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    Civil War Archive of John K. Simon, 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment. An extensive archive of 38 letters, including 36 from Simon to his wife, dating from September 22, 1861 to May 31, 1864 Also included is one letter to friends, dated October 14, 1862, and one letter from Simon's wife, Phebe, to him, dated August 29, 1862. Also 20 postal covers.

    Simon's letters, from various places and of varying lengths, discuss where his regiment is camped, camp life, the weather, military news, and battle descriptions. In his earliest letter in the archive, written from Alexandria, Virginia, Simon committed the mistake that many Union soldiers made early in the war, and that was the war would be short lived. "I think this war won't last long, we have about 250 Thousand troops around about here. I think the rebels won't hold out much longer. The Captain went this afternoon to see the New Jersey Troops and he saw some of the rebels at work on there [sic] Batteries with a spy glass and they were Barefooted and were not in uniform. Some had old hats on so I think they will give it up soon." On January 12, 1862, Simon wrote home from camp on the Potomac River and mentioned that the rebels had been firing shells at his unit but missed. "The rebels is firing at us to day. They throwed a shell at us while we were looking at them. The shot went right over our heads and bursted about 200 yards beyond were [sic] we were standing. And the next time they shot they shot about ¼ of a mile from us. I have in my possession a piece of the bomb shot they sent at us."

    From April 5 to May 4, 1862, Union forces laid siege on Yorktown, Virginia. In an April 13 letter (misdated 1861), Simon reports on the siege, claiming that "I suppose there is over 100 thousand troops between us and Yorktown and when they take Yorktown I suppose that we will march on and take charge of the city....General McClellan is out here and he is ahead of us about six miles and he is about 3 miles from Yorktown and I suppose the next news that you get in the papers will be the fall of Yorktown as we here [sic] that General McClellan has given them but a few days for to surrender that place and if they don't give it up he will burn the city." On May 3, Confederate forces evacuated the city. On June 25, the Battle of Oak Grove, the first of the Seven Days Battles of the Peninsula Campaign, took place. The next day, June 26, Simon wrote home that "the Division which we belong to advanced about one mile further toward Richmond and they had quite a skirmish and there was quite a number wounded and a few killed.... General McClellan rode past here yesterday and he was cheered all along the line as he rode along on horseback." On August 7, Simon wrote of another encounter with Confederate troops at Malvern Hill. "We had been out on a reconnaissance to Malvern Hill...on Monday night and marched back to Malvern Hill and lay till morning and then had a slight brush with the enemy and then they run away and we staid [sic] there all day Tuesday and Wednesday and left there about 2 oclock on Thursday morning...we took about 100 prisoners and killed and wounded about 30 men and they killed about 5 of our men and wounded perhaps about 12 men." Simon's regiment fought in the Second Battle of Bull Run on August 29-30, 1862, and in a September 1 letter home, Simon wrote that "it was the hardest fought Battle that I ever was into. It was an awful sight. The fight on Friday was not so hard as the one on saturday...we met the enemy close to manassas and there. Hooker's Division put them to flight, and on Friday we met them again at Bull Run and there we engaged them again and on Saturday they met us with a very large force and they did fight awful."

    From April 30-May 6, 1862, Simon's regiment participated in the Battle of Chancellorsville, a crushing Union defeat. On May 8, Simon described the engagement in a letter to his wife, claiming that "we were whipping them where we were placed, but it seems that they brought all there [sic] forces from a long distance to fight us.... The rebels in front of us were killed off to a great extent. I saw more of there [sic] men killed in this engagement than in any that I ever was in before...it was the hardest Battle that I ever was engaged in." In the Battle of Gettysburg, on July 1-3, Simon's regiment brought more than 200 men to the field. On a July 6 letter, Simon wrote that "we were engaged in the hardest fought battle that I ever was in and we have whipped the rebels and now they making for Virginia as fast as they can go, and our troops are after them.... We lost in our Regiment 2 officers a Killed and 4 Wounded, and about 70 men killed and Wounded."

    From early to mid-May 1864, Simon's regiment participated in the Battle of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Court House. In a May 11 letter, written in the middle of the latter battle, Simon wrote that "we are now laying or resting a little and they are fighting in the front of us. This is the 6th days and we have been engaged with the enemy three days and have lost about 70 men so far. It has been a very heavy and it is not ended yet but we hope to whip them." On May 19, Simon wrote his wife that "We are now resting to day and the men are cleaning up there [sic] arms and clothing. We have been under the enemies fire for the last Fourteen days and some part of the time at night and we have lost a great many men during that time.... We have lost during this Campaign so far out of our regiment about 90 men in killed wounded and missing so far."

    John K. Simon, of Newark, New Jersey, enlisted in the 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment on August 19, 1861, and mustered in as a sergeant in Company D on August 22. He was promoted to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant on May 26, 1862 and later promoted to 1st Lieutenant on May 19, 1863. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in May 1864. Simon mustered out of the service on September 7, 1864.

    The 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment was organized at Camp Olden, Trenton, New Jersey, in July 1861, and was mustered in on August 22, 1861. It participated in a number of important engagements, including the Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, Malvern Hill, Second Battle of Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and the Siege of Petersburg.

    Condition: Letters have the usual folds with occasional, light stain; otherwise good.


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    May, 2021
    19th Wednesday
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