John S. Corliss papers  1861-1863
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Collection Scope and Content Note

All of Corliss' 17 letters are addressed to his daughter, Mary, and son-in-law, John Hastings in North Grantham, N.H. The letter's content offers a limited description and has frequent grammar and spelling errors.

In one of the best letters in the collection (11 August 1862), Corliss, who by that point had been off duty with diarrhea for 52 days, rails against the idea of his son-in-law enlisting, arguing that if he could earn 50 cents a day at home, he should stay. Corliss maintains that northerners were being deceived into enlisting, that the war was not being fought to save the union, but to save the "Negro." He adds that slaves are better treated in South Carolina than the soldier, and that he works so that "every offersor ha[s] a neger wench hung far to his ass if I may be loud to use such words to express myself."

A racist and strong Democrat, probably a peace Democrat who had converted from the Republican Party, Corliss later (1863 February 21) writes that Union officers favor the black man over the white and "as long as the north stand on that ground the south will fight and we are not a goin to fight to save black rascals[. W]hen theu get redy to fight fore the unon then we are redy to fight and not til then this fightin fore black laisy raskels and son of black biches..."

Several of Corliss' letters from Saint Augustine are steeped in religion and discussions of missing his family. While they are fairly formulaic, making for less interesting reading, they do suggest the effect that religious evangelism had on the mind of some soldiers.

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