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    Union Private Charles Canfield, Co. D, 141st Pennsylvania Volunteers Archive. Approximately 70 letters and family documents, with as many as 60 written by Canfield during the war. The archive spans the years 1862 to 1892, the bulk of which date between 1862 and 1865. Most of his letters average 2 to 3 pages, and measure 5" x 7".

    Charles Canfield enlisted at the age of 19 as a private on August 22, 1862. He was mustered the same day into "D" Company in the 141st Pennsylvania Volunteers Infantry. Canfield was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville and the majority of his letters are to his grandmother with content regarding his recovery and his efforts to continue contributing to the war. Near the end of the war, on January 1, 1865, he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Veterans Reserve Corps, also known as the Invalid Corps.

    Canfield rejoined his regiment in April, after spending time in a convalescent camp. His letters share his good spirits and camaraderie. He is wounded at Chancellorsville, and his next letter home is written from Division Hospital on May 18, 1863 and gives an account of his condition as well as that of his fellow soldiers. He writes, in part: "I have lately received several of your back letters which were written before the battle and in them all you express great pleasure on receiving my own. With the additional anxiety which I know you will have since you have heard of my being wounded, you will be doubly anxious to hear from me. Since I have been here I have written you every other day and shall continue to for a time. Today I feel better than I have any day since I came across the river. My wounds are healing finely. I have fine been around to see some of the wounded boys. Which I have not been able to do before. My old schoolmate Ward is wounded three times in the legs but not dangerous. My tent mate Sergeant Hewitt is wounded in the arm. Out of the 5 in our tent there are three wounded and one captured so that only one remains..."

    Canfield was still in hospital at Brandy Station, December 24, 1863, writing (in part): "Was glad to learn that the folks were all well & my health is improving rapidly. I now sit up all day. I am still in the hospital and do not know how long it will be before I go back to the company. When I was the sickest I nearly froze my feat [sic] because the blood did not circulate freely and they are now so sore that I can scarcely step. Tomorrow is Christmas and I presume that you will have a good time of it at home, I hope so at least. I guess that we will have some oysters and a few extras that we do not have every day down here. Last Christmas I had a big dinner at Finley Hospital...You speak of my health not being good enough for me to follow the army but I would like to know how I am to help it. You want me to get out of it but how can I do it. I cannot do a thing. My influence isn't worth a straw. You can do 10 times as much. All the way anything can be done is thro' the influence of big men." Shows usual creases due to mail folds as well as some toning and foxing.

    Due to his injuries, Canfield was unable to return to his unit, but found ways to support his regiment behind the scenes, working in offices and hospitals when he wasn't recuperating. A reference from two of his superiors details the hard working young man he'd become: [March 30, 1864 - Camp Bullock] "It is with pleasure I certify that Chas. H. Canfield a private in Co. D 141st Reg't Pa Vols who was so severely wounded in shoulder and thigh at the battle of Chancellorsville as to render him unfit for field duty is a young man of excellent moral character, strictly temperant in his habits, is well educated, has good business abilities. He is a good soldier so far as he is able to perform duty. He has always been faithful in the discharge of his duties in the field." Paper loss at edges do not affect text, some toning and foxing as well as usual mail folds.

    Canfield was an eloquent writer and, after Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House, he gives great descriptions of the atmosphere and mood at the end of the war. A three page letter to his grandmother, dated April 12, 1865 reads (in part): "There are no patients and I have nothing to do as usual. There is no prospect of the hosp. being filled up now. We calculated that the war is nearly over. I may have to stay my time out and indeed I do not expect to get out sooner but somebody will. I am so glad that the war is almost over that if I was in the habit of getting boozy I have no doubt but that I should get pretty tight. I think that as it is I shall not get tight. But if I could sing I would sing Old hundred and wing up by shouting hallelujah! We have been having great celebrations here for the last few days & nights. The wildest enthusiasm has prevailed ever since we red [sic] the glorious news...The colored man that says he will go home with me is a soldier but as soon as the war is over he can go where he chooses. He was once a slave but is a very intelligent man." Slight toning at mail folds, paper loss at top corner, else fine. And he continues on May 16, 1865 (in part): "Old Jeff Davis is taken after all. That is about the winding up of the war. How quick the Rebellion went down when it got started once - it reminds me of a rotten pumpkin which remains whole so long as it is untouched but as soon as it is disturbed it squshes [sic] like apple sauce." Good condition, toning at mail folds, usual dirt and wear.

    The archive also includes a letter to Canfield, from his friend, William A. Barber. Barber shares his opinions about the war with regards to the end of slavery and the repairing of the country (four pages of bifolium, 5" x 8"): "Your very welcome letter of May 26th reached me some time ago. We supposed for some time that we were going back to rejoin the rest of Corps near Alexia, but now the report is that we are going to Louisville, Ky., but none appear to know certainly. The most of Shermans Army camped near us until they went west, most of the Wis. troops are with him and I had a very agreeable time visiting with old acquaintances and my brother, who is now in Harewood Hospital, but convalescent. I was much pleased with Miss Millers picture, but do not recollect whether or not I gave her mine. I have written to her however, but do not know whether there is any probability of her receiving it or not. I suppose she will leave the army now 'the war is over'. 'The war is over!' how thankful should we be that we are alive to assert it and how much more thankful that the nation still lives purged from her sins, a proof to the world that 'Republican' is the best form of Government and their stability, when founded in right and justice, established the transition state from nominally Free to actually. So is one of struggle; and no doubt the next twelve months will witness much unavoidable as well as evil-intended suffering. A race of hitherto slaves are actually and by statute free, and it only remains to be seen whether they are able and determined with the aid of all the friends of Freedom and Rights to assert and maintain their freedom and manhood. I believe they will, but do not exactly agree with President Johnson in his views of reconstruction... I fear my calculation to celebrate the fourth of July at home will hardly be realized, but I have great reason to be thankful for the prospect of celebrating our Independence more pleasantly than last year; then I knew that it was the fourth and that was about all." Slight toning at folds, some staining, else good condition.

    This is an extensive archive that provides insight into the varied day to day activities and experiences of Canfield during his time in the war and during his convalescence. His letters give a unique perspective into the life of men who were wounded but remained in service. After the war, Canfield would continue his work in the hospital, taking up the study of medicine. The collection also includes letters from various family members and friends post-war during the 1890s, including letters of condolence to Charles' wife after his death.

    Condition: The archive is housed in two large binders. Overall the condition of the items in the archive range from good to near fine with the usual toning and scattered foxing. All letters have creases from mail folds, some with the original transmittal cover.


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