U.S. Sloop of War Saratoga at St. Helena Island, South Carolina: 1864. Envelope or Cover. This partially cross-hatched two-page letter from seaman Thomas G. Hall aboard the U.S. Sloop of War Saratoga at St. Helena Island to his parents in New York is datelined “South Carolina / Sept 18”. It is enclosed in its original mailing envelope which bears a 3-cent Washington stamp (Scott #65) and a double-ring “Port Royal / SC” postmark dated October 1, 1864. The letter is in nice shape. The envelope shows some postal wear. Hall’s letter reads as follows:
“The Steamer Harvest Moon came up last night binging despatches and a mail. I received two letters one directed May 29th and Sept 4th. We have been blockading off the coast of Georgia in Doboy and St. Andrews Sound, Georgia. We came up here about two weeks ago. I am detached at present on the Schooner Wild Cat doing picket duty between Port Royal and here. We were on 8 or 9 expeditions while we were at Doboy Sound. this is the first chance we have had of Sending letters since we left Port Royal. You must excuse this short letter for the mail bag is about to close. I send you some trophys taken on our expeditions You need not expect me home until the first of November. You state in your letter May 29 that you think I am angry with you of Libbie Horton your mistaken entirely this is the first chance I have had since we left the Break water. . ..You hardly need not write as I dont believe we will be here long.”
The raids conducted by the sailors of the Saratoga should not be confused with the looting and complete destruction of the undefended Georgia port town of Darien by two African-American Union regiments, the 2nd Carolina Colored Infantry commanded by Colonel James Montgomery and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw which had occurred a year prior.Rather, Hall is referencing the Saratoga’s legitimate military raids that occurred in August and September of 1864 and were led by the ship’s captain, U.S. Navy Commander George Musalas "Colvos" Colvocoresses. These boat raids captured over 100 Confederate soldiers and more than 20 cavalry horses. It also freed over 70 slaves and confiscated large quantities of ammunition, ordnance, and supplies. Additionally, Colvocoresses’s raiding parties destroyed an important salt works and strategic bridges. Very good. Item #010114
(For more information, see Smeltzer’s “The Burning of Darian” online at the Civil War Bookshelf and Winifred Ledoux’s “George M. Colvocoresses” at the Vermont in the Civil War website.)
Certainly, very scarce as only about 100 sailors participated in the Saratoga’s raids. At the time of listing, no letters regarding the USS Saratoga’s raids into coastal Georgia are for sale in the trade. None have appeared at auction per the Rare Book Hub. OCLC shows none held by institutions, however there may be some in in the Colvocoresses family papers at Norwich University..