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    [Battles of Lynchburg and Cedar Creek]. Ezekiel G. Davis, 34th Massachusetts Infantry, Archive of Letters. A group of approximately 27 letters by Ezekiel Davis, dating from October 19, 1862 to May 23, 1865, written to his father. Davis enlisted at the age of 18 as a private and was mustered into Company I of the 34th Massachusetts Infantry on July 13, 1862. The regiment spent the next year supporting the defense of Washington, D.C. In 1864, the 34th MA took part in General Sheridan's Valley Campaign and fought in battles such as Winchester, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, and Lynchburg. Davis survived the war and was mustered out at Richmond on June 16, 1865. In these letters, Davis writes to his father with detailed descriptions of the Battles of Lynchburg and Cedar Creek, where the 34th MA lost 47 and 58 in killed and wounded respectively.

    Prior to these key battles, Davis describes a gruesome railroad accident that occurred en route to Harper's Ferry. The letter dated July 12, 1863, reads in part: "We had orders in the afternoon to be at the depot at 11 o'clock at night for transportation to Harpers Ferry...one of Co. F. boys was sitting in the door of the cars with his legs out, there was a pile of rocks and a ledge close to the road. He was no minding it, caught his feet and pulled him out of the car and threw him against the stones and down on the track and he was litteraly cut in pieces. His body was cut into near his heart both legs and one arm was cut off about half of our train passed over him and all but 3 cars of the train behind. Before they could stop I did not see him, some of the boys of his Co. steyed behind and buried him. I was sitting just as he was but had my eye ahead and took care of my feet...the 39th come near running over a nigger and at the same time some of the cars of the 39th train got unhiched and when the rest of the train was running back to hitch on ran off the track..."

    The 34th MA had a hard fight at the Battle of Lynchburg, and their hardships continued, as there was little food for the soldiers to eat. On July 3, 1864, Davis wrote about the death of a friend, who was killed at the Battle of Lynchburg: "I presume you will have a list of our killed before this reaches you and heard of Baxter's death [Harry Baxter King, Co. E, from Davis' hometown]. He was killed instantly in the fight at Lynchburg. We have had a hard time of it scince I wrote you last have done an [illegible] sight of marching, fighting and at last nearly starving to death. I can't give any much idea on paper what we went through..."

    Davis provided greater details of battle following the fight at Cedar Creek. His October 24, 1864 letter describes watching the battle unfold, "We have had some pretty hard fighting about here but we have been victorous in every great battle as yet...in the last fight on the 19th they attacked us just before daylight and drove our whole line from thier entreachments and for a while I thought everything was lost but they were soon checked and as soon as Gen Sheridan who was at Winchester reached the field things took a turn the other way. At 3 o'clock in the afternoon our whole line got the order to advance there was some hard fighting then I can tell you I happened to be on a little hill where I could see most of the battle at once it was a grand but awfull sight but the enemy soon began to fall back and finally broke and run and then the cavalry was after them taking most of thier artillery a great many prisoners and wagons. I have been at work pretty much all of the time night and day taking care of the wounded...The regt has had a tough time of it nearly all of the officers killed or wounded and only 170 men left in the regt out of about 800 we started with last spring..."

    Other letters by Davis read in chronological order are as follows: In a letter dated May 5, 1863, Davis writes about prisoners being sent to Washington, it reads: "We are camped near Fort Ramsey on Uptons Hill about a mile north of Munsons Hill, the Rebs held these Hills at first...about 9 o'clock I was detailed for guard but finally had to go on picket to Baileys Crossroads 2 miles from here, about 40 prisoners went by there towards Washington. They were dressed in citizens clothes..." The following month, Davis had been stationed at the prison to guard prisoners and details the events of paroling and exchanging prisoners. In his June 28, 1863 letter, he writes: "I have been on guard at the Old Capitol Prison...there has been between 300 & 500 Rebs there all the time...about 500 to be exchanged. Some of them had been here some time and were pleased enough to get off. 94 of them came in the night before they left, these were paroled..."

    Davis also wrote home to his father about the newly enforced draft and the rioting that occurred as a result. His letter dated August 1, 1863 reads in part: "riot and resistence of the draft as they had in the N.Y. does us as much hurt as though one of our armies had been defeated and I do hope that that will be the last ever blow struck in resistence of the draft...as we have got to do just so much more fighting and stay out here just so much longer. I hope they will all be served as they were in Boston and I hate this getting off for the $300 exemption. Somebody will have to come and it will take so much longer to get the men along if a man can get a substitute..."

    As the war was drawing to a close, Davis wrote to his father about an amusing exchange of information with Rebels. His letter from February 11, 1865 relates in part: "our Div are on the front line and some time have considerable talk with the rebs they wanted to know of our fellows when they were going home said they were going in 10 days for there was going to be peace..." The following month, Davis was optimistic for the end of the war. He wrote to his father, just after the sad passing of his mother, on March 7, 1865, saying: "Dear Father, I received Lillies letter informing me of Mother's death. By your last letters I was somewhat prepared for it though I did not expect to hear it so soon...Sherman is making a pretty clean sweep where he goes if he reaches Virginia and joins Grant it will soon end the strugle but if he is defeated it will put another year to the war. Well I hope he will be successful for I hope to see the end of it soon. Deserters are coming all the time all along the line 2 or 3 at a time..."

    A fine archive with detailed descriptions of battles as well as every day soldiering life. The group also includes approximately 30 letters to Davis from his friends and family, Davis' Certificate of Service in the war, a period Bible, and a cabinet photo of Davis as an older man.

    Condition: Letters with usual mail folds, and varying degrees of toning, soiling and foxing. Overall, collection is in very good condition with nicely legible letters by Davis. The period bible has separated at the spine, but binding appears to be fairly sound. The cabinet photograph is lightly toned, else good.


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    14th Tuesday
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