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    Civil War Archive of Letters of Charles A. Wood, 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. An extensive and remarkable archive consisting of 123 letters, dating from September 29, 1861 to May 22, 1866, including 87 letters from Wood to Maria Dean (later Maria Wood), Willimantic, Connecticut, dating from September 29, 1861 to May 8, 1864. The letters are various sizes and sent from various locations, along with 119 canceled postal covers, all with stamps. Also included are 3 CDVs, 2 of Wood and one of a young woman, presumably his wife, and assorted documents, including 1) an autograph signed certificate of marriage between Wood and Maria Dean, May 28, 1863, signed by Samuel G. Williams, Pastor of the Congregational Church, Willimantic, Connecticut, dated November 30, 1863. 2) two copies of a partially printed document, signed by Captain John B. Dennis, dated October 13, 1863, stating that Wood was eligible for discharge by reason of promotion. 3) a Special Order, partially printed document, dated April 29, 1863, granting Wood a leave of absence due to his wound received at the Battle of Pocotaligo. 4) four documents, partially printed, relating to back pay and a military pension for Maria Wood. 5) Wood's commission as 1st Sergeant, dated September 17, 1861. 6) Wood's commission as 2nd Lieutenant, dated February 19, 1863. 7) Wood's commission as 1st Lieutenant, dated May 2, 1864.

    Wood's letters commence after he joined the 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment in New Haven on September 5, 1861, and they are composed of news of camp life, the weather, his health, missing home, military news, and ardent expressions of love for Maria Dean, whom he would marry sometime in May of 1863. The 7th Connecticut left New Haven for Washington, D.C. on September 18 and the earliest letter in the archive is from Wood to Maria from the nation's capital on September 29. In this letter Wood details his daily camp routine: "Rool [sic] Caul [sic] at 6 oclock in the Morning, which I have to cont [sic]. Then Drill until 7 oclock. Breakfast at 7 1.4 oclock. Surgeons Caul [sic] at 8 oclock. Then I make out a report of the Sick. Then I put the Guard on at 8 ½ oclock. Drill again from 9 until 11 oclock. So you see I have enough to do in the forenoon. All the time I get to rest is from 11 to 12 oclock. Dinner at 12 oclock. Then rest until 2 oclock P.M.... Drill again from 3 until 5 oclock, then get ready for Dress Parade."

    The 7th Connecticut moved Annapolis, Maryland, where it joined General Thomas W. Sherman's Expeditionary Corps to Port Royal, South Carolina in October 1861. On November 7, Sherman's corps captured Forts Beauregard and Walker. Soon thereafter, Wood contracted typhoid fever, which took him from active duty until mid-February 1862. 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. In a May 7 letter he writes about his duties in the fort's capture and the bravery of the men of the 7th Connecticut, "My Business was to assist Capt. Dennis, when he gave an order to see that it was executed prompley [sic], and if a Man was kiled [sic] or Wounded to detail another in his place. If a Man shrunk or Run from his duty to drive him to it But I am happy to say that not a Man flinched from his Gunn, but seemed determined to die or gain the Victory. You can depend on the 7th C. V. they are not Cowards but Brave Men." In early June, Wood's regiment moved to James Island, South Carolina and prepared for an attempted capture of Charleston. On June 10, Wood wrote that there were "about 10,000 Troops here. We expect to have a general Battle any day. This island is the key to Charleston. If we can drive the Rebels off the Island we can take the City very easly [sic]." 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, for a short time and then moved with his regiment to Hilton Head, South Carolina, where it remained for the duration of the summer and fall of 1862. In an August 12 letter to Maria, Wood unloads invective against Northern men who chose not to fight in the war. "I think...that Man is a coward who will remain silent at such a time as this. This is no time for Men to be at home making speeches and telling what they would do & what we can do. We don't need men with Words but with Guns, and we must have them as this Country goes to ruin.... I wish they would arrest every Soldier that is home then commence and Draft enough to fill up all the Regiments that are in the field. If men have not pride enough to Enlist I say draft them. It is the only way to end this Ware [sic]." In a September 18 letter, Wood expressed anger and resentment at not getting a promotion he was promised: "I have been used very mean, and if I held a Commission now I would rezine [sic] immediately and not serve an other [sic] day in this Regiment. It is a family Regt. and has been from the start. There is no justice shown here. Merrit [sic] is of no account in this Regiment. If you merrit [sic] a Commission you will not get it in any way, but on the other hand if you have got plenty of Money that you don't want an Officers that is your Cousin, and you are willing to humble yourself so much as to get down on your knees and kiss some of the Officers feet ...you can then have a Commission."

    Wood was wounded at the Battle of Pocotaligo, South Carolina, on October 22, 1862 and was hospitalized for a time at Hilton Head. Three days later, on October 25, Wood wrote Maria from a hospital, informing her that "I am Wounded . Don't be frightened, I think my Wound is not a dangerous one but it is very painful. I was struck in the thigh by a Minnie Ball, the Ball is still in my leg. The Doctor is going to cut it out to day.... I am quite weak from the loss of Blood other ways I am feeling well." In an October 28 letter, Wood reported that the bullet remained in his leg because the doctors could not locate it, but that he was "getting along firstrate, the Doctor says I could not be doing better." Later in the letter, he describes the Battle of Pocotaligo, which "did not accomplish its object, but we whipped the Rebels and drove them from there [sic] Chosen ground and they run like Sheep across a Marsh & Creek and destroyed the Bridge so we could not cross. Night came and we were out of Ammunition so we fell back.... I was at my post doing my duty...when I was Shot." Upon his release from the hospital in November, Wood rejoined his regiment, which was stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina.

    At the beginning of 1863 the 7th Connecticut moved to Fernandina, Florida. While there, Wood's wound caused him some problems and he was hospitalized for a while. On February 2, 1863, while in the camp hospital, he wrote of his unhappiness at the state of the war, not to mention the Emancipation Proclamation, and how it was being managed. "When I went into the Army I didn't do so for the purpose of freeing the Slaves.... I do not like at all the way this Ware [sic] is conducted. It is all a Political and Money making affair. Some are getting Rich while others are getting very Poor. There is no more honor in the Army that there is in a Political party, and above all I have been used so very mean in this Regiment that I have no desire to remain in it any longer." In early March 1863, Wood finally received a promotion as 2nd Lieutenant, dating back to January 17, and obtained in 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 mid-July 1863. In his first letter to his new wife, dated July 17, Wood mentioned traveling through New York City during the draft riots on his way back to his regiment. "There was the greatest excitement in New York Monday, Tuesday, & Wednesday I ever saw. It was dangerous for a man in Military Cloths to be out doors, so you may know I kept very shye [sic]."

    In August Wood's regiment moved to Morris Island, South Carolina. In an August 30 letter from Morris Island, Wood wrote that he had command of a battery aimed at Fort Sumter. "On the morning of the 16th I was detailed to take Command of a Battery to help to batter Sumpter [sic] down and Ordered to it immediately, and there is where I was all day...getting my Guns ready to open fire in the Morning. My Second Shot struck the walls of Sumpter [sic] and made the dust fly, and thus it has been going ever since." Wood's regiment participated in the capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg on September 7 and operations against Fort Sumter and Charleston continued, with Wood's battery playing its role, which was "firing away at Fort Johnson on James Island. The Battery on James Island fires at us all the time but they don't do much damage. Last Night they throughed [sic] a Shell in my Battery but fortunately it did not Burst so we all escaped uninjured.... Gen Gillmore has drove all the Rebels off this Island and reduced Sumpter [sic] to a mass of Ruins.... Gen. Gillmore has done all that has been expected of him and more. He was sent here to reduce Sumpter [sic], then Admiral Dalghren [sic] said he would move his Iron Fleet up and take the Citty [sic]. Well Sumter is Reduced but the Bold Admiral does not take the Citty [sic], thus far the Navy has rendered the Army but little assistance."

    On October 16, 1863 the 7th Connecticut moved from Morris Island to St. Helena Island, South Carolina, and assigned to the 10th Corps, with orders "to drill for a new branch of the Service Called the Boat Infantry. Our Regiment is to be armed with the Spencer Rifle Seven Shooters. Our drill will be on the Water in small Boats made for us by order of Gen Gillmore." 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. On December 20, Wood wrote that several conscripts tried to desert and were caught. They were being punished by "making them carry a bag of Sand each weighing 40 lbs. 7 hours each day until further Orders. They have 5 minutes rest each hour. They have to keep step and are not allowed to speak to any one, if they do or if they stop walking and refuse to walk, the Guard has Orders to Shoot them."

    In early February 1864, Wood's regiment moved to Jacksonville, Florida. On February 20, the regiment participated in the Battle of Olustee, the largest Civil War battle fought in Florida, where Union forces were defeated and retreated back to Jacksonville. During March and part of April, Wood was on picket and fatigue duty most of the time. In mid-April, Wood and his regiment moved to Gloucester Point, Virginia, and assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps, Department of Virginia and North Carolina. At the beginning of May, Wood's regiment participated in General Benjamin Butler's operations on the south side of the James River and against Petersburg and Richmond, and were assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 10th Army Corps. The last letter in the archive that Wood wrote to his wife is dated May 8, 1864 from a camp 8 miles from Petersburg and 15 miles from Richmond. In it he reported that he was "safe & well", and that "We came up the James River & landed above City Point and marched out and cut the R.R. between Petersburg and Richmond...our loss was only 150 killed and wounded. Our Division was held in reserve no one was lost no men. I cannot tell you any news of fortifications to day. What our future movements will be I cannot tell. I only hope and pray that my life will be spared so I can after this Campaign return to my lovely & sweet Wife."

    The next letter in the archive is to Maria Wood from Captain John B. Dennis of Wood's regiment, dated May 17, informing her that her husband had died as a result of his wound received at the Battle of Drewey's Bluff, Virginia, on May 14. "It is with feelings of pain that I am compelled to write you that sad news of your husband's fate at the battle of Chester Hill [Drewey's Bluff] while nobly doing his duty he was mortally wounded by a shell from the enemy it severing his left leg entirely but we thought that he would come out all right but the constant fatigue & exposure which he had undergone... had so weakened him that he could not stand the shock. His leg was amputated and he died the next morning the 15th of May. You will mourn him as your lost husband and we all mourn him as brave officer and good comrade.... P.S. Perhaps you did not know that he was just promoted to a 1st Lieut. Which was the case."

    The remaining letters in the archive are mostly addressed to Maria Wood, with many expressing sympathy and support in the wake of her husband's death.

    Condition: The letters and documents in the archive have the usual folds; otherwise condition is good. The 2 certificates of discharge (#2 above) are torn and show burn marks on right side, with paper loss, with minimal effect on text.


    More Information: Charles H. Wood was born on Poughkeepsie, New York and later moved to Willimantic, Connecticut, where he worked as a clerk before the Civil War. He enlisted in the 7th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment on September 5, 1861 in New Haven as a first sergeant. He reached the rank of 1st Lieutenant. On May 28, 1863, Wood married Maria Dean of Willimantic, Connecticut. Wood died on May 15, 1864 from his wound received at the Battle of Drewey's Bluff on May 14.

    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.


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