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A White Captain in the U.S. Colored Troops, Richard Andrews, Describes his Closing Days of the Civil War and its Aftermath
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“There will be an awful hot time if our Brigade is engaged. I dont think anything can restrain the men if they once get started. I am in hopes to come out alive, but no one can tell but the Almighty”

[CIVIL WAR – UNION]. RICHARD ANDREWS. Six letters to his wife Libby, approx. 15 pp. in all.

Inventory #22399       Price: $1,500

The white officer of the USCT, Captain Richard Andrews, wrote to his wife about the sieges of Petersburg and Richmond, and the impending Appomattox campaign. Union forces, including African American soldiers, captured Richmond on April 3rd, and Lee would be forced to surrender at Appomattox just over two weeks after Andrews wrote. In other letters, he details his health concerns, his transfers after the war’s end, and possibilities of land ownership. His final letter details an anticipated transfer to the Freedmen’s Bureau in Galveston, Texas.

RICHARD ANDREWS. Autograph Letter Signed, “Richard”, to his wife Libby, before Richmond, Va., March 25th, 1865, 4⅞ x 8⅛ in., 4 pp.                                                                      #22399.01

“…I received a month’s pay yesterday, bought a sword belt for 7.00 a pair of pantaloons for $12.00 pair of gloves for $2.00 paid $25.00 towards the present to Genl. Draper...As soon as I sell my horse I will send you more, if I had sold her three days ago I could have got over $100.00 for her, but now, she is very lame, so much so that no one can use her. I fear I shall have to dispose of her at a loss... We shall move in a very short time….Things are coming to a crisis. Lee will have to skedaddle or there will be a terific fight. Our brigade is practicing charging every day. There will be an awful hot time if our Brigade is engaged. I dont think anything can restrain the men if they once get started. I am in hopes to come out alive, but no one can tell but the Almighty. My health is pretty fair now, and I trust I may not even get wounded, for I am anxious to gain strength this summer...”

Historical Background

From Salem, Massachusetts, Lieutenant Richard F. Andrews fought in the Battle of Chaffin’s Farm, September 29-30, 1864. Just two months earlier, he was so sick that he was excused from duty, but he volunteered for service and helped lead the 36th Regiment of U.S. Colored Troops to victory. The performance of the USCT at Chaffin’s Farm (New Market Heights) put an end to any doubts of their bravery or fitness for service. There, Andrews was shot in the leg, and for his bravery, he was promoted to Captain.

The 36th Regiment of USCT was organized in February 1864 out of the 2nd North Carolina Colored Infantry. In addition to Chaffin’s Farm, it saw service toward the end of the Siege of Petersburg, the single greatest concentration of African American troops during the war, at Richmond and its occupation, and in the Appomattox Campaign.

The United States Colored Troops (USCT) were regiments of the United States Army during the American Civil War composed of African American soldiers. First recruited in 1863, by the end of the Civil War, the men of the 175 regiments of the USCT constituted approximately 10% of the Union Army. The United States War Department issued General Order Number 143 on May 22, 1863, establishing a "Bureau of Colored Troops" to facilitate the recruitment of African-American soldiers to fight for the Union Army. Regiments, including infantry, cavalry, engineers, light artillery, and heavy artillery units, were recruited from all states of the Union and became known as the United States Colored Troops (USCT). USCT regiments were led by white officers, and rank advancement was limited for black soldiers. Approximately 175 regiments composed of more than 178,000 free blacks and freedmen served during the last two years of the war. Their service bolstered the Union war effort at a critical time.

 

RICHARD ANDREWS. Autograph Letter Signed, “Richard”, to his wife Libby, near City Point, Va., May 9th, 1865, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ in., 4 pp.                                                                         #22399.02

“…I had quite a nap—fell asleep just after dinner, and snoozed away for over two hours, something unusual for me. I expect it is because I am growing so fat. I weigh nearly 150 lbs with very light clothes on. There is a prospect that we may remain here for some time. I see by the papers that the 25th Corps is to remain in Virginia....My friend Lieut. Bacon will be promoted soon, I think....Yesterday afternoon Genl D and I went down to the river and had a nice wash. I am as clean as a whistle. I think I shall have to get me a new coat this summer, mine is all to pieces...”

 

RICHARD ANDREWS. Autograph Letter Signed, “Richard”, to his wife Libby, on board US Steamship Western Metropolis, Hampton Roads, June 4, 1865, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ in., 1 p.       #22399.03

“…We are already to weigh anchor and be off. I can write but a word or two; and will send this note ashore by a tug-boat. I am in usual health - the diarrhea is better. I have just been aboard the steam ship ‘Doris’ and seen my horses. They are all right so far—there goes the Doris to sea; we shall follow very soon…Write to me...Direct to my name Act. Asst. Insp. Genl. 1st Div. 25th A.C...”

 

RICHARD ANDREWS. Autograph Letter Signed, “Richard”, to his wife Libby, Brazos Santiago, Texas, March 30, 1866, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ in., 2 pp.                                                                   #22399.04

“…I received a short epistle from Hon. John B. Alley, which pleases me much. I will give you a copy of it here [followed by copy of Alley’s letter] ‘I have made an application for you at the War Department & hope that it will soon be granted...Jno. B. Alley, Mass.’ What do you think of it Libby? I do hope I shall get an appointment...I took some pills from the Surgeon today, I hope to be better in a short time...”

 

RICHARD ANDREWS. Autograph Letter Signed, “Richard”, to his wife Libby, Brazos Santiago, Texas, April 9th, 1866, 7 ⅛ x 12 in., 1 p.                                                                         #22399.05

“…My health is improving, I am happy to say. I am sitting at my desk now with my sword, sash and belt…I have been quite busy, writing up my returns…I sent you a letter yesterday containing $20.00, which makes $160.00 I had sent to you within a short time. I will send you more as soon as I see my way clear…”

 

RICHARD ANDREWS. Autograph Letter Signed, “Richard”, to his wife Libby, Brazos Santiago, Texas, April 29, 1866, 4 ⅞ x 8 ⅛ in., 4 pp.                                                                   #22399.06

“…I have had an offer of 1,000 acres of fine tillage land for $400.00 with 5 years to pay for it. The Govt owes me 2 months pay now and when I am mustered out, I shall be entitled to three months pay proper which will amount to $180.00 more; then if I am mustered out here instead of following the regt. I can get my mileage which will amount to about $400.00 making in all about $900.00, all of which I could use on my little place, nearly $200.00 of that tho’ would be taken to get you and the little ones here...Two Surgeons own one half of the island [Padre Island] they have sent for their families...I have heard nothing from my appointment in the Reg. Army yet. I see by the Army and Navy Journal that Capt. R.F. Andrews 36th USCT is detailed for duty in the Freedmen’s Bureau and ordered to report to Galveston, Texas, but I have not yet received the order yet...”

Condition

Very Good to Fine.

Sources

Richard M. Reid, Freedom for Themselves: North Carolina’s Black Soldiers in the Civil War Era (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 2008).

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ncusct/cod36off.htm#2


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