CIVIL WAR LETTER - 11th Maine Infantry - BATTLE WILLIAMSBURG & More Content !! For Sale
CIVIL WAR LETTER - 11th Maine Infantry - BATTLE WILLIAMSBURG & More Content !!: $180.28
CIVIL WAR LETTERHenry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry Henry Clay Long (1838-1862) was the son of Miles Long (1804-1877) and Anna Bridgham (1810-1851) of Bucksfield, Oxford county, Maine. In 1861, Henry married Deborah (“Dora”) Packard Whitman (1837-19xx), the daughter of Joshua E. Whitman (1788-1858) and Catharine Pratt Davee (1791-1878). From the 1860 Census we learn that before the Civil War, and before their marriage, both Henry and Dora worked in the boot shop of Deborah’s relative, Elijah P. Whitman. Henry was a boot maker and Dora was a boot fitter.In November 1861, Henry enlisted as a 3rd Class musician in the 11th Maine Infantry on 29 October 1861. His motivation for enlisting was clearly for financial gain, though he did condemn the traitorous actions of those that brought on the rebellion. A 3rd Class musician—the most highly skilled—was eligible for $34/month in the service which appears to have been considerably more than he was earning as a boot maker.Not long after Henry arrived with his regiment in Washington D. C. in October 1862, however, he learned that Congress was considering the passage of a Bill to discharge all of the regimental bands. It seems that most of the regiments were accompanied by bands which prompted the Secretary of War and General McClellan to question the necessity of these highly-paid non-combatants. By early 1862, there were reported to be as many as 17,000 band members in the regiments reporting for duty, costing the government an estimated $5.5M a year in wages, not to mention subsistence.Ironically, when the 11th Maine was sent to the peninsula in the spring of 1862, the regimental band was forofferden to play their instruments by order of Gen. McClellan who desired not to give away the positions of the Union army. As such, Henry and his fellow band members tagged along with the regiment as they advanced towards Richmond serving no useful function until the Battle of Fair Oaks where they were caught in the maelstrom of the Confederate attack and ran from the field with their comrades, leaving their instruments, their personal baggage, and the stretchers they might have used to attend to the wounded.It is riveting to see the evolution of Henry’s ideas as to the likely duration of the war. At the start of the Peninsula campaign, Henry was certain the war would be over in a matter of weeks. “There is a large army in advance of us and it is nothing but troops in every direction. It looks as if there was enough to eat the whole South in twenty-four hours,” he wrote on 15 May, shortly after the Confederate army retreated from the Yorktown defenses and the second line at Williamsburg. But after personally witnessing the hand-to-hand combat and suffering the ignominious defeat at Fair Oaks, Henry was less certain that the war could be ended so quickly.Unfortunately for Henry, he was never able to get the discharge he desired and spoke of in nearly every single letter he wrote to his wife. After the setback at Fair Oaks, the 11th Maine was sent to the rear on the Chickahominy River where he contracted typhoid fever and died within a matter of about a month. He died on 7 July 1862 in New York City while in the service.In March 1867, Dora married Henry E. Hay of Lynn, Mass., a veteran of the war, having served as a sergeant in Co, I, 4th Mass Heavy Artillery.NOTE - The image shown below does not come with the letter.TranscriptionKent Court House, VirginiaThursday, May 15th 1862Dearest Wife,I take this opportunity to inform you of how we are progressing towards the doomed City of Richmond [and] also how I am getting along my own self. We are twenty miles from Williamsburg and within two days march of Richmond which is twenty-five miles. We left Williamsburg last Friday and arrived here last Tuesday night. We stopped two days on the road so we have been nearly a week on getting here. Our division has seen no fighting since the Battle at Williamsburg and then they did not have a chance to show their courage but I think they will have a chance before they get to Richmond (if the Rebels don’t run).I do not know how near we are to the enemy but as near as I can learn it is only four miles to where they have got some earthworks. They left this place the day before we got here. There is a large army in advance of us and it is nothing but troops in every direction. It looks as if there was enough to eat the whole South in twenty-four hours and I think they will do something of that kind e’re long. Our boats run within five miles of us—also the cars, I understand. We can hear the whistle and it sounds something like civilization. It had been so long since I had heard anything of the kind that it sounds good as we have been in the woods so long—it is nearly two months since I have seen anything but soldiers. We were in the woods (and a swamp at that) all the while at Warwick and now it is not much better although there is a few houses here. One that they call a public house or used to be, an old dilapidated thing, the court house I should think would hold about as many as the Foster school house. The jail they burned up. I suppose they thought some of them might get caught and put in there. The jail was about three times as large as the court house.I have seen all of the sacred soil of Virginia that I care about. Although there is some very pretty farms or plantations, but I would not take them and live here for them, It seems as if they must be out of the way of everything. I have heard the news of the evacuation of Norfolk and the collision that took place with the Merrimack. He race is run and I am glad and I believe that their show is about over and the curtain will soon fall and their dreams played out although they may make a bold stand around their capitol but it will be a short one. Our gunboats can go to Richmond and burn it in spite of them if they like but I presume they will not do it yet, or at all, for it would be surrendered. They must be in a tight place and how they are a going to get out of it is the question for them to decide, not us. If they are bound to fight, they will get all they want and more too in my opinion.I suppose that everybody where you are is anxious to hear from this army and are expecting a great battle but it is impossible to tell anything about what will happen to them or us but I am confident in our success in the end, whether Providence has anything to do with it or not. If it does well, we certainly shall be the victors. We have been blessed with beautiful weather for the past week which has made our marches much easier than if it was rainy, but today it seems to be making up for lost time and is raining like sixty. I cannot tell how long we shall stay here but in all probability, not long. But there is one thing certain, they cannot march another day in this direction without fighting a little. If the Rebels make a stand, it will probably be some ways this side of Richmond. But I will write no more about this for you are better acquainted with the movements of this army than I am—that is, if you get any papers to read. If you take a great interest in the warm which I know you do, you had better take a paper. The Boston Journal would be a good one and you can let Andrew subscribe for it for as long as you will want it. You can have it daily or three times a week or once, just as you like.Lt. Col. Harris M. Plaisted took over command of the 11th Maine in May 1862Tell Andrew that picture was a fair example of Jeffdom and the prospect is now that he will have to dance a jig upon nothing by next Fourth of July with a necktie made of the best of hemp and a nice black cap that will cover his head all up clear to his chin. I should like to play for him for I should have to play but a little while e’re he would be tired and quit.Our Colonel [Crawford] has gone to Washington and is now a Brigadier General. I am glad he is gone for we shall stand a better chance to get our discharge. Our Lieut. Col. [Harris M. Plaisted] says that he will get it [the band discharged] if possible and is a going to see about it today. But how he will make out, I do not know although he says that he can get it for us. But that remains to be soon. My health is good and I am feeling perfectly well and shall feel better if we get our [diacharge] papers. So I will close by offerding you goodbye again.Yours with much love, — HenryExcuse poor writing. Write soon.TERMS$3.00 postage in the United States. We accept Paypal.Postage combined for multiple purchases. Please wait for me to send the invoice, otherwise you will pay a higher rate.For International buyers, we utilize ’s Global Shipping Program. We had too many packages sent via the post office go missing. So we believe this program will be safer for us and for you.We are members of the American Philatelic Society, the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society, the Confederate Stamp Alliance and the Illinois Postal History Society.We only sell genuine, original letters (no copies or reproductions). Some of our letters have been transcribed and nicely presented for future genealogists and history buffs on the Spared & Shared blog. We have been selling on since 1998. offer WITH CONFIDENCE !