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Letter Offers First Impressions of Service from a Young Carpenter from Massachusetts
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…the troops here expect an atact here every day; the enemy are within 6 miles of here with a large force.

JOSEPH W. MARDEN. Autograph Letter Signed, to his parents, George and Sarah Marden, July 28, 1861, Sandy Hook, Maryland. 4 pp.

Inventory #21265.15       Price: $125

Complete Transcript

             Sandy Hook Maryaland July 28th 61

Dear Parents

I goin to write A few lines. I am well as usual, had A good time coming here  Left Ft Warren tuesday arrived at fall river tuesday night took the steamer Bay State for N.Y. arrived at N.Y. ½ past 1 Oclock wednesday left NY wednesday at sundown for Elizabeth Port in A steamer  I dont know the name of her now  we were 3 nights in the cars  they went very slow some of the way. We had kinder of A tug boat for an engine. we stoped 3 or 4 hours in Lebbanon PA & were used first trait there. we stoped at Harrisburg P.A.  it is quite A pretty place there <2> we stoped between labanon & Harrisburg where there was A Sabbath school picnic. we went up where they were & they fed us pretty well  about ⅓ of us went up. we went through Baltimore singing Jon Browns Body hangs dangling in the air. we were all ready for them to mutton on to us but they didn’t seam inclined to it. there are several union flags flying in B. & the folks cheered us While passing through. We stoped in B some 3 or 4 Hours & went around Where we Pleased with out any questions being asked. when we arrived here, we met with friends. the troops here expect an atact here every day; the enemy are with in 6 miles of here with <3> A large force. we have got 3 batteries that the Rebbels left on the mountain. they spiked the pieces before they left but the mass boys have un spiked them. we are erecting batterries on the hills around this place. Cobs artillery is here, & we are making preparations for them. the 14th Regiment is there that was at Ft. Warren, when you was there. last night we had orders to strike tents & pack & in A few minutes they were packed in the wagons, & now they are raised where they were this morning, & to night we must expect another such order. it is sunday but no one would know it. Business is driving Here to day  We went through with dress parade this morning. <4> this is A Beautiful Country. some splendid corn fields in PA & MA  some sesession corn field look like that corn of mine did when I planted down on the flats. I am first trait & the rest of the Regiment is the same. Dont know of any more news to write. it isnt so hot here as I expected it would be. The Cornel orded A darnd lot of Cloathing Burried with boots shoes ammunition that were for the old Muskets.

                                                            Good by

                                                            From your son Josy

Direct J. W. Marden, Sandy Hook Websters 12 Regiment Co I Care of Capt Ripley Mayaland

[Envelope:] Mr George Marden. / Stoughton / Mass.

Historical Background

The 12th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was organized by Col. Fletcher Webster (1813-1862), son of famed U.S. Senator Daniel Webster. A graduate of Harvard University and an attorney, the younger Webster resigned his position as surveyor of the Port of Boston to raise the 12th Massachusetts or “Webster’s Regiment.” While leading his regiment at the Battle of Second Bull Run, on August 30, 1862, Webster was wounded in the arm and chest and died shortly thereafter.

During Marden’s year with the 12th Massachusetts, he served under Captain John Ripley, also of Stoughton, in Company I. The regiment first camped at Sandy Hook, Maryland, about a mile down the Potomac River from Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in late July 1861. Until the spring of 1862, the regiment largely picketed the north bank of the Potomac River near Frederick, Maryland. The regiment even offered a “Vocal and Instrumental Entertainment” in Frederick on January 24, 1862. Late in February 1862, it moved into Virginia but did not engage the Confederates until mid-April 1862, when it exchanged fire across the Rappahannock River. In September 1862, at the Battle of Antietam, the 12th Massachusetts lost two-thirds of its 334 men, the largest casualty rate among Union regiments in the battle. By then, however, Marden was in an army hospital in Alexandria, Virginia.

Joseph W. Marden (1840-1927) was born in Stoughton, Massachusetts, and became a carpenter’s apprentice by 1860. He enlisted as a private in Company I of the 12th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in June 1861. In June 1862, he went to an army hospital, and remained there until February 1863, when he was discharged because of “functional disease of heart & debility.” In June 1864, he married Mary Hammond, with whom he had five children. In 1870, he was a carpenter in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. After his first wife’s death in 1886, Marden married Lydia Merrill, a widow with five children, in 1888.

George Marden (1813-1888) was born in New Hampshire and in 1850 was a bootmaker in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where he lived with his wife Sarah Page Marden (1814-1903) and their four children and owned $1,200 in real property. Between 1843 and 1852, they lost four children to death as infants. In 1860, he was still a bootmaker in Stoughton, but only sons Joseph and Edward lived with them. Son George and daughter Massena had died as teenagers in 1857 and 1859. By 1870, George Marden was a railroad agent in Stoughton.


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