Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    Nathan E. Cory, 101st Pennsylvania Infantry, Archive of Letters. A group of approximately 24 war dated letters by Nathan Cory, dating from October 30, 1861 to September 16, 1863, written to his brother-in-law Peter Bailey. Cory enlisted at the age of 19 as a sergeant and was mustered into Company C of the 101st Pennsylvania Infantry. The 101st PA was attached to the Second Brigade of the Army of the Potomac and engaged in operations on the Peninsula. The Regiment served at battles such as the Siege of Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, and the Seven Days Battle. Cory was captured at the Battle of Plymouth on April 20, 1864 and held as a prisoner for eight months before his release was secured in December. Cory was promoted to second lieutenant in 1865, and at the end of the war mustered out at New Berne, North Carolina on June 25, 1865. Letters range from two to four pages, measuring 5" x 8". Cory's letters, which cover his first three years in the military, have numerous grammar and spelling errors.

    Early into his service, Cory was eager to begin his military career and to stamp out the secessionist movement. On March 18, 1862, writing from Camp Wilson in Washington, D.C., he reports in part: "I must tell you we are going to leave here tomorrow morning at nine oclock we are going to Alexandra in Virginia the first then I suppose we will take a fleet there. I can tell you we are going to have a fight soon we got our guns changed the other day, the colonel says his men can fight and they should have arms to fight with. We have got the ostrain [Austrian Lorenz] riffells the best gun out...I don't feel like going home till the war is over and I kill Jef or some other sesesh..."

    During the Siege of Yorktown, Cory's regiment was stationed just outside the city, but had not yet engaged with the enemy. Again, Cory was impatient to get into battle. His letter postmarked April 21, 1862, reads in part: "about 5 miles from nowhere that is from Yorktown". In part: "We have not been in any fight yet but we are looking for it every hour but we are ready for them most any time. We are in shelling distance of each other but I have not seen any flying yet but expecting to see some every minute. The prisoners is ahead at work on the roads as soon as they get the roads ready we will make another advance but I expect they will do as they have been doing fall back till they get us to the right place then give us hell but if they try that there will be hell giving on both sides..."

    One issue that many soldiers had to deal with was receiving their military pay. Writing near Fair Oaks on June 15, 1862, Cory describes the multiple roadblocks that his regiment was encountering on paydays. It reads, in part: "The reason our regiment did not get our pay was our Colonel took sick and died and our Lieutenant Colonel got wounded in the fight and the major and the adjutant is now both sick and it has left our regiment without a commanding officer and our pay rolls was not sent to Washington to be signed and so we will not get any pay till the next pay day..."

    By the fall of 1862, the regiment had moved from the Fortress Monroe into Suffolk, Virginia. Cory wrote to his brother-in-law about reassignment and of an incidental run-in with rebel skirmishers. His September 25, 1862 letter reads: "Well Peter I will tell you about the time we was brought from the fortress on the 18th to here. We started on Monday to hand up the rebs. We found them on Tuesday about 10 oclock we had a small scrimmage. We draw in there pickets and they ran over the river and drawed there bridge and opened there batteries on us. We only had two small pieces of artillery and we could not reach them. We only wanted to find there picket line and find out there force. We done that all complete there was not a man hurt in our company. We are expecting for to see the gray coats coming in here some of these days as thick as bees but they will get a warm reception..."

    Cory's letter from January 27, 1863 at New Berne details a young soldier who had been arrested as a deserter: "We was expecting to leave here every day but now I don't know whether we will leave here or not for the rebels are threatening an attack here but we are ready for them any time for I have a great desire to kill all of them that I can for I expect to get a plug from one some of these days for I have escaped damned well so far and it is not likely that I will escape always...Frasure is in the guard house for Deserting. Being as he is so young I suppose he will be get a Dishonorable Discharge and to lose his pay..."

    By the spring of 1863, it appears that Cory's desire for battle had begun to run thin. He describes a failed mission in his April 11, 1863 letter, written from near New Berne: "Gen. Foster is at Little Washington with some small force. I don't know how many but he is surrounded. We was sent for reinforcements but the rebels had the river blockaded and we could not get up the river so we came back to Newbern and started across the country...we crossed the Newee river at 12 oclock we started for little Washington by land we went...20 miles but when we came there the bridge was burnt and we could not cross...there was only one road to get in. The rebels was across and had the bridge tore up. They was in there forts and we could not get at them. We drove in there pickets we killed and wounded about 25 of them before they could get across. General Wessels says it was not managed right he says he will go himself and he will have them out of that but I don't want to have to go for we will have a hard fighting..."

    During the month of August 1863, Cory was suffering from a bout of illness, and was unable to participate in much action or drilling. By the following month, his appetite for soldiering had been restored. However, in a letter dated September 16, 1863, Cory criticizes those in the country, as well as those around the world, who believe the life of a soldier to be easy. He writes in part: "I don't care the war lasts for 10 years. I can stand it and fight them every day till I get killed or wounded. We can lick them and we are bound to lick them. And let any other nation reorganize the confederacy and then some of them old Lagerbeer suckers will have to shoulder there muskets and come down to dixeys land and march over the [illegible] south. I want to see some of them old copperheads have to eat as many wormy crackers and as much old rotten pork as I have eat and be glad to get it as I have been but damned if I would ask better now...I would like to see you all for I have some notion of reenlisting this fall. I want to stay in the service as long as the war lasts and I am tired of infantry. I want to ride a while for I can hurt the damned reches the best then..."

    The following year, at the Siege of Plymouth, Cory and most of his regiment would be captured on April 20, 1864. Cory would be imprisoned for eight months before being released. This archive of his letters is also accompanied by numerous other letters from Peter Bailey's mother, along with a handful of letters from other sources and post-war letters and documents.

    Condition: Many letters come with their original transmittal envelopes. Usual mail folds, with varying degrees of toning, soiling, and wear. Some with small tears or some paper loss. Overall good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 3
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 348

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2020 October 27 Lovell House Real Estate Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    Heritage has gone above and beyond my expectations in handling all of my transactions in a thoroughly professional manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone worldwide for the exemplary auction and valuation services they provide.
    Richard H.,
    Corsicana, TX
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search