Edmund Townsend papers  1862-1864
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Townsend's eleven letters to his brother, Samuel, provide little information on the war, per se, but they do provide a powerful image of a strong personality. From his first letter, in which he threatens two men and his sister-in-law at home for "develing" his wife ("I will cum home and kick his damned arse") to his protracted feud with Col. Jenkins, Townsend is consistently feisty and willing to fight for what he perceives to be his rights. Unfortunately, much of the original correspondence between the brothers is missing. There is a large gap between the two letters written in April and June, 1862, and the remainder of the collection written primarily in late 1863 and early 1864, and nothing at all written after May, 1864.

Among the highlights of this small collection are Townsend's detailed description of the railroad accident in June, 1862, and the series of letters written while he was under arrest. He records Jenkins' gloating "that he has me now and intends to keep me in arest," but later, after he has secured his release through Congressman Smithers' influence, he gloats a "general Shout and laugh [went] all through the Regt amongst the Privates and non commissioned officers when they herd Jenkins was in arest." His comments on Jenkins' alleged attempts to interfere with the soldiers' voting in the election of 1863, and on Jenkins' acquittal by a court packed with Freemasons are also of considerable interest. Finally, in February and March, 1864, while Townsend was attempting to resign from the service, there are three interesting letters in which he reports scouting out land to purchase in Maryland. He surveyed kaolin deposits on one tract, and was rapturous over an estate south of Annapolis that he purchased to farm when the war ended.

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