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    Description

    James H. Barton, Michigan 8th Infantry, Two Photographs and Five Letters. A group of five war dated letters by James H. Barton of the 8th Michigan Infantry, who was killed in action shortly after the Battle of Fort Pulaski during a reconnaissance mission on Wilmington Island. Barton enlisted at the age of 21 as a private in August of 1861. He and his younger brother, William E. Barton, were mustered into Company H of the MI 8th Infantry. The letters date from November 20, 1861 to February 26, 1862. The group also includes at least one letter by Barton not war-dated, and an 1859 Settler's License awarded to Barton for land in Montcalm County, Michigan. There are numerous letters written to Barton during the war from home by his sister and father, with several covers. One letter has been written on the back of a colored "Military Map of Maryland & Virginia".

    While stationed at Fort Walker in Hilton Head, the 8th Michigan joined with Sherman's forces. On November 20, 1861, Barton wrote to his father about the fort's fortifications, in part: "...We are in Sherman's Second Brigade the first Brigade is going to move off. We here [sic] that the enemy are going to whip us they will have a nice time if they do for we are fortifying and building a fort that they won't take right away we was on the water twenty days we had a hard storm the ocean was covered with mountains of water it was piled up like large mountains we had seventeen hundred on board. This describes the ocean in a storm [beneath Barton draws a picture of waves]." [Two pages front and back, 5" x 8"].

    In one of his letters, Barton writes about the Battle of Port Royal Ferry where the 8th Michigan lost 8 in killed and wounded on New Year's Day, 1862. Barton describes the cowardice of his superior officer during the mission. In a letter to his father on January 26, 1861, he writes: "...Mr. [Richard N.] Doyle is the Captain. [Captain Alford B.] Turner resigned and went home. Doyle looks to the wants of the men. Turner is a coward when they was bombarding Fort Walker he was so frightened him so he shit his britches that is so and no fooling about it. It was to good to keep he thought we was going right in to a fight but only found lots of warm dead bodies in the fort..." In the same letter he writes to his sister Mary Jane: "We had a ball new years and the enemy threw them pretty saucy to I can tell you they fired right at us but I guess they did not take good aim or they could kill us all for they was in a patch of woods so that we could not see them only as they fired then we would fix them. Some of our company killed one of their officers on horseback thare was five ball holes through him they killed one of our men and wounded eight. The gun boats threw shells in to them. One shell killed ten or twelve men they could see them with thare spy glasses. legs and arms and heads flew in every direction when the shells busted." [Three pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75"].

    And on February 24, 1862, he writes "...We have fine weather now the darkies are getting ready to plant we are in camp that is all but our Company we are on Lady's Island standing pickitt guard. The rebels was on the Island day before yesterday they wanted to get some of our pickets but they was not smart enough...Our camp is in a nice little village called Beaufort...Edgar is well we are on picket guard we have good times and plenty to eat and to do and we don't get discouraged for we will get home this fall. I think you must kiss Eva three times a day for me and once for Edgar he don't like her as well as I do..."

    Less than two months later, Barton would be killed during a reconnaissance mission on one of the islands at the mouth of the Savannah River, four days after the Battle of Fort Pulaski. In addition to the letters from Barton and his family, there are two portraits of James Barton. The first is a carte de visite in which he is dressed in his Federal Army uniform. The second is a trimmed tintype that has been matted to the size of a carte de visite, in which he is wearing civilian clothes. Neither image has a date or back stamp. Both are signed by Barton in pencil.

    Condition: The CDV and tintype are lightly worn; there are scratches on the tintype and some soiling and foxing on the CDV. The letters all have flattened folds, with some separations in places where the paper has worn. Varying degrees of toning, soiling, foxing, and dampstaining. All legible. The other letters and covers have usual wear and folds, with some areas of soiling and chipping. Overall good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
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