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7th Massachusetts Infantry - NEW

Item LTR-8704
August 2, 1861 Henry Tolman
Price: $165.00


Original Civil War soldier's letter. 4 pages, written in period ink.

Washington Aug 2nd (1861)
No. 2

Friend Samuel,

Being at leisure this afternoon I thought I would improve it, in writing a few lines to you. We Marshfield Boys are all well at present, that is as far as physical health is concerned. There are one or two who are somewhat homesick, but time I think, will effect a remedy in their case.

I understand that some of our boys have been writing home that they are kept half starved. I do not know how this is. But one thing I do know, that is, that we get all the government allows us, which is all we can claim, and we have any right to expect. It no doubt comes rather hard upon those who have been accustom to living upon the best and plenty of it, to come down at once upon the soldier’s ration. But time, the great regulator of all things, will eventually make this all right. Bart informs me that you are getting up a company in your part of the town. He did not mention who the members were, but said they number 35. Neither did he mention for what purpose they were forming. I take it for granted that your neighbor Falvia is captain.

As regards the war, and the future operations of the army, I suppose you know as much about [it] as I do. I learn however, that you have got a wrong impression down that way in regard to this late battle. In fact, it is not surprising that you did judging, as I suppose you did, from the first reports. But the facts of the case are, that instead of suffering a defeat, our troops gained a decided victory. The only trouble was, they did not find it out in time to derive any advantage from it. And all this was in consequence of not having capable officers. Had General Scott or McClellan had the command instead of McDowell, Beauregard and the remnant of his army would now be cooped up in Richmond. The history of this country does not spare where more courage and resolution was displayed. There there was, by our volunteers on the 21st of last month. It only required some great comprehensive mind, a mind that should have known how the battle was progressing, at least he should have known when he had gained a victory. I say it only required such a commander to have made the 21st of July 1861, one of the brightest in our country’s history. That is in a military point of view.

I see that Mr. Russell, the well known correspondent of the London times, who was present at most of the great battles fought during the Prussian and Italian wars, and was also present at Manassas on the 21st, he says he never saw men fight as ours did on that day. The great trouble is, most people do not take into account the immense strength of the enemy’s position, which was rendered almost impregnable by nature itself, let alone his almost innumerable mask of batteries, towering one above the other on either side of the ravine through which our troops had to pass as they drove them from battery to battery. This kind of fighting requires the greatest nerve and is always confided to the most veteran troops.

It is whispered in high quarters that our regiment is to be quartered in this city and it is to constitute a city guard. Mr. Buffinton is using his influence to bring this about. It is said our colonel is opposed to this movement.

We are having real dog weather here, although the nights are quite cold, so much so that the Muckrakers can not live here. But I see I am growing careless and my pen is getting poor and I think I had better stop. Perhaps you think you have got your money’s worth. If not, let us hear from you and you shall have the balance.

Yours respectfully,
Henry Johnson

Please give my respects to all who may inquire after me and if it would not be too much trouble for you, I wish you [would] read this letter to my wife.

Please direct your letter to:
Henry Johnson
Co E 7th Regt, MV
Washington D. C.

With this direction it will find the Regt wherever it may be.