DescriptionCivil War Archive of Letters, Postal Covers, Currency, Cartes-de-Visite, and Song Sheet, 1861-1865. The archives consists of twenty-eight letters, twenty-seven of which are addressed to one John Charles Stevens in Philadelphia, covering the period 1861-1865; sixteen canceled postal covers; two Confederate notes of currency; six coins; seven cartes-de-visite; one engraving; and one printed song sheet.
Ten of the letters to Stevens are from William C. Crawford, who served as a private in Company B of the 73rd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, known as the "Pennsylvania Legion." The 73rd Regiment was recruited at Philadelphia in June and July 1861. Crawford was mustered in on July 1, 1861. He was captured at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee on November 23, 1863. It is not known if he survived his captivity. Crawford's letters vary in size, with most running three to four pages, date from November 22, 1861 to May 21, 1863, and cover primarily religious and temperance issues. It appears from the letters that both Stevens and Crawford were members of a temperance organization, probably The Sons of Temperance, which was founded in New York in 1842 and established in Philadelphia a year later. Crawford refers often to Stevens as "brother"; mentions his "brothers and sisters" in Philadelphia; and ends many of his letters by sending his respects to "all inquiring friends." Besides bemoaning the lack of religion among his fellow soldiers and much drinking in camp, Crawford's letters, written from camps in Maryland and Virginia, as well as from a hospital in Washington, D.C., address daily life in camp and, on occasion, military news. Crawford's letters include two on patriotic letterheads with patriotic envelopes among three canceled postal covers. All of the Crawford letters are accompanied by typescript transcriptions.
In a letter, written from Franklintown in western Virginia (now West Virginia), on May 24, 1862, Crawford provides an update (including many misspellings) on his regiment's preparations in response to Stonewall Jackson's Valley Campaign. "We are bilding fortifacations hear to recive Jackson and Johnston[.] we have been along time hunting About the Mountains for them [.] we gave Jackson A Chase hear but we Expect him Again." On June 26, 1862 Crawford wrote from Strausburg (Strasburg), Virginia, and related to Stevens the latest and unsuccessful military activities of General Franz Sigel's Division against Stonewall Jackson in which he was involved.
"We hade one fight at Franklin on May the 22d and repulsing the Enemy to a retreat [.] Another March after Jackson we turned Back on May 25th in Pursut to Weaks caught hold of him again near Strausburg and gave him a whipping repulsed him Again and drove him clean up to Port republic and ther we had it hot and heavy for suverl ours repulsing him[.] Also we turned Back to Strausburg and we have now joined Genlr. Siegl Division...this last March we made it was a hard one for us under a hot Boiling sun Marching at 23 and 24 mils a day and Nothing to eat nor Shues on our feat [.] our loss was very heavy on both sides [.] ther is Some reports that Jackson is reinforced and that he is laying back for us [.] Well I supos when we get a good rest we will give him Another Chase round the Mountuns and vallys [.] Jackson is very smart But he will niver Stand and fight lick a Man but kill his Men in running when we chased him to Port republic [.] his men had to throw Away ther Blankets guns etc and be taken Prisnors [.] we hade 5 hundred and 50 of them and we loste one of our Members after the Battle taken Prisnors [.] it is lauphible indead to Sea us or Both Armyes how they Chase Each Other round the Mountains it is lick Childs Play to us [.]"
In a September 18, 1862 letter, Crawford wrote that he had been involved in both the Battle of Slaughter (Cedar) Mountain and the Battle of Second Bull Run.
"we ware six days fighting Along the raphannick [.] very heavy Again at sulpher Springs and then down to Manassas Plains it was the heavest fight that we have been in [.] the Shot and Shell ware falling Around and About us very thick & fast & still we heald our Ground and trusted in the Lord [.] the battle lasted for ten days [.] it was an Offel Seein to luke on to hear the grons and Crys of the wounded [.] our regment was badly cut up and we are now left to Morn the loss of our Cornel who was killed Whill discharging his duty in the Cause of his Country."
The last letter from Crawford in this collection, dated May 21, 1863, was written from Finley Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he was recuperating from a wound suffered at the Battle of Chancellorsville.
"tired and Mutch wornout we arrived [at Chancellorsville] on the 29 [April] and hade A curmish the next day driving them back [.] Also on the first of May we heald them until Saturdy Evening the 2d of May when the battel becam general at 5 oclock then we hade it hot and hevy the rabes came division by division half drunk huting and yelling lick Mad Men [.] I niver Saw the lick of it befor [.] the hades and legs Arms and in fact the bodys flying in the are I rely thaught heaven and Earth ware ware to geather [.] we hade three Charges of grape and canister firing at them but we ware Compaled to fall back [.] I was fighting for over hour and A half when i was wounded in the Arm Above the Albow."
There are fourteen letters of various sizes written to Stevens from Harry P. Chard, who worked for the U.S. Army's Cavalry Bureau, with half of his letters written from the cavalry depot at Giesboro Point, Washington, D.C. As Crawford did in his letters, Chard devoted much of his time discussing religion and temperance, regularly inquiring about the "Temple" and the "Social," and complaining about drunkenness and the lack of religion in camp. It appears that Chard was also a member of the same temperance organization as was Crawford, closing his letters, like Crawford, with respects to "all inquiring friends." Chard's letters, many three pages (of a four-page bifolium) in length, cover the period from December 14, 1863 to September 1, 1864 and include ten canceled postal covers.
Chard's letters offer little military news. In one letter, written from Giesboro Point on March 9, 1864, Chard's complains of body lice in camp and blames the Irish-American soldiers as being the source. "I will be home about the first of April for I can't live where we kill about a handful of greybacks (Body lice) a day. I can tell you we are over run with them. There is about four hundred dirty Irish lying in a large bunk room next to ours and they got crumy and the greybacks crawled through and run us out of our beds so that we can hardly sleep in them."
The remaining four letters in the archive consist of one each from Isaiah Samson, William Henderson, Charley Williams, and Fred F. Martin, with all except Williams' addressed to Stevens. Williams' four-page (bifolium) letter, 5" x 8", dated July 16, 1865 and sent from Fort Monroe, is addressed to a woman friend, with a canceled postal cover. Isaiah Samson's three-page (of a bifolium) letter to Stevens, 5" x 8", dated March 18, 1865 from Charleston, South Carolina, along with a canceled postal cover, discusses his frustration at finding a church in which to worship. Henderson's four page bifolium letter, 4.75" x 8", dated December 26, 1864, from Beaufort, South Carolina, informs Stevens of Union troops making their way from Beaufort to Wilmington "with flying collars and fine musick." This letter is accompanied by a canceled postal cover. Fred Martin of Company B of the 30th Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, wrote a two-page letter (of a bifolium) letter to Stevens, 4.5" x 7.5", dated December 2 (year unknown) from Camp Lookout, Maryland.
In addition to the letters and canceled postal covers, the archive includes the following:
Seven cartes-de-visite including 1) Elmer E. Ellsworth (1837-1861), unmarked and irregularly trimmed, from an engraving 2) Abraham Lincoln from J. E. McClees, Philadelphia, based on photograph, probably by C. D. Fredricks in New York, O-55, irregularly trimmed. 3) Four cartes de visite of soldiers, two are signed; 4) colorized photograph of torn American flag by J. Cremer & Company, Philadelphia, irregularly trimmed.
Confederate currency, including 1) $50 note, 7.25" x 3.25", which appears to have no cancels. The note is in poor condition; it has a vertical tear in the center bearing residue of tape, along with tape and tape residue along sides and bottom. The note is very fragile. 2) A $20 note, 7" x 3", which has not been canceled. The note has three vertical folds, but is in good condition.
Six United States coins, including 1) 1865 three-cent nickel 2) 1864 two cent coin 3) 1861 penny 4) 1862 penny 5) 1863 penny 6) 1864 penny.
One song sheet, 5 5/8" x 8.75", entitled Death of President Lincoln (Philadelphia: James D. Gay, 1985), words by James D. Gay, music to the "Air: Sword of Bunker Hill." Three horizontal folds and one vertical fold, with weakness along the top horizontal fold and the intersection of the top two horizontal and vertical folds. There is a slight tear at the middle of the bottom edge. Otherwise, the song sheet is in good condition.
One engraving of Abraham Lincoln, undated, based on the 1863 Alexander Gardner photograph, oval, 7.75" x 6", glued to a board backing and surrounded by a water-color brown and black frame painted on board. Lincoln's signature in facsimile is on the bottom of the engraving.
An interesting archive containing a variety of items, including letters between members of a temperance organization that discuss the trials and temptations of camp life to soldiers trying to lead a religious and abstemious life.
Condition: The archive is housed in a red three-ring binder. In addition to the condition notes above, the letters in the archive are overall in good condition, showing the usual horizontal and vertical folds. Some have small tears around the edges without affecting text. The one Charley Williams letter has numerous folds but is nonetheless in good condition.
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