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    James A. Hudson, 1st New York Cavalry Archive and Carte de Visite. A small archive of seventeen letters written by James A. Hudson of the 1st New York Cavalry, dating from August 29, 1861 to November 4, 1863. Hudson enlisted as a private at the age of 20 on August 5, 1861. He was mustered into Company H. of the NY 1st Cavalry, also known as Lincoln's Cavalry, and went on to serve in important battles such as Antietam, Winchester, Harper's Ferry, Kernstown, and Appomattox Court House. During his service, he was promoted to the rank of corporal. All of his letters are addressed to "Coz", Hudson's cousin, John Blauvelt.

    Just weeks into his service, Hudson wrote to his cousin with the shocking news of poisoning by enemy civilians. His August 29, 1861 letter from Camp Meigs reads in part: "There are 2 secession houses within 250 yds of us, at one of them 8 of Anderson's Zouave's were poisoned yesterday and died this morning. The poison was given in milk. One man was shot while attempting to poison a well on our camp grounds and 1 1/2 of arsenic found on him. We have been very cautious, and intend to be as long as we remain here....Passed Baltimore without any trouble...Tell the boys of the Richland County Home Guard that soldiering at home differs greatly from soldiering in the field...Report states tonight that the rebels are crossing in force within 3 miles of our camp. We are unarmed but we care not for them as our camp is surrounded by at least 30,000 armed troops..." [Four pages of a bifolium, 4" x 6"].

    After receiving the news of the taking of Fort Donelson, Hudson celebrated with optimistic views for the future. His letter, written on February 19, 1862, reads: "...You have no doubt heard the good news from Tenn. It was rec'd in camp last night with cheers and firing of minute guns, salutes &c. Just as soon as the roads get decent, you can rest assured that you will hear a good account of the army of the lower Potomac. We will be in Richmond before the first of June. Depend upon it, the battle of Bull Run No. 2 will be a far different affair than the one of last spring." [Four pages of a bifolium, 5" x 8"].

    On July 21, 1862, Hudson wrote of their mutual cousin, William J. Blauvelt of the 3rd New York Light Artillery, being severely wounded at the Battle of White Oak Swamp, where Hudson had fought as well. He had feared that his cousin had been killed, until it was later revealed in the papers that he had only been wounded. In part: "Speaking of the supposed death of Coz Bill. Having made inquiries concerning the whereabouts of this battery, we (Potter x 3) saddled up, as soon as the heat of the day was over, and after a 3 mile ride, and a few inquiries, we found the remnants of the Battery...Near the close of the engagement at White Oak swamp a shell struck and exploded in the battery wagon shattering it with kindling wood and killing several horses. Billwas at the time in charge of the swing team of this ill fated wagon...Bill was apparently struck by a piece of that shell as he fell to the ground and tossed about in agony a fiew seconds then arose on his feet, walked a fiew paces, staggered and fell. Just then the battery was hard pressed and an order to limber up was given and change position. From that time nothing more was seen of him and all think he is dead, until in the 'Herald of July 18th' his name appears among the wounded taken to Fortress Monroe. What the extent or nature of his wound is not stated, simply the name and address 'Blauvelt, W.J. 3rd New York Artillery, Mott's Battery.' He was highly respected and his supposed death cast a gloom over many and this paragraph in the Herald caused great rejoicing in the battery..." [Two pages, 5.25" x 8"].

    In the next few months, Hudson saw action at Antietam and an intense skirmish at Sharpsburg, but escaped both engagements unharmed. He wrote a short letter to his cousin and family on September 22, 1862, describing his near misses: "We have been roaming all over the country since we left Harrison's Landing, have got into a fiew scrapes and been lucky enough to get out of them all with whole skins, and now we are told that we have 48 hours to make a march of 100 miles to Cumberland Gape [sic]. We were are far north as Gettiesburgh [sic] Penn, last Sunday. My mare reced a slight wound in the leg by a piece of busted shell night before last and a fellow at my side next me was struck in the leg just above the knee by a musket ball. This is about the nearest I have come to being hit although balls whistled past much nearer my head than was agreeable..." [Two pages, front and back, 6.75" x 8.25" with original transmittal cover].

    The following year, Hudson's letter from August 15, 1863, touches on his service in battle and the regiment's prisoners taken during the Second Battle of Winchester. Hudson defends General Milroy and states that most of the POWs from his regiment escaped after capture: "The Shenandoah Valley is again our playground, but the game is not very interesting...Perhaps you wonder what luck our Reg. had in getting out of Winchester. 25 to 30 will cover our whole loss, more than twice this number escaped after being made prisoners. All of my company then started from Berryville have turned up beside 5, and of these, 3 we know to be prisoners. When the Rebs came on us in the Valley, Milroy's whole effective force did not exceed 6000 including our Berryville Brigade. At Martinsburg we numbered less than 1200. Milroy is called a coward by a part of the Northern Press & is now being Court Martialed in Washington. When the proceedings of this court are published, some people will for the first time read a history that will be no disgrace to our arms...There are a fiew Bushwhackers about, but our duty is light, and no much excitement, so time presses off rather slowly." [Three pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75"].

    In the last of Hudson's letters he discusses his enjoyment of his time in Martinsburg as well as those he deems as cowards who try to avoid service. Dated November 4, 1863, the letter reads in part: "We were all sorry to leave Martinsburg & its many 'pretty little maidens,' but as there is an abundance of game here especially Grey & fort squirrels, we are pretty well content. (Don't let Rosamunde see this part for she will give me a lecture I fear, for making and exchange of pretty girls, for Grey squirrels, calling the bargain a square one). I wish I had your old double barrel gun here & plenty of shot. However we do pretty well with the rifle. The weapon we use to bring them down is the Burnside Carbine, I never miss except when we take them on the run...Business (Reb hunting) is dull. I don't mean that exactly, the hunting is brisk enough, but the game is scarce...Well, our term of service is drawing to a close, & I must begin to think of what I shall do when Uncle Sam clothes & feeds me no longer...I wish things were in such a shape that I could stay in the service until we have buried the last reb. However I have got pretty well used to disappointments & I will take things, over which I have no control as they come."[Three pages of a bifolium, 7.5" x 9.5"].

    Archive also includes a CDV of fellow soldier James Potter, who worked as a farrier in the 1st NY Cavalry. There are an additional two letters from Hudson's uncle as well. Some letters in the archive have retained their transmittal covers, and all are in very good, legible condition.

    Condition: Usual mail folds with varying degrees of edge toning, foxing, and soiling. Some chipping at the edges of a few letters, which minimally affects the text. Overall good.


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    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
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