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“…we shall cross at the same place at the time of the Balls Bluff disaster… ancious to avenge the death of our many fallen comerads.”
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MARK KENNEY. Autograph Letter Signed, Camp Stone, January 24, 1862. 4 pp. 8 vo. Some tears with no loss of text.

Inventory #21265.05       Price: $250

Complete Transcript

                                      Camp Stone

                                       January 24th 1862

Most highly esteemed Friend Lydia

Your very kind letter of the 24th came to hand in due time which was gladly received and I must ask your pardon for not writing sooner  my reasons were that I had no news to write but to night as it will probebly be the last opportunity for a while as we received orders to day at 12 o’clock to pack all our affects and hold our selfs in readiness to march at any moment <2> and as you are probebly aware we have got but a short distance to go untill we come in contact with the enemy. A distance of about one mile we shall cross at the same place at the time of the Balls Bluff disaster, but I hope it will be more successful  we have been under the sound of the Cannon all day in two different directions  I hope in my next to be able to tell you of Some grate Victory that we have won. we feel ancious to avenge the death of our many fallen Comerads. We have had but little cold weather here yet but plenty of <3> Rain and mud and this is evry thing but agreable to the Minnesotians helth good, my own never better. my weight is 175 and Strength in proportion. I feel thankful to my god that I have the Strength and opportunity to endure my part of the tryals and fategue of this grate Struggle. I have understood that my brother Joseph was on his way to join this Reg., but I grately fear that his services were mutch more needed at home and grater that this the schooling that the needs, and the army is the last place to educate the young where all kinds of idleness and profanity is practest but I nevertheless shal be glade to see him <4> and will watch over him and make his burden as light as possible.

            Lydia my memory is often Called back during the dead watch hours of the night, to the many happy hours I have enjoyed under your roof anciously waiting for the time when we may be permited to return to our peaceful homes. ask tim if he is ever agoing to write me a letter. With this I must close for the present waiting patiently to here from you agane.

                                                                        From your ever mindful Friend,

                                                                        Mark.

Historical Background

The author of this letter is likely Mark Kenney of the famed 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry. After participating in the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, the 1st Minnesota wintered at Camp Stone, near Edward’s Ferry, Virginia, from August 1861 to February 1862. On October 20, 1861, about one hundred men of the 1st Minnesota crossed the Potomac River into Virginia near Edward’s Ferry to gauge Confederate reaction. Finding none, they returned to their lines on the Maryland side of the river. The following day, Colonel Edward D. Baker, also a U.S. Senator, reinforced some Union troops already on the Virginia side of the river, exploring the Confederate defenses of Leesburg. However, too few boats were available, and a small Union force faced a growing Confederate response. Baker was killed and is the only U.S. Senator to die in battle. Fleeing Union troops tried to recross the river to safety, and some drowned in the attempt. Meanwhile, four miles downriver, Union troops, including the 1st Minnesota, crossed the Potomac at Edwards Ferry, but they played little role in the battle. Although small by comparison with later battles, the Union disaster at Ball’s Bluff and the loss of Baker had a disproportionate effect on northern morale and led to the creation of the Congressional Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War.

The 1st Minnesota returned to Camp Stone, between Poolesville, Maryland, and Edward’s Ferry and remained there until late February 1862, when it moved to camp at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry became one of the most famous regiments of the American Civil War. Formed in response to President Abraham Lincoln’s call for 75,000 troops in April 1861, and arrived in Washington in the summer of 1861. It fought with distinction at the first Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, and at the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863. In each of these major engagements, the regiment sustained high casualties in offensive movements. On July 2, 1863, at Gettysburg, General Winfield S. Hancock ordered the 1st Minnesota to attack a much larger Confederate force to allow additional regiments to be brought up to protect Cemetery Ridge. Of 262 soldiers who made the charge, as many as 215 became casualties within five minutes, arguably sustaining the largest loss by a surviving military unit in U.S. history. Because of their pivotal role in this pivotal battle, President Calvin Coolidge later declared that the regiment’s colonel and “those eight companies of the First Minnesota are entitled to rank as the saviors of their country.”

Mark Kenney (1842-1924) was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, and moved to Minnesota in 1855. He was a farmer. He enlisted in Company I of the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry on May 23, 1861, and was wounded in the hand and made a prisoner on July 21, 1861, at the first Battle of Bull Run. Kenney was released on parole on August 12, 1861, and sent to Annapolis. After his exchange, he rejoined the 1st Minnesota and was discharged with that regiment in May 1864. On September 5, 1864, Kenney reenlisted in the 2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery and received a $100 bounty, credited to Wabashaw County. He served until August 1865. In 1889, he entered the National Home for Disabled Veteran Soldiers in Milwaukee, WI. He was unmarried and had been living in Fort Snelling, Minnesota. He left the home in March 1892, but was readmitted from July to September, 1892, when he again left at his own request.

Condition

Closed tears and fold separations; Good


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