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Civil War Correspondence sent by a member of the 165th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers during its defense of the Chesapeake Bay while stationed in Suffolk, Virginia
Suffolk, Virginia 8211 - This collection contains six letters (13 Dec 62, 31 Jan 63, 14 Feb 63, 17 Apr 63, 18 Apr 63, 2 May 63) by Private Samuel D. Reck, a member of the 165th Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, to his wife, Hannah, in Harney, Pennsylvania, and the postal envelope that was used to mail two of them. The letters vary in size and have a total of 22 handwritten pages. One of the letters is written on a patriotic lettersheet commemorating the Battle of Antietam. The 3-cent pink-on-buff postal envelope (Scott #U35) is cancelled with a blue circular handstamp that reads "NORFOLK/ APR 19 / Va". The letters and envelope are in nice shape; the envelope is a little rough along the right edge were it was opened. Shortly after the 165th was organized in November 1862 at a camp near Gettysburg, it was ordered to the front and deployed to Suffolk, Virginia via Newport News. At Suffolk, it set up defensive lines protect the southwester approach to Portsmouth, Norfolk, and the Chesapeake Bay along with, eventually, four other regiments that were formed into the First Division of the Union Army's Seventh Corps. The sector was initially quiet until 29 Jan 63 when the Confederate forces crossed the Blackwater River into southeast Virginia. The Union forces quickly reacted and the Union command dispatched a regimental task force (which included Reck's company) to drive the drive the Confederates south. The forces met at a place known as Deserted House, and the southerners were routed with alternating attacks by Union Cavalry and Infantry. Later in April, a Southern force led by General Longstreet and numbering at least 40,000 men approached once more, this time laying siege to Suffolk. The Confederates launched a number of probing sorties against the defenses that precipitated Union sallies-the most significant of which was made by the 165th-in response. Foraging became the order of the day for the southerners as the siege ground on for the next month before Longstreet realized the futility of his effort and retreated toward Petersburg. Reck, a very religious man, chronicled the defense of Suffolk in letters sent home to his wife, and it is interesting how they dovetail with official accounts of the defense: 13 Dec - "as it has been the will of the lord to land me on the banks of the James river we had the pleasure of holding a prair meeting on the Steam boat as we Sailed down the water . . . we now are encamped on his way to Ritchmond we are now about Seventy five miles fom Ritchmond there are about thirty thousand men encamp around us and mor comming ever day it is Just thick with tents and alive with people" 31 Jan - "we had another tramp after the rebbles and we caut them this time on thursday night at ten oclock . . . our company and company A was take out with too other regiments we was marched out about Sevene or eight miles till our cavalry cout the rebble pickets and drove them in and so we marched on till we got to the next and the cavalry drove them in we then marched on till we got to the next and the cavalry captured some off them and drove the rest of them in to buck horn station but then i tell you that we soon herd the elephant growl he mad a terrible noise for about too hours the balls and shells flew over our heads and the pieces flew in every direction . . . we then got reinforcement and . . . and after some heavy firing drove the rebbles back over the black water again . . . I came pretty near being hit with a cannon ball it fell about too feat from me but it hurt no one, god did Sertainly watch over us and he garded the balls and shells from us, . . . O that the lord will continue to watch over us and be with us whare ever we are taken if we have to face the enemy and to stand the bullets and shells." 14 Feb - "I don't think they will try to come here but they may come across black water again i will tell you the reasen that they come over here there is some rebble farmers out toward black water and they have got some pork laid up for
      [Bookseller: Read'Em Again Books, ABAA]
Last Found On: 2017-08-15           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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