Monday, June 4, 2012

Civil War discussion - a letter from the war

After missing the April meeting of the discussion group, I was back for the May meeting, which featured a discussion of a letter from Private Ray Wells, to his parents, describing some of his activities around the battle of Manassas (er, Bull Run for the Yankees).

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Sir JJ Drinkwater and young Miss Hanna Bluemood (who had knowledge about the war beyond her tender years)

Private Wells was housed in the unfinished Capitol building, and his letter notes that he was writing on the desk of one of the Congressmen. He described an encounter with enemy troops, and some of the confusion in the ranks, and how he became separated from his unit. As he closed, he said he had heard his regiment was now in Arlington Heights (near what is now Arlington Cemetery) and he prepared to rejoin them.*

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Mr. Longfeather Pinelli, Miss Herndon Bluebird, and Your Humble Scribe

This was a workaday letter, the kind of thing one sends to one's parents - a little excitement, but nothing alarming. One wonders how his written view of the war differed from reality.

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Next month: an excerpt from Louisa May Alcott's Hospital Sketches.

* Interestingly, Wells said it was about seven miles from the Capitol to Arlington Heights. A quick check of Google Maps gives the distance as 6.8 miles, though how he crossed the Potomac is far from clear.

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