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    "The way the bullets did rattle was curious..."

    Soldier of the 17th Connecticut Writes of Battle and Being Wounded at Gettysburg. Autograph letter signed by J. Henry Blakeman, Company D, 17th Connecticut Infantry, four pages, 5" x 8", Jarvis Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland, July 21, 1863, in pencil, to his mother.

    A fantastic content letter providing a first-hand account of the first day of battle at Gettysburg. J. Henry Blakeman of Stratford, Connecticut enlisted on July 29, 1862 as a private. A month later he mustered into Company D of the 17th Connecticut Infantry. Blakeman writes in part: "Tomorrow will make three weeks since the commencement of the big fight and I was unlucky enough to get hit though I do not complain at my lot indeed I cannot when I see hundreds around me in so much more condition. On the contrary I feel thankful for the manner in which I escaped from the fate which overtook so many on that eventful day at Gettysburg. Any man who escaped with his life from that field although badly wounded may consider himself fortunate and preserved by some power above human...The morning of the fight...We marched double quick...and when we went into the fight which we did without rest I was almost exhausted. After going onto the field we lay for a few minutes supporting some batteries and the rebs had an exact range on us with their batteries being behind a little hill their shot and shell passed just over us. When we lay down doing no damage except two or three shells that exploded directly over us wounding three or four men. We soon heard musketry on our right and were up and formed into line of battle. Then advanced towards the edge of a pine woods through which the rebs were coming and where the 1st Brigade was engaged with them but before we got near them the 1st Brigade broke and ran through our ranks like a flock of frightened sheep. We then went on the double quick to the edge of the woods then stopped and opened fire. My gun missed fire twice and I was fixing to fire the third time when they knocked me over. Being unsupported our Brigade had to fall back but they did it step by step fighting all the way. I could not get off with them so fell into the Rebs. After our men fell back a little they were on one side and the Rebs on the other and I about between. The way the bullets did rattle was curious...I assure you still they did not hit me again and the Rebs made me walk two miles back into the country. Next day I was carried into the town on an ambulance and remained there till our troops took possession and was taken back two or three miles for fear the town being shelled...".

    Blakeman's letter is an exceptional contemporary account of the 17th Connecticut at Gettysburg. After the 17th's less than exemplary performance at the battle the regiment was sent south, first to Folly Island, South Carolina and then on to northeastern Florida. Included with his letter is a list of items with the heading "Articles contained in the box for Henry" presumably compiled by his mother and sent to him while he was in the hospital. The list includes primarily foodstuffs. Also included is the transmittal envelope of the letter from his mother to which his July 21st letter is in reply.

    The letter is quite legible and other than some slight toning to the paper and the usual fold creases, it is in very good condition.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    29th-30th Sunday-Monday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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