Civil War soldier’s letter from an atrocious speller describing the layout of the massive complex of forts and camps in Norther Virginia where tens of thousands of Union soldiers lived in tent cities, some on top of Union graves from the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas)

Alexandria, Virginia: 1862. Unbound. This two-page letter is datelined “Near Alexander va Nov 13th 1862.” It is complete with an inch of toning along the top edge. Short .5” splits starting at the ends of one mailing fold. A transcript will be included.

Aldrich was a member of the 12th Rhode Island Infantry. The regiment mustered into service on 18 October 1862. It was immediately deployed to Washington, DC and assigned to Casey's Division. It encamped near Arlington Heights and Fairfax Seminary in Northern Virginia as part of the Union’s defense of the Capitol following its defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). Very good. Item #009263

In his letter, Aldrich reports:

“as to the country it is all ruend hear if the North was in the same shap as the south is I think they might began to grumble for all you can see har is tents for a fur as you can see and the ground is all trampld up wee are a mile beyond fair fax cemnary and 2 miles this side Alxander on the East fort Elsworth on the south fort lions on the west fort Worth on the north fort Blanker we are about in the midle of them sence I left Washington I have not seen a fence nor a stoon wal nor cant see one for as far as I can see and I can see for 20 miles. . . . you think that five hundred are a good meney but if you bee on revue whare thare is 25000 as thare was last Sunaday you might think tham was a fine. they say that foks don’t sleep with dead focks but I don’t bleeve it for I have sleep with ded fooks thay were fixen our tent and the ground was uneven and in digen it level wee dug one foot deap we dug out a man that was bared in a fue days after the battle of bull run under whare I sleep but all of the ground is full of Dead hear”

He also mentions that he visited Alexandria where he saw the place of Colonel Ellsworth murder, purchased some song sheets, and was horrified by the number and condition of the sick and wounded: “I was yesterday to Alxandr and see where Col Alwerth was kiled in the Marchall Hotell and when I come by the north of Alxander and see the wounded and sick and disabled solgers thare is 16000 of them the most disgraded beans that I ever see in my life. . . . You can tell the girls that I bot some songs for them when I was to Alxander but lost them out of my pocket but I will get some more for them”

The occupation of Northern Virginia was peaceful, with the sole exception of Alexandria, where Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth was killed at the Marshall House hotel while removing the Confederate flag flying above it. For seven weeks Union forts were built along the Potomac River and planning was begun to construct a ring of camps to protect Washington. Following the Union defeat at Bull Run, makeshift camps and forts were built throughout the Arlington region to defend direct approaches to the Capitol. Forts Ellsworth, Lyon, Worth, and Blenker (later renamed Reynolds) were some of the most significant.

Price: $300.00

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