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    Civil War Archive of Letters of Charles A. Wood, 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. An extensive archive consisting of 85 letters, including 82 letters from Wood to Maria Dean (later Maria Wood), Willimantic, Connecticut, dating from August 24, 1861 to January 27, 1864. The letters are various sizes and sent from various locations, along with 69 canceled postal covers, all but three with stamps.

    Wood joined the 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry in New Haven, and in one of his first letters written September 3, 1861 to Maria Dean from camp he writes, "I have to drill the men from 8 oclock to 10 A.M. 3 to 5 P.M. as we have not got hardly stratened [sic] out yet. It keeps me busey at present." Wood's letters are composed of news of camp life, the weather, his health, missing home, military news, and ardent expressions of love for Maria, whom he would marry sometime in the spring of 1863. The 7th Connecticut left New Haven for Washington, D.C. and then to Annapolis, where it joined General Thomas W. Sherman's Expeditionary Corps to Port Royal, South Carolina in October 1861. Writing on October 22 from a steamship heading toward Fortress Monroe, Wood was already complaining about army food. "Maria you do not know how much we Suffer. All I had to eat from Saturday at the time we started from Camp until Sunday night was 4 or 5 hard crackers and a small piece of Salt Meat. The meat I throughed [sic] away, it was not good enough for u hogs /u to eat....It is a disgrace to the Country to keep the soldiers so badly." Maria received a letter from Hilton Head, South Carolina, dated December 3, informing her that Wood was very ill for several weeks but was recovering. He had contracted typhoid fever. He did not return to active duty until mid-February 1862.

    Writing from Tybee Island, South Carolina, on March 9, 1862, Wood reported to Maria that the troops just heard news of General Grant's victories in the West at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, which fortified Wood's hopes that the war was drawing to a close. "The news was received here with great joy. The troops seemed to be almost wild for a time, throwing up there [sic] hats and hollering and making all manner of speeches." On April 10-11, the 7th Connecticut Infantry was involved in the bombardment and capture of Fort Pulaski. Wood lived in the Fort for a while after it was captured, but was relieved to be moved to a house nearby due to the bad water in the Fort. In a May 15 letter he writes, "I like living in Fort Pulaski very well indeed all but one thing. That is we have very bad Water. This is a low & swampy Island. You cannot dig a Well and have good Water. It will be Salt so all the Water we get to drink & cook with is either Rain Water or some that we get from the Savannah River...it is vile & miserable Water to drink." Union forces attempted to capture Charleston, South Carolina, at the Battle of Secessionville on June 16, 1862 and subsequently abandoned James Island.

    Wood was stationed on Edisto Island, South Carolina when he wrote a July 15 letter to Maria, citing a report of General McClellan's troubles outside of Richmond and his despondency concerning the military situation. "We have...received to day news that McClellan has had another big fight before Richmond and that his loss is very heavy....Oh, why is it we cannot whip the Traitors out at Richmond. Have we not force enough to do it. I think we have Troops enough...if our Commanding Generals will only bring them to...the right place & at the right time. Richmond in my opinion is to be the final Battle ground and I think it would be policy to concentrate our whole force as all those can possible be spared from different parts of the country before Richmond and then make one final & decisive strike at the unhuman Rebels and crush this wicked Rebellion." Wood's regiment moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where it remained for the duration of the summer and fall of 1862. On September 27, Wood wrote to Maria of the news he heard of the Union victory at Antietam and of his confidence in General McClellan. "The War news seems to be more encouraging. The papers state that McClellan has drove the Rebels out of Maryland but that the loss was very large on both sides....I think McClellan will prove to be the man for the times (yes) if the News Papers are only made to let him alone as stop blowing about him. I have always had a good deal of confidence in McClellan, but his plans have looked rather dark sometimes, although I think he has done all things man could do under the circumstances."

    Wood was wounded at the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina, on October 22, 1862 and was hospitalized for a time at Hilton Head. At the beginning of 1863 the 7th Connecticut moved to Fernandina, Florida. Sometime during the spring or summer of 1863, Wood received a promotion as 1st Lieutenant and obtained a furlough, during which time (May) he married Maria Dean and had an operation, presumably related to his wound received at Pocotaligo. He was back in Florida by the end of July. In August Wood's regiment moved to Morris Island, South Carolina. In a letter written to his wife on August 10, 1863, Wood claimed that Confederate troops were "throwing Shell at us all the time and every day some one is Wounded. 5 were carried by our Camp yesterday. To day I have only seen one. Our Regiment has only lost one man thus far, and I think we have been very fortunate. The day is near at hand when our forces will reply to the Rebel fire. Our Batteries are nearly finished, then the Ball will open and the Slaughter commences. Three or four thousand men are on fatigue to night building Batteries and they will soon be done." On August 20, Wood reported to his wife that the Union bombardment of Forts Wagner and Gregg was "progressing favorably" and that he had command "of a 2 Gun Battery, one hundred pound Rifle Guns." On September 6, the evening before Union troops captured Forts Wagner and Gregg, Wood wrote to his wife that "it is now 9 oclock and I have to go up to my Battery at 4 in the morning and I returned to night at 7 oclock. We are busy to night as an other attempt will be made to take Fort Wagner in the morning." The forts were captured on September 7 and operations against Fort Sumter and Charleston continued. In an October 1 letter, Wood writes that "for the past 3 days my Battery has been firing on Sumter again. The Gen thinks the Rebels are trying to repair the Fort, so he has ordered us to fire so many Shots every day to keep them from working."

    On October 16, 1863 the 7th Connecticut moved from Morris Island to St. Helena Island, South Carolina and assigned to the 10th Corps, which Wood did not particularly like. In an October 28 letter to his wife, he complained "I don't like the new Branch of service we are drilling in. We drill in the Boats 4 hours each day 2 hours in the forenoon and 2 hours in the afternoon. We are obliged to get our feet wet every time we drill and I have very hard cold now from the effects of getting my feet wet." From the end of October to mid-November 1863, the 7th Connecticut was assigned to Folly Island, where another assault of Fort Sumter was planned. As Wood stated in a November 7 letter, the planned assault was delayed. "We were to make an Assault on Fort Sumter the first night after our arrival, but very fortunately for our whole Regiment-a deserter came into our lines and reported...that the Rebels kept one Company in Sumter in the day time, and every night sent a force of 500 men over to resist any assault we might make. Such news of course changed the Programe [sic]."

    Wood was killed in action at the Battle of Drewry's Bluff on May 14, 1864.

    The 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was organized at New Haven, Connecticut, on September 13, 1861. In October and November 1863, the regiment's status changed. It was equipped as a "boat infantry" for the specific purpose of leading an amphibious night assault on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Although the 7th trained at Folly Island, South Carolina, the project was ultimately ended because it was deemed impractical. The regiment participated in several engagements, including the Battle of Olustee, the Siege of Fort Pulaski, the Battle of James Island, the capture of Fort Wagner, the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, and the Siege of Petersburg. It mustered out on July 20, 1865, and discharged at New Haven, Connecticut, on August 11, 1865.

    Condition: The letters in the archive have the usual folds; the handwriting on approximately 10-12 letters is faded and hard to read; otherwise condition is good.


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    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
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