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    Humphrey W. Drake, 16th New York Cavalry, Group of Letters. Four war-dated letters from Drake to his aunt and father, spanning from September 16, 1864 to December 15, 1864. Drake enlisted as a private at the age of 21 in May 1863 and was mustered into Company B of the 16th New York Cavalry. Over the course of his service, he was promoted to corporal and then sergeant, but was reduced to the rank of private in July 1864. Toward the end of the war, he was transferred into Company C of the Third New York Provisional Cavalry.

    By 1864, Drake had become a seasoned fighter. He wrote home to his aunt to complain about the guerilla style fighting of the Confederates, noting that if it were a fair fight, the Union would surely win easily. His September 16, 1864 letter, written from Camp Armadale, Virginia, reads in part: "the worst of it is as soon as we get out of camp we have to keep our eyes open & have our revolvers drawn & cocked ready for use any moment so that Rebs can't pounce out of the woods or brush & surprise us. I can tell you what Aunt Eliza we have to use our eyes & ears for this country & I mean to be prepared to give them a warm reception whenever they pitch in to me. I don't care what the circumstances are. If the miserable people would come out of their hiding place & give a fellow a fair fight then a person might get some satisfaction before he was killed but to have them come out on a fellow as they did on poor Billy, there is not much chance for a person's life..." [Seven pages, 4.75" x 7.75"].

    About two weeks later, he wrote again to boast of a very successful raid conducted by his regiment, writing on September 28, 1864: "I suppose you have seen an account of the successful raid our Regiment made on the Rapidan. 300 of our Regt & 50 of the 13th under the command of Col. Cazelle marched over 100 miles in to the verry heart of their country, destroyed two handsome Bridges across the Rapidan, cut the telegraph wires for about 10 miles, burned the liberty mill with 5000 Barrels of flour, captured over 200 mules & horses also 30 prisoners, burned the station & several houses then marched through the [illegible] where the advance of Early's troops attacked our Regt over 4000 strong & only 350 of our Band. Our boys fought their way through & came back to camp with the loss of only 23 men." [Four pages of a bifolium, 4.75" x 7.75"].

    As the 1864 election drew near, Drake wrote a scathing letter home, denouncing candidate McClellan and other Copperheads who were in opposition to Lincoln. He writes in his October 12, 1864 letter: "You seem to think that I am a devoted follower of McClellans. That is I should judge so from the insinuations you cast in your letter. If I am wrong I beg to be excused. But I think I shall have sins enough to answer at the arrival of judgement day without adding another to my list as I most undoubtedly would do if I was a member of a party that were preparing themselves with guns and other equipment's to rise against the government that I am now trying to support in case they do not elect their traitorous candidate. You sir deliver me from all such leaders as Vallandingham & Geo. Pendleton & others. I tell you it is all the hopes the enemy have that McClellan will be elected this fall they think then that they can come to any kind of terms with the north & I guess they could." [Four pages of a bifolium, 8" x 12.25"].

    However, following the election, Drake believed that Lincoln's victory was a true turning point in the war, and wrote to his father on December 15, 1864: "with regard to this falls election I am sure that you do not feel any little over it than I do & it seems to have instilled our soldiers with a new hope, for our victories since have been great. The news in the Washington Chronicle today states that Sherman is in possession of Savannah & has captured 11,000 prisoners with a great deal of art. and small arms. It seems that the Rebels cannot compete with Sherman at all. at any rate I should prefer that Sherman had his own way about everything." [Three pages of a bifolium, 8.25" x 10.5"].

    A small, yet interesting group of letters from a Union cavalryman, with excellent content regarding the presidential election and the military actions at the end of the war.

    Condition: Usual mail folds, with light toning and foxing. Minor soiling in places. Overall very good.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    May, 2019
    14th Tuesday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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