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    Description

    Union Surgeon-In-Chief William Henry Thayer Bound Civil War Correspondence Archive. Over 100 letters and various handwritten pages pasted into scrapbook album, 8.25" x 11.5", 1864-1865, ink, most written to his wife, Ellen. This fascinating archive of letters covers the period in Dr. Thayer's career between his time as New Hampshire Medical Inspector and his promotion to Surgeon-in-Chief. Dr. Thayer began his military career as a medical officer in the 14th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. He was appointed Medical Inspector in November, 1863, and served in that capacity until January, 1864. He earned the promotion to Surgeon-in-Chief in February, 1865.

    The letters here date from January 3, 1864 to March 10, 1865, written from various locations between Washington D.C. and Savannah, and range in length from one to 15 pages. They are pasted down to the pages of the scrapbook in chronological order, revealing an intensely personal narrative of a soldier on the move. The correspondence begins in Concord, where Dr. Thayer writes to his wife after being "...so fully occupied with my duties that I could not get through with my reports, & instructions for the medical officers..." The correspondence continues, and most interesting is Dr. Thayer's account of meeting President and Mrs. Lincoln on a Saturday trip to the White House. Upon seeing the exhausted President, Thayer writes that "...Mr. L was near the door, looking so haggard..." Later, Dr. Thayer relates his experience after gaining a private audience with the President, and in this letter reiterates that Lincoln looked "very thin and hollow-eyed." Overall, this collection of letters offers a rare glimpse into life on the milder side of the Civil War, where the officers lived and ate well, wrote letters, drilled occasionally, and longed for news from home while they waited for orders to keep moving. A great number of these letters enumerate everyday life as a Union soldier. As such, this collection is a prime example of "history from below", where seemingly mundane daily rituals reveal a true sense of history at its most basic level. The covers and first and last few pages of the scrapbook have separated, but this has not affected any of the letters. The letters exhibit normal age toning and flattened mailing folds, else fine.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2007
    24th-25th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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