Item #009143 Union soldier’s detailed Civil War letter describing combat during the Battle of Bloody Bridge outside of Charleston, South Carolina

Union soldier’s detailed Civil War letter describing combat during the Battle of Bloody Bridge outside of Charleston, South Carolina

Folly Island: 1864. Unbound. This four-page letter was sent by Private Atwell B. Leavenworth of the 57th New York Infantry to his father. It is dated “Folly Island July 13. 64”. The letter is in nice shape with splits beginning at the ends of its mailing folds. Transcript included.

In the letter, Leavenworth relates his personal experience in the unsuccessful Union attempt to dislodge the Confederate defenders of Charleston from their positions on James and Johns Islands that was subsequently known as the Battle of Bloody Bridge.

The letter is in nice shape and reads, in part:

“I have been on a ten days expedition to James Island. . . . one man was shot through the lungs in my company he stood next to me I heard the bullet go through him we went to charge the rebble breastworks to capture a party of sharpshooters but when we got there they out numbered us two to one we come out of it quicker than we went in . . . that night we stood in our rifle pits in mud and water half way up to our knees it was the filthiest kind of mud to the next day we stood in the rifle pits & the rebs began to shell us I was struck on the Leg by a pice of brimstone out of one of their shells it stung me like blazes I thought it was going to rain fire and brimstone . . . the 56th was in several engagements. under Hatch one was close to our Left . . . the rebels charged on hatches batteries but paid well for it they went off like whipt dogs there was lots of reb women carrying off the wounded.”

Leavenworth also briefly discusses “Charley” Fremont’s split from the Republican Party, the draft law, Sherman’s march in Georgia, and the 55th Massachusetts, “a colored regt [with] the best band I ever heard. . . .”. Very good. Item #009143

Leavenworth’s military records show that he died at his regimental hospital on Folly Island later that fall from disease and “improper use of vinegar,” perhaps the result of an infection from his shrapnel wound while fighting in the muddy rifle pit.

In addition to the 55th Massachusetts, other regiments of U.S. Colored Troops participated in the Battle Bloody Ridge, and the 26th New York Colored Troops was given the honor of leading the assault on July 7th. Although their attack was initially aggressive, when the unit began to take fire “they stopped still. Their lines begin to break and they ran in retreat. . . . The Confederates won the day.” The artillery fire that injured Leavenworth probably occurred during a Confederate bombardment on July 8th. After minor skirmishing on the 9th, the Union force withdrew to its stronghold on Folly Island. (See The Battle of Bloody Bridge at

Price: $500.00

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