BRAINARD T. CURTIS (1834-1917) enlisted as a sergeant, at the age of 27, on August 22, 1862. He had been a blacksmith before the war but felt it was his duty to serve his country. After enlisting, he was commissioned into Co. D of the 160th New York Infantry. The 160th was ordered to Louisiana in December 1862, where it was attached to the Army of the Gulf. Throughout his service, Curtis had numerous bouts of illness. He was ultimately discharged on August 12, 1863 for medical disability.
Offering a great group of four Civil War-Date Union home front letters, 14 pp, various sizes, written by Curtis’s family while he suffers in a New Orleans’ hospital as a soldier for the Union. The letters were written by Curtis’s mother and sister. Two of the letters were written days following the Battle of Gettysburg and contain some home front news about the battle. Other news includes many details of his neighbors and friends who suffered while members of the 111th New York Volunteers, reports of the capture of Richmond, the fall of Vicksburg and Port Hudson and activities of Copperheads and Secesh activities in the neighborhood, which could use his attention.
In small part: [Marion, NY, July 12, 1863, his mother writes, “...You had better try and get discharged...James West & George Durfee have been discharged. They are harty as ever they were...We have heard of the fall of Vicksburg &...that Port Hudson has fallen...We have heard that Brashear City has been taken by the Mexicans & that they were all slaughtered. Harriet James has not had a letter form Oliver...She has fears that he is a prisoner or else he is among the slain. There has been a sever battle down near the Potomac between Lee & our army. Our folks drove them but with great loss on both sides. The rebels came in Pennsylvania among the Copperheads & stripped them pretty well of horses, cattle. There was a grate slaughter on both sides. Our killed & wounded was about 15,000. Theres [their] killed, wounded & missing was 30,000. This was Wednesday, Thursday & Friday [July 2, 3, 4, days of the Battle of Gettysburg]. We have heard that William Burred [11th New York Vols.] was killed [July 3, 1863] & Jake way [Irving P. Jaques, 111th New York Vols.] & Jud Hicks...among the wounded Gideon Durfee & Dennis Clark’s son [Hiram G. Clark]. I have heard that Clark was dead. There was quite a number of deaths...It is thought that Lee cannot get back across the river...He must fight or surrender. It is thought they are fighting now. Mr. William Rutherford was buried today...I am afraid you are getting discouraged. You must look to a high-power than man...Put your trust in God...
July 13th, Harriet writes to her brother. “...Keep as cheerful as you can...try and get a furlow and come home for a spell. There is secesh copperheads enough for a good many soldiers to take care of here and thereabouts. The draft has commenced in this state and they have had to call on soldiers in New York...Copperheadism will show itself now...You did not write what ward you was in. It is necessary for us to know the ward...in order to have our letters come to you. Put your trust in God...If you know anything about Oliver’s whereabouts...I think he must be dead if he was taken by those inhuman Texas foe. I know that he could never live long with such treatment. If you have tried to get a discharge you had better. I heard the Captain Burwell intends to resign...If you can’t, try to be patient and get well...it seems to me that some strengthening letters would help you...Harriet J. Henrie...”
May 14, 1863, sister Harriet writes. “...Will has run some pretty close shots but come out hole at the end. The news that Richmond was taken created a great sensation, but it was all to get up and excitement and it had its affect for it made the copperheads draw down their tungs clear to there throats and now they durst not run them out for fear that they will get chopped off...Dear Brother while reading your letter...the account of your marches and the dangers that you have had to pass through it makes the cold chills coarse through my vans. Oh how much longer must this dueling be carried on. How many more are to be sacrificed [to] the Devilish appetites of sesesh and traitors, but I suppose...God will come in his own time...I wish you well and my last thoughts at night is that you and Oliver and all those boys I am acquainted with may return hom safe...But if we never meet again in this Vale of tears may we meet in a better world...Harriet J.H.
May 24, 1863, his mother writes. “...A dispatch came from Palmyra that Richmond was taken. The notice was read in all of the churches & so they went to ringing all the church bells. The news came all through Albany to Chicago. At Palmyra they rung the bells and fired cannon but all proved to be a hoot. I was so chest fallen that I could not make up my mind to right...your father & mother...”
Included with the letters are three original stamped transmittal covers, including a “United We Stand. Divided We Fall,” patriotic cover. Each is addressed to “Brainard T. Curtis, Co. D, 160 Reg. N.Y.S.V., Bank’s Expedition, New Orleans, L.A.
Letters are in excellent condition. Some soiling to the covers but stamps are intact and one is a fine patriotic cover. A great group of home front letters providing a wonderful narrative of the war back home with both true and false reports. Some spelling corrected in transcription for clarity.
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