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    [Battle of Chancellorsville]. Confederate Soldier's Letter by Corporal Isaac F. Dickens, Company K, 1st Regiment of the North Carolina Infantry. Four pages on a 5.5" x 8.25" bifolium, from camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia, May 7, 1863. Addressed to "My Dear Wife," Louisa E. Dickens, Dickens begins his letter by thanking God for having "spared your poor husband through two more of the Hardest Battles Ever fought on the American Continent unhurt while there has been hundreds yea Thousands of men slain in the two Engagements." The bulk of his letter provides a detailed description of the Battle of Chancellorsville and mentions the death of several of his fellow soldiers:

    "This fight commenced Last Wednesday at Fredericksburg and Jackson old Division the one we Belonged to flanked round from them and come in a way up from on the Right Flank of the Enemy and reached here Saturday Evening and attacked the Yankees and you never herd [sic] of such fighting in your Life. The Battle commenced Saturday Evening. The sun was about two hours high. We whipped the Yankees and ran them back some two mils [sic]. We took several pieces of artillery and charged the yankees Breastworks and ran them away. They Left Every thing they had Knapsacks and all and many man in our Company never got wounded But one.... We fought that night until about Ten o'clock and Sunday morning by Light the fight commenced again. The Yankees had reinforced and Built the Greatest Breast works in the course of the night you ever saw or heard of and we had them to charge Sunday morning about ten o'clock and the Yankees Laying there behind them shotting [sic] us with Cannon Balls, Grape shot, canister shot and rifle muskets and Every thing men ever was shot with. But our Brigade charged them and ran them out and took their position. But Oh Dear wife the men we lost you cannot tell. The crys and shrieks the poor fellow made was enough to Break the heart of any one. There is the place we Lost twenty six men on hour [sic] company Killed, Wounded...poor Asbury Dickens was shot through the head and Killed Dead however he did Breath until night so I heard the Ambulance Corps say. Blake Babler was shot through the head and Killed Dead. John Thompson was Killed Dead. Charles Griffith was shot in the head and leg and lived until night and died. Babe it was the hardest Battle I Ever was in in my life."

    According to writing on the envelope included with the letter, Dickens saw action in nine battles in the Civil War, and was killed in action during said ninth battle.

    The 1st Regiment of the North Carolina Infantry was organized near Warrenton, North Carolina, during the spring of 1861. In July of that year it was mustered into the Confederate service with more than 1,500 officers and men and ordered to Virginia. It participated in the campaigns from the Seven Days' Battles to Cold Harbor. At the Battle of Chancellorsville, the 1st Regiment of the North Carolina Infantry lost 34 killed and 83 wounded.

    Condition: The letter has two horizontal folds and one vertical fold, with small tears along the folds. There is a three-quarter split down the middle crease of the bifolium and areas of foxing throughout the letter. The canceled postal cover that accompanies the letter is in fragile condition.

    More Information:

    The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863. The principle commanders were Major General Joseph Hooker (U.S.) and General Robert E. Lee and Major General Thomas J. Jackson [C.S.A]. On April 27, Hooker led several corps on a campaign to turn the Confederate left flank by crossing the Rappahannock and Rapidan Rivers above Fredericksburg. Union forces concentrated near Chancellorsville on April 30 and May 1. Meanwhile Lee left a covering force under Major General Jubal Early in Fredericksburg and marched with the rest of the army to confront U.S. forces. As Hooker's army moved toward Fredericksburg, they encountered increasing Confederate resistance. Hearing reports of overwhelming Confederate force, Hooker ordered his army to suspend the advance and to concentrate again at Chancellorsville. Pressed closely by Lee's advance, Hooker adopted a defensive posture, thus giving Lee the initiative. On the morning of May 2, Stonewall Jackson directed his corps on a march against the Federal left flank. At 5:20 pm, Jackson's line surged forward in an overwhelming attack that crushed the Union XI Corps. Federal troops rallied, resisted the advance, and counterattacked. Disorganization on both sides and darkness ended the fighting. On May 3, the Confederates attacked with both wings of the army and massed their artillery at Hazel Grove. This finally broke the Federal line at Chancellorsville. Hooker withdrew a mile and entrenched in a defensive position. On the night of May 5-6, after Union reverses at Salem Church, Hooker retreated across the north bank of the Rappahannock. This battle was considered by many historians to be Lee's greatest victory. There was a combined 24,000 casualties, with 14,000 on the Union side and 10,000 on the Confederate side.

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