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    Union Colonel William H. Noble Autograph Letter Signed Regarding the Battle of Gettysburg, with a Carte de Visite and Copies of Retained Letters. The letter is four pages, 8" x 13.75", "On March south from Gettysburg"; July 6, 1863, from Noble to his wife Harriet; a carte de visite of Noble, 2.25" x 3.5" albumin print on a 2.5" x 4" mount, circa 1865; plus five copies of retained letters, 7.75" x 9.75" dated from January 6, 1864 to January 29, 1864.

    In his detailed letter to his wife, written over several days from July 6 to July 9, 1863, Noble, recuperating from his wounds received at Chancellorsville the previous May, describes his rush to rejoin his regiment at Gettysburg in time for the battle. He writes, "All the way we could hear the booming of the great guns proclaiming a severe action the whole day. I arrived too late to take any part in the action & too much fagged out to do much of anything but get to a spot for myself & horse for the night....I found myself when I arrived here in command of the Brigade. The 1st duty next morning was to take them into Gettysburg & to extend a line of skirmishers beyond the town. We were however in a few hours relieved and returned to the position which the Brigade had held during the fight. We remained here over Saturday in a drizzling rain Saturday night & much of Sunday was a heavy rain which God had sent to stop the flight of the foe....The papers will give you full details of the whole 3 days actions & successive attacks & repulses. I of course only know anything by information and as that comes almost entirely from my own corps, it concerns mostly their own action. The Regiment behaved most splendidly as did the whole corps. The 1st day they lost most terribly charging through the town with the rest of the corps & with the utmost dash at double quick. The enemy were however too strong for them & they were after great loss forced to retreat to the range of hills. On the 2nd day the Brigade & the 17th in line did some most bold & effective fighting at one time repulsing a much larger force. Col. [Douglas] Fowler was killed the 1st day. Major [Allen G.] Brady took command for the balance of that part of the 2nd day & he was wounded in the evening about eight."

    Noble then describes the Union Army's pursuit of General Lee's Confederate army in the wake of the battle under difficult circumstances. The soldiers were "constantly on the move 3 or 4 hours sleep each night. Yesterday we marched through the wet mud & rain about 22 miles with 100 bare feet in the [?]. The poor fellows suffer terribly. It is one of those things which should be met more promptly though I know the Govt. have great trouble on its hands & usually anticipates the wants of the soldiers. But this army did not stop its pursuit of the enemy. We distributed in the brigade today 200 pairs of shoes for bare foot men & this a command of not over 500 men. So you may see with what heroic endurance the men of this army bear their hardships & how much [true?] pluck they have."

    In addition to this letter and the carte de visite, which appears to show Noble with his brigadier general epaulets, there are five copies of retained letters written to Noble by Gustavus Blau, captain and acting major, 54th Regiment, New York Volunteers; N. C. McLean, brigadier general in the Department of the Ohio; George Henry Gordon, Brigadier General; [A. Ames]; and Leopold Von Gilsa, colonel of the De Kalb Regiment, 41st New York Infantry Regiment, commending Noble for his bravery and leadership in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg in support of a promotion to a higher rank.

    Condition: The Gettysburg letter has wear along the top crease; otherwise good. The carte de visite has faded a bit, but Noble's image is otherwise clearly visible. The retained copies have the usual folds and age toning.

    More Information:

    William Henry Noble (1813-1894) was born in Newtown, Connecticut, and graduated from Yale with a degree in law. After teaching for a while, he became the attorney general for the State of Connecticut in 1846. After the death of his father, Noble entered into a partnership with P. T. Barnum to develop land he inherited in East Bridgeport, Connecticut. After the Civil War broke out, he enlisted on July 22, 1862 as colonel in the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. The regiment was mustered in on August 28, 1862. He was wounded in the arm and leg at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia, on May 2, 1863. Although still recuperating, Noble rushed to join his men at the Battle of Gettysburg, arriving near the end of the three-day engagement. He was captured on December 24, 1864 in Horse Landing, Florida, during a foraging raid, and was imprisoned at Andersonville. He survived that notorious Confederate prison camp and was paroled on April 8, 1865 at Macon, Georgia. He received a brevet promotion to Brigadier General on March 13, 1865 on the recommendation of General Ulysses S. Grant. He mustered out of the service on July 19, 1865. After the war, Noble continued his law practice in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and was involved in civic and political life of that city until his death. Noble was married to Harriet Jones Noble (1818-1901) and together they had five children.


    The 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was organized in Bridgeport, Connecticut, on August 28, 1862, under the command of Colonel Noble. The regiment saw action at the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Horse Landing (Florida), and Braddock's Farm (Florida). The regiment mustered out of service on July 19, 1865.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2018
    18th Wednesday
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