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Connecticut family archive with letters from three brothers in the Civil War
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you cannot harbor a thought of deserting that would be to become a traitor to the best government that ever existed besides the risk would be more than that of facing the enemy

[CIVIL WAR]. Archive of Elliot family letters. More than 30 wartime letters, mainly to their mother Hannah, Besides the letters described below, the archive includes another 5 from George, 11 from James, and 18 from their Euphrasia (Effie, a school teacher) and Mary (a housewife). With an additional 18 letters from 1905 and 1911 written by George, from the Soldiers Home in Los Angeles, to Benjamin F. Elliot in New Britain. All told approx. 55 letters, the majority of which have their original stamped envelopes.

Inventory #24509       Price: $2,300

George, the eldest son, mustered in to the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, Co. A on June 9, 1861. James mustered into Co. I of the 1st CT Heavy Artillery on June 10, 1861. Edward, the fourth of eight children, was the last to join, claiming (a year too early) to be 18. He enlisted as a private on July 11, 1861 and mustered into the 5th CT Infantry, Co. D, on July 22, 1861.

After Edward wrote a distressing letter to a sister, their father George Sr. responded (with his only letter in the archive) from Manchester, January 5, 1862.

            “It will not be necessary for me to remind you that it was against my judgement and advice that you enlisted. But having done so; no honorable course remains but to persevere till we conquer a peace…you cannot harbor a thought of deserting that would be to become a traitor to the best government that ever existed besides the risk would be more than that of facing the enemy; the penalty of desertion you know is Death; and the chances of being caught would be more than those against it…my dear boy be true to your country and its flag and if you have to meet hardship and danger meet them like a man…

            I have been at home two weeks sick, first for about 5 weeks I struggle against a hard cold and bad cough working beyond my strength until it ran into dysentery so hard that I had to give up and come home since then I have had a light run of Typhoid fever and now although still bad off with Piles and threatened with liver complaint I am obliged by circumstances to attempt to go to work again tomorrow.” A few weeks later, the boys learned that their father had died.

James Elliot, Fort Richmond, Arlington Heights, January 22, 1862. “George or myself were not permitted to pay the last tribute of respect to our beloved Parent… I went to see the Col to see if it was possible to get a furlough he said that word came to him from Gen. McClellan to grant none to anyone… the sad news was little expected by us since it was only a week since I read a letter from him.

Edward Elliot, Camp Near Hancock, MD, February 11, 1862, with envelope. Difficulty with military life prompted a gloomy note to his mother. “I was willing to give you and the children next pay day. But how much longer I cannot tell for I do not think that I shall be in the Army at any rate in the Regt for I am sick of this kind of staying here for it is not living to stop out here. Please to burn this up. I red in one of your letters you wanted to know whether I had found my blanket yet. I found that the blanket was not put down to my name. so I drew one…” Against his late father’s wishes, Edward deserted that June, while James and George remained.

James Elliott, September 25, 1862. With envelope. “I will tell you what I think helped it. Last winter I used to take the Colonels clothes down to Alexandria to a white colored womans to be washed, and several times I met a Mulatto there by the name of Berry.” James advised Berry on treating a cough, and later Berry gave James medicine that helped him with his own medical issues. He adds in a P.S., “I see by the paper that Horrace Brown is among the wounded in our 16th Regt. You see it is not those what come out first that are first to be crippled.

George Elliot, Fort Blenker, February 28, 1863. Their mother, Hannah, was left with little money to provide for her children. James and George did their best to support her, but George was careful about being taken advantage of with claims of their father’s debts: “I told you that not one cent of my money should go to pay Fathers debts while I was in the Army… I thought it the only safe way of doing business. …you may use the money just as you please only you must not use my name when paying any debts contracted by Father…” He goes on to say that his tools, being held by a Mr. Bidwell, should be given to James if he does not live. George was promoted to artificer, and mustered out on June 8, 1864.

James Elliot, Fort Scott, VA, March 27, 1864, with envelope. “George and I both think you had better not try to move until we get there and then we can see to it ourselves. We know it is to much for you to do…I had a letter from Hattie Sweet a few days ago and she sais Samuel is going to the Idaho gold mines with a company from Conn… A man by the name of Brewer a member of our company who deserted about one year and a half ago was drummed out of the U.S. Service today and given a dishonorable discharge. Six of our recruits have deserted they were regular bounty jumpers I think making that their business

James Elliot, Battery No. 4 Near Petersburg VA, September 28, 1864. “we have lost another by sickness which makes the loss of our company this summer 14 men… I hear tonight that our forces on the North side of James River have taken Chapins Bluff with some guns & prisoners last night, and even now there is some very important movements going on, what it is or what will be the result remains for time to reveal but I trust the days of the Rebellion are numbered and fast running out, for our armies seem to be having the best of success everywhere… the rebels tried our lines here last night but found us to strong for them…

James Elliot, Battery No. 4 Near Petersburg, December 4, 1864. “Perhaps you may be sorry to hear that I am to be promoted on account of my having to commence a new term of service, but Mother my duties will be much easier with less responsibilities than what I have had during the past six months.” James was mustered out as 2nd Lt of Company D, at Washington, D.C. on September 25, 1865.

A letter from a friend talks of a move for their town to split. A delegation went to the State, “but the legislature do not favor their ‘secession’ and gave them liberty to go home, and withdraw the petition. This pleases the East part of the town ‘considerable,’ ‘if not more,’ I assure you…” (M. E. Lewin East Longmeadow, MA, February 28, 1864.)

We’ve only glanced at some of these, and have not read George’s post-war letters from the Soldiers Home in Los Angeles. Those letters include clippings, at least one note written on the back of an ad for a motion picture, and a picture of building activity at Playa del Ray. Also included is a pamphlet on the History of the 28th CT Volunteers.

Condition

Varies. Typical folds and toning of the paper. Some of the letters are very light, and others very legible.


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