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    Description

    Civil War Letters and Diary of Robert H. Crist of Indiana. Ten letters and one diary relating to his service in Company F of the 21st Indiana Volunteers and as a lieutenant in Company L of the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery. The collection also includes Crist's pewter name stamp with an eagle design surrounding "R.H. Crist,"; a signed carte de visite of Crist in an officer's uniform taken in 1865 (with an impression of his personal stamp on reverse); a carte de visite of his wife Frances Bates Crist; a blank top of a receipt from "R.H. Crist, Contractor and Builder; a piece of red glass reportedly from the Fort Morgan light in Louisiana; and a large fish scale inscribed "Taken from Tarpon or Silver King. 1864."

    The letters, dating from 1861 to 1864, were written from Camp Dix, Camp Murray, and Camp Marshall in Baltimore; Ship Island in the Gulf of Mexico; and Baton Rouge and New Orleans in Louisiana. Crist wrote to various recipients, primarily to his father and sisters, of the demoralizing hardships and camp life, the weather, the excessive drinking of his fellow soldiers, and his views of various officers. He seldom expressed his views on the political issues of the time, though he did make one reference to slavery. In a letter to his father, dated January 9, 1862, he wrote that "the South must be whipped and if Slavery suffers let it Suffer-it cannot be shielded without shielding the South, and I am not willing to do that." Before he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, Crist had grown tired of life as a soldier, complaining in a September 22, 1863 letter to his 'Father & friends" that he had "learned too much of it & its corruptions."

    The printed 1858 diary contains pre-war notes and military entries from July 1861 through January 1866 that note daily life in camp, the weather, complaints about food and officers, reports of his health, muster rolls for officers and soldiers of Company F of the 21st Indiana Volunteers, and several songs that were popular with soldiers. Crist makes detailed entries describing the August 1862 Battle Baton Rouge.

    Of particular note are the entries in Crist's diary from August fourth and sixth, 1862, concerning the Battle of Baton Rouge. In his entry for the fourth, Crist details the death of General Thomas Williams and other casualties, in part: "The General Williams fell while cheering on the 2nd Regt with 4 or 5 Shots through Him...the Major was wounded in the foot, the Lt. Col. was wounded in the right arm. Lt. Seely was shot dead." He then writes on August 6 about how the Union's losses were not in vain, as "The Enemy is falling back as it proved they were badly whipped. Their loss is heavy, their dead are numerous. Several of their officers are killed, wounded and taken prisoner."

    Robert H. Crist (1829-1912) was the oldest of seven children born to Peter Millspaugh Crist and Lily Hunter Crist. He served in Company F of the 21st Indiana Volunteers from 1861 to October 1864 when he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in Company L of the 1st Indiana Heavy Artillery. He moved up to the rank of 1st Lieutenant in September 1864 and then promoted to the rank of Captain in March of 1865. He married Frances Bates in 1867 and lived in Wilmington, Illinois, during their married life. After the Civil War, Crist worked as a builder and contractor.

    Condition: The letters are various sizes, primarily 4. 75" x 7" or 7.50" x 9.50" 4-page bifoliums. In addition to the ten letters offered, there are three early enlistment letters that have had the caches removed that are present for continuity. Overall condition of the letters is very good. Although the leather cover of the 3.25" x 5.50" diary is worn, the interior pages remain clean and very legible.


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    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
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