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    William Crawford, 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry Archive. A group of seven letters from Crawford, dating from November 22, 1861 to May 21, 1863. At the start of the Civil War, Crawford left his home town of Philadelphia, PA and enlisted as a private. In July 1861, he was mustered into Company B of the 73rd Pennsylvania Infantry. The regiment saw action at numerous high profile battles, including Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Missionary Ridge. He was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville, and later taken prisoner at Missionary Ridge.

    In these letters, Crawford recounts several of his experiences in these key battles. Despite frequent spelling and grammar mistakes, the letters provide excellent content. Writing to his brother and friend on September 18, 1862, Crawford describes the harrowing experience of the Battle of Second Bull Run:

    "...we have been in several engagements and...I am still spared to write to you again since the battle at Slaughter Mountain down to Bull Run we have been in them all. We were six days fighting along the Rappahannock, very heavy again at Sulphur Springs and then down to Manassas Plains. It was the heaviest fight that we have been in the shot and shell were falling around and about us very thick & fast. Still we held our ground and trusted in the Lord. The battle lasted for two days. It was an awful scene to look on. To hear the groans and cries of our wounded. Our regiment was badly cut up and we are now left to mourn the loss of our Colonel [Kotles] who was killed while discharging his duty in the cause of his country. There is three or four of our company missing. Sergeant Allan is one of them. We had one man wounded with a piece of shell, but it is now getting better. We are encamped near Washington in front of the fortifications here we are under marching orders, but where to we know not... " [Two pages, front and back, 8" x 9.5"].

    The regiment's next engagement was at Chancellorsville, which Crawford remembers in vivid detail. He writes on May 21, 1863 from Finely Hospital, Ward No. 4, where he was recovering from his wounds: "...we left Stafford on the 13th of April to Mount Holly near Kellys Ford from there to Chancellorsville where we met the enemy. Tired and much worn out we arrived on the 29 [April] and had a skirmish the next day driving them back. Also on the first of May we held them until Saturday evening the 2d of May when the battle became general at 5 o'clock then we had it hot and heavy. The rebels came division by division, half drunk hooting and yelling like madmen. I never saw the like of it before. The heads and legs and in fact the bodies flying in the air. I really thought heaven and earth were together. We had three charges of grape and canister firing at them but we were compelled to fall back. I was fighting for one hour and a half when I was wounded in the arm above the elbow. Our brigade gets good praise for standing their ground so well when the other cowardly wretches were running away from us, leaving us to the Mercy of the rebels but when I look back and see the critical position I was in I have great reason to thank God that it is no worse with me then it is. I am getting along very well although I cant straighten my arm yet. It does not hinder me from writing although my arm still trembles with a little pain. We were badly cut up. There is still a number of our company missing yet. I should like to come home and see you all but I fear I won't get any anyhow, I will content myself the best I can. Give my love to all inquiring friends and ladies." On the letter's verso, Crawford has included a small sketch of where on his arm he was wounded. [Four pages of a bifolium, 4.5" x 7.25"].

    Crawford recounts other skirmishes, including chasing Stonewall Jackson through the Shenandoah Valley at the Battle of McDowell. On May 24, 1862, he wrote from Franklin: "...we have had a very hard time of it since we left Fairfax...we have been marching ever since traveling over mountains and rivers driving the enemy before us. Our hardships are many and my trials and temptations are severe...We are building fortifications here to receive Jackson and Johnston. We have been a long time hunting about the mountains for them. We gave Jackson a chase here but we expect him again. We hear nothing of war news whatever but I think the war is near to a close...I should like to be home and get out of this company for it is a ruination to both soul and body." The letter is accompanied by the original transmittal cover. [Three pages of a bifolium, 4.75" x 8"].

    Crawford was also incredibly religious, and his devotion to God is evident throughout his letters. At times, he was clearly struggling with dealing with the bloodshed around him as he tried to lead a devout life. In a letter dated March 23, 1863, he voices these internal conflicts: "...I have for the past few weeks striving with all my might to drown the sin that still rings in my ears...on Sabbath afternoon and evening I was very much struck at heart to hear the contrast of good and bad men while our right battalion were singing hymns of praise to the God in whom we live, our left battalion were uttering oaths of vengeance at each other. I could not refrain from shedding tears of sorrow. I had to leave my little tent of confinement and give vent to my tears in the open where I wept bitterly and though myself a sinner". [Four pages of a bifolium, 7.75" x 9.75"].

    It is unknown if Crawford survived the war, as records of him do not provide details of his discharge. His letters provide great content throughout. The letters also come with transcriptions and two original transmittal covers. A small, yet in-depth archive that offers the perspective of a young soldier in battle.

    Condition: Letters have varying degrees of creasing from mail folds, soiling, wear, and toning. Some chipping at edges in places. Penmanship is clear and legible.


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