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    Andrew Crawford of the 120th Ohio Archive. A small archive of letters from the young private to his father. Crawford enlisted in August 1862 at the age of 18 and was mustered into Company D of the Ohio 120th Infantry. There are 14 letters, almost all 4 pages in length, measuring 9.5" x 7.75". They are all war-dated, ranging from January 18, 1863 to May 7, 1864.

    One of Crawford's first letters home is written to his father and details his small involvement in the Vicksburg Campaign and the capturing of Fort Hindman. The Battle of Fort Hindman, also known as the Battle of Arkansas Post, was fought at the mouth of the Arkansas River. The fort was guarded by a large amount of Texas cavalrymen along with Arkansas infantry. Although the Union succeeded in capturing the fort, the victory did little to aid them in their move towards Vicksburg. Crawford's January 27, 1863 letter reads, in part, "I was at visburg [sic] at new years I was in the battle two days the bullets came pretty close to me some fell beside my side the third day I got sick and I came to the boat...we went up the river and took a fort up the white river and took 4000 prisoners and 200 mules 100 horses and wagons 10000 bushels of corn."

    Disease ran rampant through both the Union and Confederate armies, and was a large contributor in the overall death toll. Some believed it was better to send the ill home before they could infect others in their companies, despite the loss of fighting troops. As Crawford wrote on April 30, 1863 from Wilkens Bend Lea, "The governor of Illinois is a comeing here to send all the ill men home that are not able for duty...the men are diing [sic] very fast. It averages over 5 every day yesterday there was 21 coffins that had a man in each of them that was not buried."

    One month later, Crawford's regiment was still active in the Vicksburg Campaign, having fought at the battle of Grand Gulf. This time, Grant sent the Union navy to attack the batteries downriver from Vicksburg, located at Grand Gulf, Mississippi. Crawford's account reads, written on May 4, in part: "Our regt is at grand gulf there have been fiting [sic] for the last give days we heard that they had whipped the rebels they said they had planted two pieces of artillery which they loaded with musket balls and the rebels came and encamped right before the cannon and when the rebels was not on awear [sic] of our men was so near and the artillery men let loose on them and cut them all to pieces and the cavalry charged on them and took several hundred men."

    One of Crawford's later letters also provides a rare account of the Union's failed Red River Campaign that resulted in the death of Col. Spiegel, one of the Civil War's highest ranking Jewish officers. Born in Germany, Marcus M. Spiegel came to the United States in the mid 1840's and joined the Union army soon after the outbreak of the Civil War. He had a very promising military career but was sadly killed after he was struck by a shell fragment while reinforcing General Nathaniel P. Banks' retreating army as it made its down the Red River. Rebel artillery fire on the Union boats forced a quick evacuation, and it was during this bombardment that Col. Spiegel was struck. He was captured by the rebels and died the following day. Andrew Crawford was one of the lucky few who survived the artillery barrage at Snaggy Point, and described the experience in a May 7, 1864 letter, in part:

    "...i came here yesterday from red river we was sent up there on the 1st of this month but the first day we was in red river the boat was captured by the rebs and killed and wounded and took prisoners one half of our regt. the col was killed i was on the upper deck of the boat and the balls came into us like hail but I got off unhurt I staid all night in the woods and all next day but the 56th Ohio came down the river and i got on the boat with them and they was fired into and killed a good many men and they had to get off their own boat and we marched down the river some distance and there we took the gunboat and came here and I lost everything I had only what I had on at the time..."

    Andrew Crawford only remained with the army for a few more months. He was discharged on disability in September 1864, and died sometime later that year.

    Condition: The letters have the usual mail folds, and have some light toning and soiling at the edges and along the creases. Some ink was smudged when the letters were written, but all the text is legible. Overall very good.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
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