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    [Union Soldier Stationed in Texas]. Private Robert H. Crist Autograph Letters (6) Signed. All are dated between December 30, 1863, and May 26, 1864, and written to family members. Crist includes fascinating information in one letter about the Colored troops of the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery. In all, he writes from three different locations in Texas: "Camp Desolate, De Crow's Point," Pass Cavallo, and Matagorda Island. The letters have been well cared for, with only minor staining and age toning.

    Private Robert Crist hailed from Martin County, Indiana, and enlisted in July 1861 in the 21st Indiana Infantry. By the time he wrote these letters, however, he had transferred to the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery, Co. "L". He mustered out in January 1866. In his first letter of this group written on December 30, 1863, from "Camp Desolate, De Crow's Point Texas," Crist relates how he traveled with his company from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, where he boarded the steamship Clinton bound for Decros Point (near Houston). Crist then describes the area and the weather, and he explains why he and his fellow Union soldiers are there.

    On March 29, 1864, the private writes from Matagorda Island about the colored troops of the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery, who landed at Pass Cavallo, Texas, on December 31, 1863. Less than two weeks later, the colored troops garrisoned at Matagorda Island until May 19, 1864. Crist informs his sister in this letter that "The darkees (14th Rhode Island Regt) at Fort Experanza were badly alarmed and as your Iowa friends may wish to know Something about the colored troops of New England, I can give you a very good Idea as I have become Somewhat aquainted with the White Officers of the 14th." With a negative view toward the idea of colored troops, Crist gives an account of how white officers became officers of the 14th, summarizing his view of those officers as "the Sickest sett I ever saw." The "darkees," however, "are pretty Smart. Very Saucy being pampered at Home in R.I." Crist continues with a description of the bad feelings between the local freedmen ("a regt of contraband") and the 14th ("nut-meg nigs"). In the end, Crist hoped that "the government will Enlist & draft all the darkees and get them Some place where they will get a chance to fight for their freedom."

    Other letters (January 27, 1864, February 12, 1864, May 7, 1864, and May 26, 1864) describe Crist's time along the Texas coast, along with further descriptions of troop movements, the coastal Texas topography, and the strange Texas weather. Three original envelopes are included.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    March, 2015
    14th Saturday
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