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    Description

    Four Letters Relating to Union POWs. A group of letters, both to and from Federal prisoners of war. Of varying size and all war-dated, these letters provide an excellent look at the varying experiences of Union soldiers while held captive and of the experiences of their families. Two of the letters are accompanied by their original transmittal covers, which note that the letters were transported on the Flag of Truce Boat.

    In December 1864, Union prisoner W.S. Baskin was held at the Florence Stockade, which had been opened just three months earlier. Historians now believe that Florence prison was even worse than Andersonville, with almost one in three dying while imprisoned there. However, in his letter, Baskin appears to be coping rather well. Two pages, 8" x 10", "Prison Camp near Florence"; December 19, 1864, in part:

    "...I have not got much news of any kind the exchanging of Prisoners have stop which you will see by the papers. I was in hopes they would of continued until all would have been exchanged. I was in hopes you would have received my letter in which I stated about my socks but you may have some other chance before long. I can get along tolerable well for something to come as I have good friends that I can borrow a pair so that mine can be washed. We are getting on finely in the Mess have plenty to eat yet and good appetites to eat with so much so I have gained a few pounds...you need not have no fear as long as we stay here as the duty is not very arduous only four hours every other day much lighter than at the Point but I do not know how soon we may have to go & when. The impression prevails amongst the boys informed that if the Prisoners are moved to below Columbia we will go with them as we are detailed as Artillery and as the removal came from Gen. Hinder...The removal will commence as soon as the [illegible] is finished below Columbia about 4 miles..."

    The second letter is from Reverend John Hussey who worked in the U.S. Christian Commission Office. Reverend Hussey wrote to Frederick Starr Esq. of New York, on behalf of Starr's son, Captain George Starr. The two men were held at Libby Prison, and Starr was able to smuggle a letter out with Rev. Hussey when a group of surgeons and chaplains were released in November 1863. Two pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8", Washington, D.C.; November 13, 1863. The letter reads, in full:

    "I met your son George in 'Libby' prison Richmond Va this day week. He is well & desired me to write to you & saw so & say also that he wants $10.00. Let me suggest however that you send him a box of 'things from home' - such as a change of shirts and drawers, a towel, soap, sponge, socks, a pair of small scissors, tooth brush, a few needles, thread, buttons, but especially things to eat: sugar, coffee, tea, condensed milk, ham, dried beef, jellies, canned fruit, a plate, cup, knife and fork, spoon. I judge from experience and not from any word from him - the money may be rolled in tin foil and placed in a roll of butter - with gold or greenbacks. I could not recollect his individual request, except about the money, which I took down." The box and money were to be sent "care of Major Jn E. Mulford, Flag of Truce officer - By Express, paid, to Fortress Monroe and he will get it."

    One letter, dated March 30, 1864, is from Confederate prisoner, Corporal William S. Wall of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry, who was imprisoned at Rock Island. In this letter to his mother, one page, 7.75" x 9.75", Wall asks for news of his friends and family, and laments the fact that he is missing family gatherings. It reads, in part:

    "I have hardly ever felt my imprisonment to chafe me, as it does now, when I could enjoy myself, so much, if I was there and could see them [family members]. Never mind - this thing can't last always - they cannot keep me forever - that's one consolation. I would like to hear of all my old friends, and acquaintances, about St. Louis & Columbia - who are married and who are dead. What has become of Miss Ellen Farrar, or rather Mrs. Kennett, on of Sister Maria's neighbors - I once had a notion to set up to her strong, but didn't exactly like the style - ask Sister M if she remembers that awful low-necked dress. And there was Miss Mary Graves. Did she marry that red-headed Z. Chambers...My box has not yet arrived and I am suffering for Tobacco."

    The last letter in the grouping is from another unique perspective, this time from a wife to her husband in prison at Johnston's Island, Ohio. Mrs. Allen wrote to her husband, Rev. Captain Littleberry W. Allen to keep him informed of his unit while he was imprisoned. Two pages, 8" x 10.5", Applewood, Virginia; December 31, 1863. She wrote, in part:

    "...I feel so grateful that the authorities are thus mindful of the prisoners & their families...I do not know anything about the Battalion. Two of the companies have been captured near Chas. City...we heard your B's was one of them, but it is not so. Mr. Stern wrote me that your Co. was now at Chas. City...the boys were well & cheerful tho faring rather hard."

    Condition: All letters have usual mail folds. One letter has some separations along folds where weakness occurred. Some uneven foxing on some letters, with very light toning. Overall good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2018
    25th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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