• Citizens of New Bern Warned to Leave Before Confederate Jackson's Burns the City; Union Sergeant Discusses Defenses; Provides Map

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    JAMES DROLSBAUGH was mustered into E Co.  PA 171st Infantry as a Sergeant on November 2, 1862.  In this 4 pp, 7 ¾” x 9 ¾”, ALS, dated January 25, 1863, to Belle and Effie, he writes in detail about protecting New Bern, NC, from an attack by Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill. He includes a detailed hand drawn map of the rifle pit created by 200 soldiers.

     

    "…We have not been in any battle yet but have made some narrow escapes…We got to camp near Newbern and put up shanties and carried brick 2 miles…but…the 22d we got marching orders…We took our march and went about 2 1/2 miles east of our old camp and [re]located on the shore of Neuce river below Newbern city on the railroad leading from Newbern to Beaufort…Jackson sent word for the citizens to leave town for he was going to burn it and our colonel told us he expected the rebels here before knight so we got to work and dug rifle pits and fortified ourselves but no rebels came here…They had better stay away.

     

    “We are on the ground that Burnside fought when he took Newbern City…This morning I was out looking at the graves of our brave soldiers who fell in the battle. It is a heart rending sight to walk over a battle field and see the remains of equipment of all sorts and cannon balls laying around…The first day we worked on our breastworks. We cut a ditch 8 feet wide, 8 feet deep and 185 ids long…200 men done this…work…These same 200 men dug a ditch 8 feet wide, 8 feet deep and 63 yards long all in one day. Look at the map and you can see where we are…[draws a detailed map of the rifle pit and includes surrounding landmarks, such as the Neuce River]…We are well under the command of Major General Foster. He was in our camp yesterday and today. We are the left wing of his army…We hardly have any preaching. Our chaplain don’t take notice of private soldiers and he preaches short sermons. Our men get corn and apple whiskey two times per day when they are working on the breastworks and they are crazy for it. They would rather have their whiskey than their dinner. I have not tasted it but…by the way it operates on some of them…it is very strong…James Drolsbaugh Orderly Sergeant, Company F 171 reg. P. M…".

     

    Light soiling, folds, some foxing and pin holes in one margin, but very readable and a dynamic letter containing his map of creative action taken by his regiment.


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