Edwin Wright letters  1862-1865
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of 28 letters written between Jan. 14, 1862, and July 14, 1865, by Edwin Wright, a soldier in the 9th N.Y. Cavalry. Twenty-six of the letters were to Loanda A. Lake in Charlotte, N.Y., and Hammonton, N.J. Two letters and a photograph (carte-de-viste) were sent to Miss Lotte Carle in Leon, N.Y. The letters were written from Washington, D.C., and various places in Virginia (Arlington Heights, Sperryville, Stafford Court House, Culpepper, Point City, Shepherdstown, White House Landing, and Winchester). Two of the letters have illustrated letterheads. One has the Capitol Building with the caption: " THE HOUSE THAT UNCLE SAM BUILT " (in brown ink). The accompanying envelope (in blue ink) depicts a mounted soldier with the U.S. flag flying in front of a camp (Jan. 14, 1862). The second letterhead (in black ink) depicts the Capitol Building (Oct. 8, 1863).

The early letters describe daily life (lining up at the " Colorline ", caring for their horses), living conditions (acquiring a stove, the arrival of " Sibley Tents "), listening to brass band music, and food (drinking coffee that was available 3 times a day, but tea only once a week; cutting down a " bee tree " to get honey). He talks of the dullness of camp life leading to desertions (March 4, 1862), and he much prefers scouting to standing picket duty or carrying dispatches, which often result in his separation from his regiment when they go into battle. He describes the forbidden fraternization of Union and Rebel pickets. " ... we would meet them halfway between the lines and exchange papers and have a chat, etc. and after a while shake hands and each return to his post " (July 22, 1864). He writes of bitter winters in Virginia, with half of their horses dying in February 1863, and men suffering from frozen feet in January 1865. He describes his regiment forming a line to stop a stampede of fleeing Union soldiers on the road to Centerville (Sept. 10, 1862), and capturing a recently made flag from one of A.P. Hill’s North Carolina units. " ...on it was printed all the battles in which they had participated. The latest date was the battle of Cold Harbor " (Aug. 6, 1864). He writes of being "brushed" on his left side and forefinger by a twelve pound shell (July 18, 1864) and in an August 23, 1864, letter tells of his disobeying an order to withdraw so that he could stay at the side of a dying friend and bury him. Brief mention is made of the execution of a member of his regiment (March 3, 1864).

Worth noting are the 14 very short poems that Loanda Lake jotted on the envelopes of Edwin Wright’s letters. As was customary, Loanda often wrote the date that she answered his letters on the envelopes. Below that notation, she sometimes wrote very short poems about the weather.

"And snow upon the ground

But every body seems alive

And so keeps tramping around"

The longest poem is six lines (March 20, 1865). The shortest one is a single word, "Wind", below a whimsical double loop, representing the wind (March 3, 1864). In addition to Loanda’s short poems, a single longer poem that Edwin sent to her is included: a parody of "The Lord’s Prayer" -- " Our Father who art in Washington Uncle Abraham be thy name... give us this day our daily rations of Crackers and Pork and forgive our Short Comings as we forgive our Quarter Masters... ".

This collection also includes 1 carte-de-visite of Wright.

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