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    Union Solder's Letters (2) by Rufus Robbins of Company K, 7th Massachusetts Volunteers, With Two Letters of Condolences to His Family Upon His Death. A sad pair of war-date Union soldier's letters, totaling 6 pages, 4.75" x 6.75". Private Rufus Robbins, who died of disease in Philadelphia on January 7, 1863, writes to his family from the hospital: [Carver Hospital, Washington, D. C., Nov. 17, 1862]... I find myself here very unexpectedly through the kindness of the doctor and some other friends which I had in my Regt...I left camp early Sunday morning...taking cars at Warrington...came through by way of Manassas Junction, Fairfax and Alexandria. Arrived here yesterday...I had a hard time of it...I am not worse than I have been except the fatigue of he journey...direct...to Carver Hospital, Washington, D. C., say nothing of Comp. or Regt...Rufus." His second letter is written after he is transferred: "[West Philadelphia, U. S. General Hospital, Ward N, Dec. 19, 1862]...I left the hospital at Washington on...the 17th...yesterday my diarrhea was pretty bad...I am not any stronger yet but my appetite is a little better today. I have already seen enough of this place...it is a thousand times better than the place I left. Here a man in every stage of sickness can and will have everything that [a] heart can wish. Everything is kept as clean and neat...the doctor will fix my diet tomorrow...the nurse gave me a pint of milk. I drank that and eat nothing but turnip...this is the largest hospital in the city...I have got a better bed in this hospital. A very nice one...direct your letters USA General Hospital, Ward N, West Philadelphia...Rufus..." The original stamped transmittal cover for the Dec. 19th letter is included.

    Unfortunately, Rufus never recovered, and the group offered here includes a letter from Pastor Abel C. Thomas, who writes to Rufus' father just days before his death. In part: "Dear Sir and Brother: Mrs. Thomas and I visited your son this afternoon. He is...in the West Philad. Hospital situated about 4 miles from my residence. He has a good bed in a...well-warmed and well-ventilated building, beautifully supplied with provisions and with nurses who strive to do their best. I know nothing of the skill of the attendant physician, but presume he has the confidence of the authorities in charge. There is...a grand overflowing of the bounty of the ladies of our city, in furnishing all conceivable extras for the sick and wounded heroes of the Republic...there was a very liberal Christmas Dinner furnished to all the men by voluntary contributions...all the wards of the immense hospital, accommodating about 3000, are beautiful decorated with evergreen, woven in many fanciful figures and shapes and interspersed with mottoes of flags...you son. I consider a very sick man. Honesty requires me to say this to you without reservation. He has long been troubled with diarrhea that has become chronic. I do not mean that he is beyond the reach of cure...I have insisted that he shall call for tapioca, sag and other nourishing articles fitted to his case and he has promised me that he will do so. One of the surgeon orderlies (a soldier friend of mine) will have a special eye to Rufus...it is desire[d] that he should come to my house on a pass as soon as he is able...it would do him good...I will make an appeal to Dr. Hayes to have him discharged...Rufus bade me say to you that he has a strong constitution and he is determined to get well..." The original stamped transmittal cover is included.

    Abel Charles Thomas (1807-1880), a Quaker pastor who was a Universalist evangelist, minister, journalist and historian. He mentored aspiring young female writers in Lowell, Mass. during the 1830's and became well known through his many published works which were decidedly religious in nature. During the war looked after the many sick and wounded soldiers of Philadelphia's hospitals. Being a member of the Society of Friends perhaps best explains why he addresses father Robbins as "brother."

    The last letter in the group is a poignant letter detailing the last moments and death of Rufus Robbins, addressed to his mother by Pastor Thomas' wife, Mrs. M. L. Thomas. A seven page heartfelt letter written from Philadelphia on February 16, 1863, in part: "My dear Mrs. Robbins, Before Rufus died I promised him that...I would write to his dear mother and tell her what he wanted said to her. Afterwards his father and brother came and received those parting words from his own lips, but I still felt as if I too would like to communicate with you and tell you something of your dear son's last hours...his faith was dear, strong and unwavering. He told me over and over...he had no fears, he would like to see his mother, but it was the Lord's will. He was quite willing to go. He spoke of death more as a journey...rather than a dreaded change...he told me of a very beautiful Psalm...you had written him about...he could not remember exactly where it was...he was very weak and his memory failed him sometimes...he had read it very often while down on the Peninsula...I told him it was the 91st Psalm and repeated a part of it to him which seemed to give him great satisfaction. He said after reading that I never felt afraid of any dangers...for I knew it was all in God's hand...he hoped to live to get home to see his dear mother. He thought she would feel so bad to have him die among strangers...at last he suddenly grew much worse...Mr. Thomas telegraphed for his father...but we thought it best not to tell him lest something should prevent his father's coming... I could not keep the tears back when I thought how good God is... After some little silence he said 'Mrs. Thomas if I do not live to see any of my folks...would you...write to my mother and tell her not to grieve for me'... his father and brother will tell you...how he was situated and the kind attentions he received...of course it was not home...the nurse who attended him. Mr. Loduis in one of the best I ever saw. I have seem a number of times...and for the sake of...Rufus. I have sent...him many nice things for the men...things that were sent to me for sick and wounded soldiers...I hope you have received Rufus' effects...they were taken away by the agent of that [New England] Associates... I too am a mother. I too have given back the children that were kindly lent me...and with all a woman's sympathy...I must commend you...trust, as Rufus did, and He will give you [?]... yours in sympathy, M. L. Thomas." Following his wife's letter. Pastor Abel C. Thomas adds ten lines of sympathy.
    Also included is a one page epitaph for Rufus, in part: "Rufus!...thou didst well to enroll thyself under the red banner of the cross of Christ...and again enlist under the banner of the Union...relieved from duty in the terrestrial camp the great Captain of our Salvation has detailed thee for higher duty...in the Grand Review, we will meet thee!..."

    Condition: Near fine, toning throughout. With mail folds. Transmittal covers (2) present have been torn open at one side.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    April, 2016
    5th Tuesday
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