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Sale 38 Lot 295

THE BATTLE OF FREDERICKSBURG, WITH ILLUSTRATIONS Superb content illustrated Union soldier's letter setting forth a moment-by-moment account of the battle of Fredericksburg as viewed by Cpl. Edgar A. Burpee of Co. I, 19th Maine, 12pp. 8vo., Fredericksburg, Dec. 15, 1862, in pencil. Burpee's letter to his father, which contains two small schematic drawings, reads, in small part: "...Our forces at the river engaged in laying the pontoon bridge...our division being in advance of the whole double quick crossed the pontoon bridge & set foot in the doomed city...guns of both forces constantly firing...bullets of the rebs came whistling over our heads...[Burpee adds a top view sketch of the pontoon bridge, river bank, and immediate surrounding streets]...their sharp shooters rapidly picked off the men...Gen. Burnside addressed [the 7th Michigan] saying he wanted the men to cross & appealed to their patriotism when they immediately volunteered to go. After taking a drink of whiskey the boats pushed off. The first man who landed fell dead...our batteries...completely riddled the houses nearby killing a large number of the enemy. Several houses were at this time on fire...our men proceeded to 'make themselves comfortable' by ransacking houses and fellow came out of a home dressed in women's clothes...every pocket was filled with tobacco...surgeons were busy attending to those badly wounded and the little foothold we had gained now became at once a scene of revelry & a hospital...stumbled over the dead of both sides...[wounded] crawl to some place of shelter and their groans tell their comrades come to their relief...we advanced toward the enemy and at the same time made space for those who came after to form in our rear to support us...we moved forward, one square at a time...the enemy shelling us at a furious rate...ordered to lie or march in a stooping position...covered from the enemy by the houses or fences...we advanced in strong force...[Burpee illustrates how certain regiments he names advance up streets and then re-form]...also a line of regiments was to extend along the whole length of the city...we lay on the 2s street until about noon...our men were sacking houses and looking for the inhabitants - when they left their city they did in haste & most of them left everything...a fine meal was prepared...our shot and shell...some struck chimnies, others would go straight through a house...ambulance corps were also engaged carrying off the dead & wounded...the rebs were in the buildings & fired from them...about the street many a dead rebel lay - one had his whole side & his arms shot off. Another had the top of his head & head & brains carried away.. The Rev. A. B. Fuller, chaplain of one of the Mass. Regiments also lay dead from a bullet in his breast...moved up to Princess Ann St...we had quite a force here...they threw shells into us quite freely...plunk the shells right onto the street where we was most every time...searched the houses nearby and brought from them bedding and a line of beds could be seen all along the street...colonel sent for us to go out on picket...[he adds a sketch of the position of pickets] post slept and the other kept awake...rebel pickets were in front of us only a short distance...digging their rifle pits...the rebels were on alert all the time and the moment one of our men showed himself either a sharpshooter or their batteries on the hill beyond would send a shot at him...about 12 o'clock skirmishing commenced on our left and in half an hour our troops became engaged...regiments were sent out to reinforce the picket. Soon brigades advanced - batteries came to the front and a general movement commenced...street now filled with moving lines of soldiers, officers now busy riding with speed...whole force moved to the left...toward the rebel batteries...we advanced slowly down the street under cover of the houses...musketry fire from their rifle pits which made our situation very critical...wounded men brought in by twos & threes...dead thickly lay upon the field and our lines were rapidly thinned...the rebels had a grand position...they could cross fire and their men was entirely concealed by their pits. Their lines of battle stood up on the hill ready for from both sides became general...a balloon was in the rear of the city to observe all movements...our regiment was in the advance but happily the shells went over us...we immediately lay flat upon the ground to keep out of the rebels sight...they commenced a cross fire...they could not depress their guns enough to hit us and out the buggers came from their earth works and commenced to shovel away...they run their guns out of the work...commenced a rapid fire which sent the shells into our brigade nearly every lick...We lay here with this battery playing upon us for perhaps 10 or 15 minutes when our batteries commenced to return their shell burst under their gun and threw it up as much as two feet...a line of skirmishers & their [?] picking off the men at their guns...[a skirmisher] says 'I'll have this fellow'. He fired but missed him. He coolly loaded again & says 'I'll have him this time'. Just after he fired the rebel clapped his hand to his head and dropped. Bully for the skirmisher...". Here Burpee abruptly ends his letter, likely running out of paper as he return to the first page and notes: "To be continued - Ed". Certainly one of the best-written Civil War letters we've ever handled, sold with Burpee's leather wallet, likely one he carried with him during the conflict. Burpee was taken prisoner on June 22, 1864 and imprisoned at Macon and Columbia. Very good.
Estimate $ 1,200-1,500

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