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    Civil War Archive of William Cluxton, 112th New York Volunteer Infantry. An extensive archive consisting of 55 letters (with 4 unsigned), including 50 Civil War letters from Cluxton to his wife Julia, dating from August 4, 1862 to March 31, 1863. In addition to Cluxton's Civil War letters, the archive includes 5 letters, dating from June 22, 1863 to February 5, [1865?] from Cluxton and other family members.

    Cluxton's letters, varying in length and sent from various locations, mention camp life, his health, the weather, and military news. After spending most of August 1862 in camp in Jamestown, New York, Cluxton's regiment moved to Washington, DC, on its way to Suffolk, Virginia. Writing from Washington to his wife Julia on September 10, Cluxton attempts to calm his wife's fears for his safety, by stating that she "must feel proud of your man and think that he is not a coward and is willing to spend his life for his country." While in camp in Suffolk, Virginia, Cluxton wrote to his wife on September 21 that escaped slaves provided information on nearby Confederate troops and criticized men in his regiment who claimed sickness when they heard a battle might ensue. In a letter to his wife, dated October 6, Cluxton writes about his thoughts on the war and his role in its outcome. "The South has got about sick of fighting and the north is not very antius [anxious] to fight. I do not believe if they dont settle this up you will hear about some of the hardest fighting that you ever did hear of for they say if the south does not settle or lay down thare [sic] arms that thay [sic] ar [sic] a goin to march right throu [sic] and cut and slash every thing that thay [sic] come to and if thay [sic] do thay [sic] will spill a good deal of blud [sic]...if it is my lot to fall you must think that that is for the best...if we fall fighting for our liberty it wont be any more for us than it was for our fore fathers." On October 18, he wrote to his wife about being sick and being treated by a camp physician. "The doctors when I was sick they give me more stuf [sic] than what I had taken for 15 years and I hope that I shal [sic] not halve [sic] to take as mutch [sic] in fifteen years more for such stuf [sic] as they give is a nough [sic] to kill any man." Several days later, on October 22, Cluxton wrote to his wife about numerous men in camp being sick and some dying from illness. "Julia I tell you that it is a hard place to be sick...if a man is very sick hear [sic] he is likly [sic] to dy [sic] before he ever sees home again. It is hard to stand by a soldier and see tham [sic] breathe their last when they halve [sic] always bin [sic] so rude and recklis [sic] that they will profane the name of God to the laste [sic] and O such shreaks [sic] before death."

    At the end of October 1862, Cluxton prepared a list of his activities during the month. On October 18, he wrote of his participation in a skirmish with Confederate troops. That morning "we heard the canons roar and then we was formed in line of batel [sic] and stayed and waited for the rebs and the oficers [sic] found out that they was geting [sic] on the back side of us and then we started back and marched until noon and there our men had a little skirmish with the rebs. We was formed in line of batel [sic] once more and the canons was a roaring on both sides but I was so tierd [sic] that I went to sleep when we lay in the line of batel [sic] and then we was marched down near whare [sic] the rebs was and formed a nother line of batel [sic]. The shels [sic] flew over our head and the canon balls but we did not get a chance to shout [sic] our little pop guns at tham [sic]."

    Cluxton saw action again in December 1862. In a December 14 letter to his wife, he describes a skirmish with Confederate troops. "I see as much of the war as I want to see. I see a nomber [sic] of our men that was killed and some that was very badly wounded. One lieutenant was shot throu [sic] the harte [sic] and I see one man that was shot throu [sic] the leg....Our men took 30 rebs and I dont know how many rebs we did kill. The rebs is hard looking men and they fight harder than I want for fight for as shure [sic] as the rebs comes whare [sic] the yankeys [sic] is then they will some one halve [sic] to fall....I thought that it was a prety [sic] closte [sic] for me. The shell or piece of the shell struck within three ft. of me and that is as close as I want to halve [sic] it." In a December 21 letter, Cluxton admits to his wife that the Union army cannot defeat the Confederates. With the Union defeat at Fredericksburg on December 13, Cluxton decided "that we canot [sic] never whip the South...our men canot [sic] do any beter [sic] nor they never will do any beter [sic] as long as they do as they do now." By the end of December, Cluxton was hospitalized with a case of typhoid fever.

    The year 1863 began with Cluxton's regiment still in Suffolk, Virginia, and he in the hospital recovering from typhoid fever, which would prevent him from camp duties for the duration of his time in the service. On January 1 he wrote his wife that "the 112 Reg is redused [sic] as loe [sic] as it is 300 men is all that can be mustered for duty. Some has got the feavers [sic] and some has got the measels [sic] and some is laim [sic] and...some has died." In a January 11, 1863 letter, Cluxton writes his wife that he is determined to leave the army when his time is up, no matter what. "I can get my discharge by giving fifty dolars [sic] but I am a going to try to stand it untill [sic] spring then if I canot [sic] get out any other way I will do something for I will not stay hear [sic] next summer. You must not let any one see this...[or] ...say any thing about it for if you do it will make a stir." On February 4, Cluxton wrote to his wife that he fought a soldier who had made a negative comment about her, "it maid [sic] me so mad that if they had not been for the boys I would ran the bayonet throu [sic] him. I had my gun in my hand and the bayonet was on for I had just come of [sic] from guard. It was a good thing the stoped [sic] me." He also mentioned a skirmish some of his regiment had with Confederate troops. "Our men had a fight with the rebs. The rebs come in within 8 milds [sic] of our camp. Our men went out and met the rebs. They fout [sic] for about 7 hours and the rebs run. Our men had about 100 killed and wounded and our men don't know how many rebs they did kill but they think a good many more that of our men." In a letter four days later (February 8), Cluxton wrote of an embarrassing moment during an inspection, which was caused by the aftereffects of the typhoid fever. "I stood in the ranks a bout half an hour and when the offises [officers] cam [sic] round to inspect our guns...we halve [sic] to throw up the gun with our write [sic] hand and catch it in our left hand. When he come along to me I tried to throw up my gun the first time that I tried I throad [sic] it up part way and I thought that I was strong enough to throw up a gun with one hand and catch it in the other so I tried it again and tho [sic] next time time I don [sic] worse than the first. I throad [sic] it up part way up and tried to catch it in my left hand and I could not hold it and it tiped [sic] over and took the major on the head. He looked at me and he said that I had no business in the ranks." By the middle of February 1863, Cluxton was again sick with a persistent cough and weakness in his limbs. He would soon be back in a hospital. As a result, he was not required to take on the usual responsibilities, such as picket duty. His bunkmate referred to him as his "old woman." In a February 29 letter home, Cluxton writes, "My old man has gone after some wood. He is a good fellow. We halve [sic] good times...we dont halve [sic] any swaring [swearing] nor any braging [sic] nor dont talk about fighting. Every thing is plesant [sic]. Maybe you would like to know...his name Horace Edwards. He call me his old woman because I stay in the shanty and wash the dishes and make the bed and do all the work in the shanty." Cluxton was hoping to get a furlough as a result of his continuing illness, and was prepared to use a ruse to get one, including asking his wife to fake sickness. In a March 6 letter to his wife he asked her "to play up sick and if you write to me you write and say to me or get some one else to write for you and say that your [sic] sick and want that I should come as soon as I can. If I want to see you and then I guess I can get a furlow [sic] you can tell that your [sic] sick and you can tell the truthe [sic] for you are sick of having me in the hospital." Cluxton was discharged for his illness on March 27, 1863. In a letter to his wife, written from Baltimore on March 31, Cluxton claimed that when he went to collect his pay he discovered that his papers were incorrect. "I could not get my money and I thought that I would stay and see if I could not get my papers... I sent tham [sic] back to the captain....I halve [sic] not heard from tham [sic] yet....They ar [sic] trying to cheat me out of my money that I halve [sic] worked hard for." Presumably, he received his back pay, since he was home by June 1863. In letters written in June, after he returned home, he was still quite sick.

    William A. Cluxton, from Westfield, New York, enlisted in the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry on August 11, 1862 in Westfield, to serve for a term of three years. He was mustered in as a private, in Company E, on August 14, 1862. Cluxton was discharged at Suffolk, Virginia, on March 27, 1863, due to inflammation of the lungs.

    The 112th New York Infantry was organized at Jamestown, New York, and mustered in for three years' service on September 11, 1862 under the command of Colonel Jeremiah C. Drake. The regiment participated in a number of engagements, including the Siege of Suffolk, Virginia, and the Battles of Drewry's Bluff, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Chaffin's Farm, Fair Oaks & Darbytown Road, and Carolinas campaign. The 112th New York Infantry mustered out of service June 13, 1865.

    Condition: Letters have the usual folds; some letters show weakness and separation at the folds, plus some toning; otherwise good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    October, 2019
    26th Saturday
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