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Battling Mosquitoes and Confederates at the Mouth of Charleston Harbor
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“[I am] still alive and hearty although the mosquitoes have half eaten me. Charleston is not yet taken!!!

CHARLES BRANT. Autograph Letter Signed, October 11, 1863, Folly Island, 3 pp. large 8vo.

Inventory #21265.28       Price: $200

Complete Transcript

             Camp South End of Folly Island

                          October 11th 1863.

Friend Will,

            Being idle today and having no way to pass time, I came to the conclusion to write a few lines to you in answer to your letter of the 28th ult. Which came to hand a few days ago and found me still alive and hearty although the mosquitoes have half eaten me.

Charleston is not yet taken!!! As you are undoubtedly aware and if appearences are not very deceitful I should say it will not be for some time to come. During the past two weeks everything has been quiet; only an occasional shot or two landing on Morris Island from the rebel batteries at our men working in the trenches. I heard it rumored this morning that the Call would be opened again about the middle of this week as by that time Gillmore will have his preparations finished, but how true it is I know not. <2>

We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the next mail in order to obtain news from the “Army of the Cumberland.” Our lastest information concerning it dates Sept. 29th and it was more than probable at that time that another collision would take place between the two armies, and you can imagine with what anxiety we are longing to hear from the gallant army. I understand that the Eleventh & Twelfth Corps of the Army of the Potomac have been sent to their assistance. Is it true? If Rosecranz received timely aid, I have no fears regarding him, but it has too often been the case that the door was shut after the horse was gone. That to say the least it makes one apprehensive. With the Army of Burnside a portion of Grant’s and some from the Army of the Potomac besides his own gallant army, the indomitable Rosecranz would whip the entire Army of The South but as yet, I know not whether the reports regarding these reenforcements are true, but sincerely hope they may be. A reverse in that section now would protract the war to very indefinite period. <3>

By the time you receive this the election in the old Keystone will be over and I doubt not the Union ticket with A. G. Curtin at its head will have been elected by a rousing, old fashioned majority of about 30,000-40,000. At least I would judge so from all accounts I have yet seen. When old Democrats like Genl Butler go stumping on the republican ticket I can see no hope whatever for such men as George W. Woodward. A great man truly to bring before the people as the candidate for a public office at a time like this. Democrats or rather Copperheads must have been very scarce when he received the nomination.

According to your statement regarding the draft in the 23d District it appears that there are quite a number of cripples-but no, they are only physically unable to perform soldiers duty the word cripple is misapplied. Are there many single men amongst them? I suppose they are quite able to do anything else are they not? That is to say a great portion of them.

I will close. Accept of my best wishes for you all. Write soon, and believe me ever

                                                                        Yours truly

                                                                        Charles Brant

Historical Background

After the Union Navy made an unsuccessful attempt to force its way into Charleston Harbor in April 1863, a combined Union Army and Navy force made assaults on the Confederate defenses on the islands at the mouth of the harbor. After two unsuccessful assaults on Fort Wagner on Morris Island at the mouth of Charleston harbor in July, General Quincy A. Gillmore settled into a siege that forced the Confederates to abandon Fort Wagner and Fort Gregg in September 1863. In addition, the Union built up forces on Folly Island, to the south of Morris Island. Meanwhile, Gillmore turned his attention to bombarding Fort Sumter. Although he reduced the brick fort to rubble by late August, the Union artillery continued bombarding it through December 1863. The Confederates did not abandon Fort Sumter until near the end of the war.

Quincy A. Gillmore (1825-1888) was born in Ohio and graduated from the United States Military Academy as first in his class in 1849. He oversaw the construction of fortifications at Hampton Roads, Virginia, then returned to West Point as an engineering instructor. Beginning in 1856, Gillmore served as a purchasing agent for the U.S. Army in New York City. Early in the Civil War, he took charge of successful siege operations against Fort Pulaski in the Savannah River. After assignments elsewhere, he returned to command the Department of the South, consisting of North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, from his headquarters at Hilton Head, South Carolina. Gillmore remained in command of the Department from June 1863 to May 1864, and returned to command it from February to November 1865. After the war, he returned to New York City and became a successful civil engineer.

William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898) commanded the Army of the Cumberland from October 1862. Rosecrans quickly became one of the most popular generals in the Union Army. In late December 1862, Rosecrans began a march from Nashville against Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of the Tennessee. The bloody Battle of Stone’s River gave the Union control of central Tennessee, as Bragg retreated to Tullahoma, Tennessee. Rosecrans remained in Murfreesboro for nearly six months. Through brilliant maneuvers in June and July 1863, Rosecrans forced Bragg to retreat to Chattanooga. Rosecrans also maneuvered Bragg out of Chattanooga, but Bragg attacked at the Battle of Chickamauga on September 19 and 20. There, Bragg forced Rosecrans back into Chattanooga. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton sent two corps from the Army of the Potomac under General Joseph Hooker with 15,000 men to Chattanooga. Stanton also ordered Grant to send 20,000 men under General William T. Sherman from Vicksburg, Mississippi, to Chattanooga. Meanwhile, General Ambrose E. Burnside and his army at Knoxville kept Confederate General James Longstreet’s two divisions from returning to Bragg’s Army of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In November 1863, Grant also chose to replace Rosecrans with General George H. Thomas in command of the Army of the Cumberland.

1863 Pennsylvania Election was a gubernatorial election on October 13, 1863, pitting incumbent Republican Andrew G. Curtin (1817-1894) against Democrat George W. Woodward (1809-1875). Curtin won by only 15,000 votes out of more than 523,000 cast.


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