and light wear, with some toning at creases and edges. A few letters have had sections removed. Light foxing and soiling is present in some areas.


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