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Sale 38 Lot 294

THE 54TH MASS. SEES ITS FIRST ACTION Historic, fine content Confederate soldier's letter, 3pp. 8vo., James Island, SC, July 16, 1863 in which Lt. Samuel N. Kennerly of the 25th S.C. Vols. describes to his wife his unit's clash with the famed 54th Mass. in that regiment's very first engagement in combat. In part: "...We started out this morning to attack the Yankees at the dawn of day leaving camp...we reached nearly the place where the Yankee pickets were, and awaited for day - at the first dawning of day we deployed six companies of the Eutaw Regiment (including the Edisto Rifles) as skirmishers and moved forward in order to drive the Yankee pickets in which we did effectually, killing a great many as we advanced - but what kind of soldiers do you suppose we had to contend with, I suppose you think they were Yankees of course, but no, they were still lower than the Yankees - They were negroes, yes, Darling we had to fight negroes armed with guns. I had no idea of meeting with negroes till now and behold I saw them before me, we killed many a one, there is no telling how many was killed. Along my end of the line the men would not take any prisoners at all. They killed every one they came across. There were several instances when the negroes would surrender and would get up in two or three steps of us and the men would shoot them down, but on the other end of the line there were some 14 negro prisoners taken. There were a great many killed...We drove them to the gun boats, and would have captured a battery of artillery...we found out what we wished...there are not many Yankee troops on James Island...". He notes in his postscript: "You can tell Mr. Carroll about our fighting the negroes". Very good. Official records indicate that the 54th won the day at James Island, yet this letter shows clearly the opposite occurred. Two days later, the 54th Mass. would charge into history at Battery Wagner.
Estimate $ 2,000-3,000

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