• [Civil War] 38th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Prepared For Attack; Lt. Earl To Hang As A Spy

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    The 38th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, was organized at Camp Cameron in Cambridge, MA, in July and August 1862, and at Camp Stanton in Lynnfield, MA. After two month’s garrison duty in Baltimore, the regiment embarked in Louisiana, being assigned to the Army of the Gulf, commanded by Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks.  The regiment saw its first combat during the Battle of Fort Bisland in Southern Louisiana.  In June 1863, the 38th took part in the Siege of Port Hudson and alter the ill-fated Red River Campaign.

    LEWIS JOSSELYN was a 21-year-old shoemaker when he enlisted as a Private on August 12, 1862 and mustered out on June 30, 1865.

    On January 17, 1864, Josselyn writes from Baton Rouge to his Mother in West Hanover, MA, 5 pp, 5 x 8 and (postscript) 7 ¾ x 9 ¾.

    “We have had a quite exciting times the past week, and I should have written to you about it before this...We were going to be attacked and all butchered up by some before this but we have not seen the butcher yet. The General I guess did really think we should be attacked by the preparations that have been made. Three gunboats have been up here three or four days, and now lay off in the river opposite the city. Night before last the 7th and the 22nd Kentucky regts came up from Plaquemines to reinforce us and last night an Illinois Battery came up so they are ready to give them Jessie if the rebels come in. Thursday our wagon train that went out after wood was drove in and the report was that there was a large body of rebels out about fifteen or twenty miles marching this way. The regiments all fell in here and a hundred rounds of cartridges given them and then stationed along the line of breastworks to await the no come rebs. They have been called into line quite a number of times since then. Some alarm being given, they would soon break ranks though. Last Monday, Lieut. Earl of the Wisc. Cav. Went out with a squad of men and was taken prisoner with part of his men, only 6 returned the next day the result of the Cav went out, but they did not discover any rebs...We have heard two or three times they are going to hang Lieut. Earl as a spy for he had a rebel uniform on when he was taken. I am afraid they will hang him for he is just as brave and daring a man as can be found anywhere and has caused them a good deal of trouble to look out for him. He killed two or three with his sabre before he was taken. When we were at Port Hudson, he was nothing but a corporal but was promoted to a Lieut for his bravery. He went over the breastworks there and was taken prisoner and then escaped from them. It will be a great loss in losing him now. The talk has been they are going to embarrass Clinton and Jackson within our lines and that our reg. and two or three others were going out there but I guess they will not go now till this excitement is over. Last Tuesday two prisoners got out of the jail but they were taken again. They were in jail for murder. They got the gun away from the guard and knocked down another one of our company that stood near and escaped through the gate. They were retaken the same day.

    “Eli had a letter from Frank yesterday. He writes he is a great deal better than he was and I should think he must be. He gained 17 pounds in 10 days...I saw in a paper...today the death of Edwin Forrest Josselyn...There were three more prisoners and confined in jail...Don’t be alarmed about our being attacked for I do not believe but what all will be quiet in a day or two. But if the rebels do come we will give them more than they bargained for.  Yours forever, Lewis Josselyn

    [Postscript] “I almost forgot to tell you that they have got small pox here. I believe it was a ‘n word’ that came down with it first. He was taking outside the picket line as soon as they found that he had got it...The Provost shall put out notices as soon as he found it...white & black people to be instantly reported to him and they would be seen to ...”

    Folds and light toning. Punctuation added and spelling corrected in transcription. Cover included.

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