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    A Pair of Brothers Write to Family Shortly Before Their Deaths

    Confederate Soldiers Colonel James Barbour Terrill and First Lieutenant Philip M. Terrill Autograph Letters Signed. Representing two of four brothers who served during the war (three for the Confederacy, one as a general in the Union Army), these two letters were written shortly before each man was killed.

    The earliest, a three page letter, 5.5" x 9.25", written by Col. James B. Terrill to his father, Col. William Henry Terrill, from the headquarters of the 13th Virginia Infantry on April 12, 1864, discusses the upcoming Overland Campaign - "which is profound in its import to us all." Terrill writes, in part: "It is not yet generally understood whether the attack will be made by Lee or Grant; should the attack be made by Gen Grant it is more than probable that it will surpass in size anything of the kind in which the 'Army of Northern Va' has ever participated. Gen. Early has expressed his intentions to push my regiment 'in up to the hat band' We will all however have our full share of whatever may occur. My regiment will be at least (350) strong excluding recruits. The Engineer Corps is now busily engaged strengthening & increasing the defences [sic] of our present line. . . . It is rumored that a portion of Gen Polk's corps is in this vicinity, having recently arrived from the west." Col. Terrill was killed six weeks later at the Battle of Bethesda Church. He was posthumously promoted to brigadier general.

    The later letter, four integral pages, 5.25" x 8", written to by Lt. Philip M. Terrill to Dr. George P. Terrill (the brother of James and Philip and commander in a Confederate militia and home guard unit) from the camp of the 12th Virginia Cavalry near Forestville, Virginia, on October 22, 1864, discusses the army's recent defeats during Sheridan's Valley Campaign, particularly the recent Battle of Cedar Creek three days earlier, in part: "Since arriving here, we have scarcely had a day of rest, & have experienced nothing but reverses & disaster. You have doubtless heard of the rout of Early's Army on the 19th inst. [Cedar Creek] after successfully surprising the enemy & carrying everything before them 'till a late hour in the day. . . . This time there can be no question as to whom we should impute the fault. Genl. Early's place was admirable as the success in the morning proves. There was no giving way of the Cavalry on the flanks. It was the cowardice of the Infantry & nothing else that lost the day & with it, the fruits of the morning's victory. Our command was on the left of the army & performed its part. Our loss was very slight, principally from artillery fire - we were not closely engaged at any time during the day with the exception of a charge the 11th Regt. made upon one of the Enemy's Batteries. . . . This is the third engagement I have participated in since we came to the Valley - and though we have been unsuccessful . . . I still feel thankful that the hand of Providence has been outstretched to shield me from harm & that I am still spared to the service of my country in the hour of her sorest need." Unfortunately, time was running out for Philip Terrill. He was killed three weeks later near Winchester, Virginia.

    The fourth brother, mentioned above, was Union Gen. William R. Terrill, a career U.S. soldier who had served during the Seminole Wars and in Bleeding Kansas before the Civil War. He was the first of the brothers killed after sustaining a mortal wound from a shell fragment at the Battle of Perryville, October 8, 1862. Only George Terrill survived the war. Both letters show the expected folds and age toning.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2015
    12th-13th Friday-Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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