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    Union Soldier's Letter by Norman Ray of the 33rd Massachusetts, with Fredericksburg Content and a Map, together with four additional letters. Five letters all addressed to his brother Melvin (Hiram M. Ray) totaling twenty pages dated from July 19, 1862 through April 17, 1863; most notably an eight-page letter with content and a map of the Battle of Fredericksburg. Norman J. Ray, of Lowell, Massachusetts enlisted on August 7, 1862 into Co. A, 33rd Mass. Vols. He would be dead from disease less than a year later on June 16, 1863, but not before passing through the horrific battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville.

    Writing from Camp near Falmouth, Virginia, in a letter dated December 20, 1862, Ray writes to his brother with news of the Battle of Fredericksburg. In part: "...when I wrote you last we were in Thoroughfare Gap, since that time we have been moving round considerable...we left the Gap on the 18th of Nov...came back over the same rout that we went up on...just got our 2nd camp fixed up...when we got orders to march...we were moving...Sigel's Corps containing 38,000 men, a part of them under the command of Gen. Slocum. We marched...10 or 12 miles a day and that was further than the wagons train could move...on the 3rd days march they did not come up with us...mud any quantity to suit, suited most [all] too well. Put your boot in it and...look out or off would come the sole...there was one horse that the men had to shove the mud away from his foot and pry it up with a spade...he could not lift it...Dumfries [is a] small place containing court house & jail also one hotel. Looked more like Mass. than any building I have seen since we left Alexandria. The next one was called Stafford that also containing Court house & jail...arrived within one & one half mile of Falmouth the 15th ...went to the right flank of the army that is now before Fredericksburg...we passed heaps of winter quarters used by the Johny Rebs last winter. When we crossed Occuquan River at Wolf Run Shoals there was 2 forts & a long string of rifle pits. If they had been maned...some of us would have got hurt...the 33rd was rear guard. We put a blue pill in or guns expecting to have a brush with Stuart's Cavalry for that morning they had robbed a sutler on the same road we were on...Falmouth is on this side of the Rappahannock & Fredericksburg on the other. The bombarding of the place by our army we heard very plain...some think that the Rebs are evacuating F. as we can hear their cars running nights...Fort Darling has been taken by Banks, if so Richmond is ours and if that is so no wonder they are retreating...if they will only get out from behind their breastworks...their pickets are one side of the river and ours on the other, both pickets struck arms and set down before their fires to keep warm. The Rebs say that if the 2 armies could come together they would settle this trouble in 2 hours-shake hands, take a drink of whiskey and go home. I saw a man today that went over the river with a flag of truce and one of the Rebs asked him if he was going to Richmond and he answered yes. When the Reb told him he would find a Stonewall, 2 Hills & a Longstreet to pass over before he got there...write often, Norman."

    A two-page letter sheet on which Ray draws a detailed map of the troop positions at Fredericksburg is dated "Sunday P.M. 21st". The map is drawn from the perspective of the Union side; positions of "Rebel Troops commanded by Stonewall Jackson" appear in the upper right; Union assault positions are noted as an "open plain called Burnside's Slaughter House" while the "City of Fredericksburg" appears behind those bloody fields. With other positions carefully noted, Ray's letter continues, in part: "...I herewith give you a description (taken on the spot by our special artist now with Sigel's Corps) of how things look through a glass...it will give you a slight understanding of how things look...it looks to me that if we were in this place that they could not drive us out. You speak...that Sigel has retreated with some loss...we have not had any fight...his loss may be in mules & horse for they lay around here...by the road side quite thick..." The original transmittal cover is included. The letter is written in pencil, with light soiling and staining to the sheet containing the map. The transmittal cover has paper loss where the stamp has been removed.

    With four additional letters, two written in 1863 with battle content and news from the front line. Three of the remaining four letters are written ink and all have their original transmittal letters.


    More Information:

    Additional letters in the group by Ray to his brother Melvin:

    Two pages, 8" x 12"; Lowell, Massachusetts; July 19, 1862. In part: ".the only brisk thing going on here is enlisting for the new call of troops. Lowell quota is 397 rather a large No. after there has so many gone before, don't know how many they have got so far, but not over 150.the city is giving a good bounty $110 (if they enlist before Monday night next), state $25 and then the months advance pay making $148 which is pretty good to commence with. I have had quite a notion of going this time myself but Addie [his wife] will not hear to it, but I had rather go now than to be drafted and then go. Meserve (that used to work for So. Co.) is going to be a lieutenant in one of the new companies. [Actually, Harry Meserve enlisted July 12, 1862 as a private in Co. A, 33rd Mass. He was quickly promoted sergeant major in August and became 2nd lieutenant in October 1862.] He has been after me three or four time. I could get a sergeants berth in that Co. Have you heard anything from Oren [Pvt. Oren Ray, Co. A, 5th N. H.].I wrote to his captain-directed it to Capt. Sturtevant or commander of Co. A, 5th N. H. [Edward Sturtevant was KIA as major Fredericksburg, Va., Dec. 13, 1862] Hope I shall get an answer in a few days.Norman J. Ray." The original cover, stamped "Sargent & Co.'s Express" is included. With flattened folds, gently toned. Bold ink. Cover has been neatly torn open at right.

    Two pages, 7.75" x 12"; Lowell, Massachusetts; August 6, 1862. Ray enlisted the day after this letter was written in Co. A, 33rd Mass. Vols. Within a year after writing this letter he would be dead from disease on June 16, 1863. In part: ".well Mel, I will tell you what it is those that do not enlist.[that] will be drafted and to guard against that.I shall enlist. They go to drafting here for the first call of 300,000 after the 15th inst and they have about 100 more men to enlist to full up the quota for the first call.if they draft 400 more for the last call I don't see how many of us there will be left as there is so many that are exempt from draft and then there is another class that will not go if money will prevent it. If I was sure that I would not be drafted I would wait and let some of the rich ones pay me for going, but there is no sure thing of that. The City are now paying to Vols. $1100, state $25 in advance and one month pay.as an extra inducement making $153.00 to start and besides this Addie can draw $4.00 per month which is called the soldier's relief. Morse (usually called Zake) [Pvt. Ezekial R. Morse, enlisted 8/8/62 Co. A, 33rd Mass.] one of the S & Co's. [Express agency Sargent & Company] drivers, Mr. Paul [Pvt. Cornelius Paul, enlisted 8/09/62 as a private in Co. A, 33rd Mass. Vols.] one of the messengers and Charley Richardson [Pvt. Charles H. Richardson, enlisted 8/31/62, 6th Mass. Vols.] now running to Salem will all go if I will and Daniel Eaton [possibly Daniel W. Eaton of Haverhill who enlisted 8/16/62 in the 50th Mass. Vols.].will go with us as he hailed me today and wanted to know about it.he said he talked to Lizzie about going. After the 15th the City stops paying a bounty and if I go I want that bounty and I think that a enlisted man will get back as soon as a 9 month drafted man. I suppose mother will think I had better not go, but I think if I don't enlist that I shall be drafted. Addie is feeling very bad about it, but she says if I say go she will not say no.Addie is looking over my shoulder while I am writing this.she says she is keeping up an awful thinking. She says tell mother that she said I should not go, but it is done no good.Love to all, Norman J. Ray." The original stamped transmittal cover is included. Very clean with flattened folds, a few stray ink stains and spots of foxing. The first page and half of the letter is written in ink, and is finished in pencil.

    Four pages, 7.75" x 10"; "Camp of 33rd Mass. Vols. near Falmouth, Va., 7 P.M. Jan. 27, 1863." In part: ".we thought we were going to see a little fighting last Wednesday, but a rain storm prevented us. We knew something was up a fortnight ago as we got orders to keep three days rations on hand.last Thursday.while we were on battalion drill we got orders to get ready to march "double quick" and in about an hour.our brigade started down the river past Fredericksburg some 6 miles.it rained 2 nights and days almost all of the time.a good many of the boys laid down on the ground with niching but their rubber blankets to cover them.I slept in a Sibley tent with some officers. We went down to support a battery. They had orders to commence firing at 6 o'clock Wednesday morning on the Rebs centre to draw their attention while our troops crossed the river on the right and left flanks.there were 80,000 troops that were going to cross. If it had not rained we should heard some noise Thursday.we had some 10 or 12.batteries there.I for one am sorry that it rained.their shells would not have reached us.after 2 days rain it is almost impossible to move here for the mud. We marched back here.all covered in mud instead of glory.I have got a fine boy born Jan. 5th, a 9 1/2 pounder. I wish that I might see him. I would give all of my old boots if I could. Addie and baby are both doing first rate.she named him Edwin Albert. Edwin for her brother that was killed on the Railroad.I suppose you have heard of Burnside's resignation and that Sumner and Franklin are called home. I wonder what all of that is for, for Hooker [is] in command. I guess they are going to try them all.I think they had better.let the general in the field have the whole command and [let him] do as he is a mind to. If Washington was out of the way for three months this Rebellion would be driven into the ground. This is the way I look at it.love to all, Norman J. Ray." Written in bold ink; with flattened folds. Toning with stray spots of fixing; the original stamped transmittal cover is included.

    Four pages in pencil, 7.5" x 9.5"; "Camp near Stafford C[ourt] H[ouse], Va."; April 17, 1863. In part: ".we had issued eight days rations.the regiments had received orders and had packed up all of their extra clothing and shoes.you can see that their was a rapid march in store for us.we have got a new brigadier general, arrived today. His name is Barlow (not Billy Barlow) a young man 28 or 30 years old. He appears a gentleman, but he cannot be any more of a gentleman than Col. Smith [who] was commanding.why he was not made a general is more than can be told in less.he was too good a man. There is not a man in the whole brigade but what is sorry for the change.from your bro, Norman." Written in pencil, very clean paper with flattened folds. The original transmittal cover is included.



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    12th Sunday
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