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    Union Soldier John Nash Archive , dated January 1861 through December 1891. Most letters were written during the Civil War from Private Nash to family members; many letters are also included from family and friends.

    A resident of Hudson, Wisconsin, Private Nash mustered into Company "A" in the Wisconsin 30th Infantry and spent much of the war at Camp Randall in Madison. In the first letter, dated January 6, 1863, from the camp, Nash complains to his brother that "the health in camp is not very good. One of Co. E. died in the Hospital to day; the disease was first measles then constriction[?] of the lungs." According to the regiment's surgeon, the cause of much of their illness was "soap in the bread," which one soldier had discovered. "The infernal bakers had used Soap Suds in place of hop or salt to raise their bread."

    During the Civil War, Camp Randall served as a training camp for Union recruits and a prison camp for Confederate soldiers. Young Private Nash reports in many of his letters about the prison and prisoners. "A large prison and guard house has been built here. an acre of ground is fenced in with a fence sixteen feet high around this fence on the outside three feet from the top is a walk for sentinels and sentinel box at each corner. . . ." On December 1, 1863, Nash relates an account of two breakout attempts, one which resulted in death when "one of the prisoners belonging to the 35th Regt. assaulted him (the guard) and attempted to take away his gun and get away when the guard struck the prisoner on the head which resulted in death." On December 14, 1863, the Union soldier writes, "The prison is getting pretty well filled with substitutes. They have made many attempts to get away but none of them have succeeded yet. One of them was shot by the guard a few days since he was shot through the arm and thigh. he was trying to climb over on some kind of ladder."

    On occasions, Nash's company was sent to other locations. For example, on July 20, 1863, Nash wrote from New Digginins, Wisconsin, over eighty miles from Camp Randall. It was a place where the people were "all either Irish or English. the Irish are nearly all copperheads while the English are good Union men and women."

    The letters contain interesting accounts of camp life and troop movements. Throughout, Nash often complains of sickness, bad food and coffee, and lack of money and other supplies. He mustered out of service in August 1865.

    Included with Nash's letters are letters from family members and friends. In one of those letters, "Wm. W. S." informs his father (August 3, 1862) that he hasn't enlisted yet, but he fears that the "rebels are making unparalleled efforts to mass a large army in & about Richmond so as to drive our forces from Virginia - that done they will be recognized by foreign powers. . . .still I most decidedly object to the policy of takin northern men down into the malarious swamps about Richmond, there to dig their own graves, when I have ample testimony for believing that there are thousands of loyal men that are acclimated, and ready to work & perhaps fight if we will only hold out to them the right inducement - freedom."

    Also included is a grieving poem for a deceased child and a small ledger book without the cover containing the names of soldiers and a "list of articles bought by me while in the Service of the United States of America commencing from the time I left Hudson Oct. 12th 1862." The final letter, written in September 1891, is an invitation for a "Re-Union" of the NY 153rd Infantry written in an interesting German-English dialect. All items are handwritten and have been well cared for.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2011
    13th-14th Tuesday-Wednesday
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