Description

    Union Officer's Letter by William J. Ross of the 29th Connecticut (Colored) Volunteers Describing the Repulsion of the Rebels at Fort Harrison. Five war-dated letters by William J. Ross, two are written during his service in the 18th Connecticut Infantry, and three as captain in the 29th Connecticut (Colored) Volunteers. The five letters total a number of 14 pages, all but one measuring approximately 5" x 8".

    Most notable is a letter (four pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8") written from "Chapin's Bluff Near Richmond, Va." and dated Oct. 2, 1864; describing the regiments engagements in Virginia, including their part in capturing Fort Harrison. In part: " ...we were in the rear of our works at Petersburg getting ready for our expedition...last Wednesday we started from Petersburg taking the direction of the Appomattox and crossed at Broadway Landing late in the night continuing our march across the peninsula...crossed the James at James Neck at Deck Bottom where we lay until daylight. We moved towards Richmond on the New Market road driving the enemy before us like so many sheep. Our line advanced with very little opposition taking their second line of works when darkness brought us to a halt. During the night the enemy were reinforced...next day the[y] charged on our, or rather their works, but it was no use. The[y] were repulsed handsomely three times. The place they charged was at Chapin's Bluff held by the 18th Corps...our division was net to their support. We arrived in time to give them one or two volleys before their repulse. One whole regiment was captured. It was a North Carolina one. They acknowledged that the movement was a complete surprise...we captured 23 guns and quite a number of prisoners. I have lost one man, but the number of casualties in our Regt. is very slight...we had two officers wounded, one severely...we hold the lines we have captured and intend to do so until we advance...I am perfectly satisfied with any place if we can only call it our own...We have grand good news from every part of the army and our men are in excellent spirits and...the enemy are exactly the reverse...success has a splendid effect on troops. You can almost breath it in the air..."

    He adds a postscript regarding one of the contrabands and sends his (the contraband's) autograph: "Tell Shoddy that my boy says he will wait and come home with me if the 'Jonnies' let him live. He says he wants Shoddy to write him and he will answer it and tell him all about the shells etc. Bill. This is his autograph and he seen more hardships than the majority of mankind...JONES PARIS (Jones Paris is his name)."

    In another letter written on March 8, 1865 (2 pages, 8" x 10"), Ross describes General Edward Wild's review of the division and Lincoln's inauguration: "Before Richmond, Va., March 8th, 1865... today it rained very hard...our division was reviewed by Gen'l. Wild. We must have made a dashing appearance passing the reviewing officer with the rain pouring down in torrents and the mud ankle deep. I don't know how the division column marched, that I commanded, or whether the bearing of my men was soldierly or otherwise and I don't care a snap...if there is anything I hate it is a review or inspection on a rainy day. Of course I had on my best clothes and they were completely soaked and covered with mud... we returned to camp about noon completely disgusted with everything in general...I've been reading nearly all afternoon of the inauguration of the President...the procession through Pennsylvania Avenue were much in the same predicament as our division review. Sheridan...has been at work again and this time has finished "Early" by taking him prisoner with nearly all his force and is now threatening Richmond by the way of Lynchburg. The enemy have nothing to say of Sheridan's movement. I received...the (Richmond) Examiner and there wasn't a word of any movement in the Valley...I remain your affectionate brother..."

    Condition: All letters have toning. The October 2, 1864 letter has light soiling along the external folds on page 4, with stray foxing. A May 20, 1864 letter has light dampstaining and bits of paper loss occurring at a fold of the blank integral page. A December 25, 1862 letter has chipping at edges, and bits of paper loss at folds affecting two words of text. The March 8, 1865 letter has a ragged margin at left, where integral page was likely removed; light soiling at folds and a few stains. Overall, the letters are highly legible.


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    Auction Dates
    October, 2016
    19th Wednesday
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