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    Union Soldier's Archive of Letters by George W. Fernald of Co. "C", New York 82nd Infantry. Twenty-three letters (the letters average three pages each and total more than 70 pages) all but one written during Fernald's three years of service and addressed to his cousin George H. Fernald of New York City. Fernald mustered into Co. "C" on May 21, 1861, and saw a lot of action; most notably suffering a chest wound in the Battle of Gettysburg. Many of his letters include content about troop movements, commentary on potential intervention of Britain; but the most noteworthy letters recount Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. The 82nd lost more than half of their troops at Gettysburg. Fernald suffered a chest wound, survived and returned to fight, finally mustering out on May 27, 1864.

    Writing a week after the Battle of Chancellorsville ("Camp near the Lacy House, [Stafford Heights, Va.], May 9, 1863"), in part: "I write you these few lines to let you know that I have escaped through the Battle unhurt...I can't give you any details of the battle yet except that it was a bloody one & the loss on both sides was heavy, but that of the enemy's greater than ours by three to one..." The original stamped transmittal cover is included.

    He provides greater detail about the battle a few weeks later: "Camp near the Lacy House, [Stafford Heights], Va., May 27, 1863... I dropped you a few lines just after the battle to let you know that I came out...safely...it was a hard & bloody battle & nothing gained by it although Joe Hooker says he gained his object, but I don't see what that object was only to sacrifice 15 thousand lives without gaining anything to settle the war, but it is nothing more than I expected...I don't think Hooker is capable of handling this army. He does well enough have charge of a Corps, but nothing more...I don't think we have a Genl. in the army that is capable of taking charge of this army except Genl. G. B. McClellan. Our division was not on the right with Hooker. We were stationed along the Rappahannock River to keep communication open with Sedgwick & Hooker until Sedgwick got up to Fredericksburg then we opened the river & helped Sedgwick to carry the Heights which was hot work, but we carried the Heights & captured several pieces of artillery & quite a number of prisoners, but after we captured the Heights & got Sedgwick through to join Hooker we had orders to give up the Heights & City & recross the river which eddied not like very well but we had to obey orders. If we broke orders we could have held the heights against any force Lee could have brought...I don't think Hooker knowed what he was about after he crossed he river...he might have crushed the Rebel army as it was if he had...his wits about him...we have pretty good news...from Mississippi river that Vicksburg has been captured...Genl. Stonewall Jackson was killed in the late fight across the river which make the rebels feel very bad. Our regiments time of enlistment expired on the 21st...but we have not been mustered out...nor no signs of being...I don't think we will be...until the war is over. We have written several letters to the War department about it but can get no satisfaction..." The original stamped transmittal cover is included.

    Fernald's next letter dates after Gettysburg. Writing from Baltimore on July 13, 1863, in part: "I write you these few lines to let you know that I was not killed in the last battle (Gettysburg), but was wounded. I was shot in the right breast & the ball came out of my back...the doctor says with careful nursing I will come out all right...I am at my Aunt Fans. Uncle Tom Pitt came & got me out of the hospital... You must excuse me for [not] writing to you before...I have not been able & it is very painful for me to write now but feared if I delayed longer you would think I was killed..."

    Fernald continues to write during his convalescence, often mentioning his wound, and the efforts of the citizens of Baltimore to help the wounded. He asks about the riots in New York, and expresses concern that the pattern of violence is not followed in other cities.

    Although Fernald expresses no opinions about slavery, or politics in general, two of his letters make clear his belief that blacks have no place in the army. In a letter dated September 17, 1863 he writes: "...my wound has been quite sore for the last few days, but I think it is on account of the weather... I am sorry to hear that W. H. Gibson & Chas. Sammis was drafted but such are the fortunes of war. When it comes to a draft it takes both great & small, but I suppose they will pay their $300...the Army of the Potomac is in motion again and I hope the government will send Meade some of those troops that are around New York...I don't think Meade has a very large army at present, but if he is reinforced in time to whip Lee...it will end the war for our other armies are closing in on the enemy at all other points and if Lee is defeated...it will end the war...there is a Niger Regt. [4th United States Colored Troops] going to parade hear today. Do you have any of them in New York[?] I hope not for I am opposed to Niger Soldiers..."

    His sentiments continue in an October 2, 1863 letter: "...I think that Wm. H. Gibson had better take that substitute at $300 for I don't think he will get one for any less...they are getting scarce now at any price...I suppose those Russian officers create quite an excitement in the City. Are you raising any Nigro Regiments in the City. There was a [Black] Regt [4th United States Colored Troops] went from here the fore part of this week. It was 1200 strong. They are raising another one hear now [7th United States Colored Troops] and my Uncle George wants me to accept a mayorship in it as he can get it for me, but I would rather remain where I am for I think it much more honorable to be a private in a white Regt. than an officer in a black one..."

    Fernald is finally recuperated in November 1863, and receives position in the Pay department after refusing a transfer to an Invalid regiment. He continues in the service until he musters out on May 27, 1864. The last letter in this grouping is dated August 3, 1864, and is the only letter written while not in service to the Army.

    Condition: Overall condition is very good; with the usual mail folds, but no weaknesses or wear. Light toning, but very clean. A handful are written in pencil, and most all are accompanied by the transmittal envelope.


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