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    Union Soldier's Letters by Charles R. Codman, 45th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry. Four letters to his wife Lucy Sturgis Codman (1833-1907) in Boston, Massachusetts, 42 pages total, with canceled postal covers. All of the letters are written from New Bern, North Carolina between December 22, 1962 and June 4, 1863. All letters are legibly written, and have good content.
    1) Eleven pages, 4.5" x 7 2/8", New Bern, North Carolina; December 22, 1862. Codman describes in detail, accompanied by a drawing, his regiment's participation in the Battle of Kinston in North Carolina, which was "a severe initiation" for the regiment "into the perils of the field. We bore the brunt of it." Entering a wooded area to find the Confederates, Codman and his fellow soldiers were resting when they found themselves facing enemy fire. "The enemy...must have known our position well, as many men were hit lying down. One man was killed at my side and many were hit all around me. We were under fire about an hour and a half...we had lost 10 men killed & 44 wounded, a very severe loss for so short a time." Later in the letter, Codman writes of a subsequent engagement with the Rebels at Whitehall two days later, also accompanied by a drawing. Although his regiment was not needed and "did not fire a shot all day," it did lose "3 men killed and 10 wounded" because the enemy "were throwing shells across the river & the fragment from one killed Theodore Parkman as he was lying on the ground just in front of me....He never spoke after he was struck, and died soon afterwards having been unconscious all the time. We were so far in the enemy's country that it was impossible to take the body to Newbern and poor Theodore lies in N. Carolina far from his native soil."

    2) Ten pages, 4.5" x 7 2/8", New Bern, North Carolina; March 13-14, 1863. This letter includes a detailed map by Codman to illustrate an attack on the 90th New York by Confederate troops on the shores of the Neuse River. He describes the battle almost immediately afterwards: "This morning the camp of the 90th N.Y. across the Neuse River was attacked. This regiment is encamped alone on that side of the river - Neuse... You will see its position. They were ordered to surrender and given half an hour to decide. They refused & the enemy opened upon them with seventeen pieces of artillery. The gunboats soon came up and drove the enemy off - the 95th were behind breastworks - It is now 2 o'clock P.M. and firing has ceased entirely - In the meantime we hear that the enemy are in force on the Trent-road... The may attack us if they have enough force and if so it will be tomorrow... I can't hear that the 95th N.Y. sustained any loss to-day. They are said to have had a few wounded but none killed. We of course do not know if the enemy sustained any loss. Some few of their shells fell on this side of the River into the camp of the 44th (which I have marked on the plan)... 5 ½ P.M. I have just been to the Provost Marshal's and heard Capt. Messenger examine a deserter. The man says that the rebs have a pretty large force. They were driven back with slight loss this morning & threaten to renew the attack tonight. This man escaped by pretending to go & see the wounded but slipt down to the shore & waved his shirt to the gun-boat & took him in. He was an Irishman...

    3) Fourteen pages, 4.5" x 7 2/8", New Bern, North Carolina; April 1-4, 1863. In this letter, Codman relays reports of Confederate movements toward Washington, North Carolina, and of constant anticipation of an attack on New Bern.

    4) Seven pages, 4.5" x 7 2/8", New Bern, North Carolina; June 4, 1863. Codman mentions the 35th United States Colored Troops under the command of Colonel James Chaplin Beecher (1828-1886) son of the prominent minister Lyman Beecher and half-brother of Harriett Beecher Stowe. "The negro brigade is doing well. About 600 are encamped near us under Colonel Beecher. There has not been the least trouble on their account."

    The 45th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry was mustered into service for nine months on between September 26 and October 28, 1862. While the officers, such as Codman, were from Boston and the immediate vicinity, the ranks were recruited from over 200 cities and towns in the state. It numbered 40 officers and 918 men. It was actively engaged at the battles of Kinston and Whitehall, winning praise for its gallantry and efficiency in both actions. In January 1863, it took part, with two other regiments, in a five days' reconnaissance to Trenton, North Carolina, and later that month was detailed for provost guard duty at New Bern, North Carolina, in which capacity it served until April 25. On April 28, the regiment took part in an expedition to Core creek, on the Atlantic & North Carolina railroad, and engaged Confederate troops, resulting in the loss of one killed and four wounded. This ended its active campaigning, and it remained in North Carolina until June 24, 1863 when it broke camp and returned to Massachusetts, reaching Boston on June 30. The regiment mustered out at Readville on July 8, 1863.

    Condition: Usual folds, with small scorch mark on upper right hand corner of letter June 4 letter. Overall condition is very good.


    More Information:

    Charles Russell Codman (1829-1918) was born in Paris into a wealthy mercantile family from Boston. After graduating from Harvard in 1849 and Harvard Law School in 1852, Codman practiced law for a short while before concentrating his time to managing his father's property and affairs. He served a colonel in the 45th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, which he helped raise, from 1862 through 1864. After the Civil War Codman pursued a political career, holding political office several times, serving as a member of the Boston school commission in 1861-62, as a member of the Massachusetts State Senate, 1864-66, and as a member of the State House of Representatives, 1872-76. Codman also served as an overseer of Harvard College in 1878, a position that he held for nine years. In his later years, he was active in various organizations in and around Boston until his death. His wife Lucy and their nine children survived him.



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