Washington, North Carolina: . Envelope or Cover. This three-page letter is datelined, “Washington N.C. Jan 24th”” 1863. Its envelope is postmarked “Washington / Jan 26 1863” and bears a “Due 3” handstamp. Both letter and cover are in nice shape. In this letter, Judd writes a friend in East Hampton, Massachusetts and reports that he has recently encamped at Washington as part of the Union Army’s occupation of the North Carolina coast shortly before it was placed under siege by Confederate General D. H. Hill. Already, the Union forces were planning for its defense: “Thar is no Regt . . . that can be better trusted with the outer Picket Post than the Gallant old 27th. . .. Washington is a pleasant Town on the Tar River its streets are more regular & I think if any thing this place pleasenter than Newbern Our communication with Newbern are mostly by water, distance by water 120 miles by land some 35 miles But the Rebs & the lack of bridges rather interfere with the land rout. . .. It has been well fortified one long Fort has been built after Gen Fosters plan in shape like a star the fort is well maned the guns all of them are good some of the of long range. Four Block Houses have been built one piece of the battery in each. In the river opposite the Town are two Gun Boats of heavy armament besides the cavalry & infantry. . ..” He also comments on the freed slaves that had flocked to the Union lines as well as recognizing the 1st North Carolina Colored Volunteer Regiment, on of the first African-American units to be formed: “Two cos of the 1.N.C Regiment are her thy make grand soldiers. I think thy will fight full as well as our men in fact there is no other way for them they know to will if they are taken prisoner they must be treated with out much mercy As to the Blacks ther is no end to them you meet them at every turn They seem to have great respect for the Union Soldiers & regard us as their friends As a general thing they are very ignorant & degraded but there are some exceptions to this & noble ones to.”. Very good. Item #009398
The Confederate Army laid siege to Washington during March and April of 1863. Although the Union forces were far too to break through Southern lines, the Confederates would not have been able to take the city without incurring massive casualties. As a result, the siege developed into an artillery duel. Eventually Union reinforcements arrived by both land and river, and the Confederates were forced to withdraw in mid-April. A fine first-hand account of the Union defenses at Washington including the freed slaves that flocked to Union lines and one of the first African-American infantry regiments.