Chester H. Ballard papers
Collection Scope and Content Note
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The collection of 14 Ballard letters is unfortunately incomplete, providing only spotty coverage of the Civil War service of Chester Ballard in the 37th Massachusetts Infantry, from shortly after his enlistment in 1862 until the winter of 1864. While Ballard is not a particularly eloquent writer, nor is he especially introspective, at his best he provides clear and occasionally powerful descriptions of events. Two letters in particular stand out. In one, written on May 13th, 1864, after the nine days of continuous combat during the Wilderness-Spotsylvania campaigns, a confused Ballard laments the terrible losses inflicted upon his regiment at the Bloody Angle, and notes that the "regiment does not look much as it did when we left camp 10 days ago." The other letter, written on September 20th, 1864, includes an account of the 3rd Battle of Winchester, in which the 37th distinguished itself when their colonel, Oliver Edwards, helped to turn the tide of battle by grabbing the regimental standard and exhorting his soldiers to continue their charge. Ballard's other letters provide interesting descriptions of camp life in Virginia and of the soldiers' activities and morale.