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    [Civil War] Union Private Thomas Corwin Potter, Battery B, 1st Ohio Light Artillery. Archive of nine letters written by Potter, dated from November 20, 1862 through August 29, 1863. Expressive and articulate, the young private had a flair for penning a vivid portrait of his military experience.

    Enlisting at twenty years of age on September 5, 1861, Private Potter served with the 1st Ohio Light Artillery until his unfortunate death on September 20, 1863. It was the final day of the battle of Chickamauga, when his mortal wounds were caused by his hot gun prematurely discharging, taking off both arms. He was walked back to camp, where he passed at 3:00 a.m. A letter by Potter's bunkmate, dated November 11, 1863, describes his death in great detail. It reads in part: "He was wounded on the 20th by a premature discharge by his own gun, the same as his Father was, only worse. I think no one was to blame as the man that was serving vent had his thumb stall blown all to pieces. We had been firing very fast for some time and the gun was very hot and his sponge was worn out and he had told us that he would not use it any longer. He had rammed home about 150 pounds before he was hurt. He had one hand blown entirely off, his right arm torn all in pieces so that had he lived he would have neither hand. He was able to walk and we sent a man back with him, but it was just in the hottest of the battle and he could get no Doc. nor an ambulance, but got him into a wagon and brought him to Chattanooga when he died next morning at 3:00 A.M., then the man we sent with him made him a rough box and had him buried. Then he cut his name on a board and set it at his head. He was rational along at first, but said nothing as though he thought he should die, & I think if he had have had his wounds dressed immediately, he might have lived, although he was hurt inwardly I think, but he had the strongest constitution of any man I ever saw."

    All of Potter's letters are addressed to his beloved sister, Ruby Clay, with much written either expressing gratitude for familial correspondence: [December 13, 1862]..."Your very kind letter of Nov. 29th came to hand yesterday and believe me I was very happy to hear from you. Yours are the only letters that I get that suit my taste...oh, I love to get a good long letter"; yearning for more: [August 29, 1863]..."I have waited with all imaginable Patience for a Letter from Some One, but all in vain for two Long weeks. I have not received a Single excuse for a Letter."; or describing events of the war.

    One such account was given in a letter from January 13, 1863, eleven days after the Battle of Stones River, describing the consequences for an act of cowardice during said conflict. He writes, in part: "It was a shame and a disgrace to the federal cause on the 2nd of Jan. during the heavy engagement on our left, General Rosecrance [sic] rode up to the front, where just in front of our battery he met two privates who were sneaking back - he halted them, asked them what Reg. they belonged to they said the 19th U.S. Infantry. 'are you wounded' he asked the reply was 'no' 'are you out of ammunition' 'no' 'where are you going' 'to the rear to get some water' 'go back to your Co., and fight like men.' sternly said the old gen, drawing one of his...'go back, I say I am going' they attempted to pass him when he shot the foremost one through the head scattering his brains in the face of his comerad [sic]...if cowards will not have any respect for themselves or their Country they merit such a death..."

    All letters come with transcriptions, and most have original transmittal envelope. Housed in plastic sleeves in a white binder, with tintype of an unknown man, possibly Potter.

    Condition: Smooth folds, some soiling, mainly at the folds. Expected toning, with ink fading in a few places.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2015
    4th-5th Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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