Lot 8    

Civil War Letter Archive of George A. Howe, Co. H, Ohio 148th Infantry
Special Collections: American History, Nov. 11th, 2010
George Augustus Howe letters, 1861, 1864. Belpre Home Guards and 148th Ohio Infantry; 22 letters (7 in Belpre Home Guards; 15 in 148th Ohio).

George Augustus Howe served in the Belpre Home Guards at the start of the Civil War, and enlisted for a second stint in the military when he was inducted into the 148th Ohio, a hundred day regiment. Neither unit can be counted among the military elite of the Civil War, and neither have left a significant record, but Howe's experiences are more representative of the typical union soldier, and perhaps because he is an intelligent, opinionated man and a good writer, his letters leave a strong impression of one man's war.

Like many militia units in eastern Ohio, the Belpre Guards were called up in the earliest days of the conflict to guard railroads and bridges as the Union army was being pieced together from scratch. After serving with the Guards for the summer, Howe apparently returned to civilian life until three years later, May 1864, when the 148th Ohio was organized at Marietta from the 46th Ohio National Guard (Washington County) and 26th (Vinton County). The 148th served their brief enlistment at Harpers Ferry, Washington, D.C., and White House and Bermuda Hundred.

For a man with such a slender military record, Howe was an unusually avid soldier. Writing from Belpre in May 1861, he seemed to be busting with pride over the Home Guards and ready to enter the fray: "We have got a grand rifle company of young men. There is also a large company of Silvergreys Car Company had a grand time night before list burning Jeff Davis in effigy. I supposed the war excitement is increasing rapidly throughout the whole county...." Yet by August, when other companies were being federalized and sent to Virginia, but the Guards remained in "Camp Miserable" guarding the railroad and Howe drifted away.

Howe's letters while in the 148th barely skip a beat from his early-war letters, setting the same optimistic tone and eagerness for soldiering. The series of 15 letters begins when the 148th passed over the devastation of the old battle field at Bolivar Heights before arriving in Washington, where there was an abundance of food and a side trip to the capitol building. It is little surprise that Howe was pleased. After this interlude, however, the regiment joined Benjamin Butler's entrenchments near Point of Rocks, Va., situated between the twin centers of conflict in Richmond and Petersburg. The reaction at his first sight of a colored regiment was considerably more positive than most of his comrades (" don’t think I ever saw a nobler set of fellows in my life, are well drilled and the Brigade Commander says they are all fight..."), and he reacted to the first experience of seeing a bombardment with aplomb: "I tell you what, it sounds grand to hear the cannons roar, especially when in a good cause." Yet Howe was an unusually sympathetic man and was deeply affected by the carnage: "I feel our men were using them, But alas! How much suffering it brings not only on the rebels, but on our brave boys. I feel for the poor soldier as I never felt before. I have seen ambulance load after ambulance returning from the front, loaded down with poor fellows wounded in every way imaginable. It is heart rending to see them, but yet they feel as warlike as ever, and many of them hope soon to join their comrades again in the deathly strife, believing that victory is ours...."

After his first taste of battle, Howe's feelings grew harder. On July 2, 1864, he wrote home from Bermuda Hundred to say he had "seen the elephant," but was still confident "that by the time our hundred days are out that the rebs will be whipped and that soundly too..." Three days later, however, he complained about news accounts the disparaged the performance of his regiment. "The boys say they want you to mark the person that started the report that we were ordered out and wouldn’t go but threw down our arms," he wrote. "We intend to see tho [sic] him when we get home, and I imagine he will be handled rather roughly. I can say our boys layed in the rifle pits for 8 days, and the rebs were firing away at us with all their might. The shell came in our camp very often, but none of us were hurt. We have seen the elephant, I assure you, and are not afraid to meet him again if need be. Why should we, I consider we would be doing our duty...."

Howe keeps up a running commentary on his family's farm and the demands of farm work in his absence, and lambastes the copperheads at home attempting to run off the men helping his father farm. "I don’t care how many threats they make, but let them undertake to carry them into execution if they dare. One hundred days will be out after a while, and we hope to return, and then they will have to fess. The government have us employed to clear up the ods and ends in the rear, and we think if things continue as begun, we might as well commence the work in Belpre as any where else… Tell Pa not to mind what the Copperheads say but keep as many contrabands to work as he wants and protect them too. They think by making threats they can scare him, but he needn't be afraid, they dare not undertake to drive them away...."

During the last couple of weeks of his enlistment, Howe was confined to hospital at City Point with a minor foot injury, remaining optimistic about defeating the Confederacy and taking Petersburg and Richmond and about the performance of the "colored" soldiers, adding a rather strange personal twist: "There are a great many new recruits arriving here every day under the last call of the President. I saw quite a squad from Washington County all of them colored…. I expect to bring a colored boy home with me to raise. It is the captains waiter. He appears like a smart boy and I think (and so do others) that he will be a first rate fellow if rightly trained. He is about the size of Willie Beurd. He will be a useful boy on the farm and will save you a great many steps. There has been several trying to get him to go with them but he says no. he intends to go home with Corporal Howe. He does any thing I wish him is very kind and seems to know his place well..."

One letter written on printed ballad by Henry C. Work, Brave Boys Are They: Dedicated to the Sisters of Our Volunteers, with elaborately engraved head depicting a cavalry engagement.

It is quite uncommon to find correspondences either from home guard units or hundred days men -- much less both -- and particularly uncommon to find such correspondences that are so extensive and literate. Unusual content with interesting details of the life of a surprisingly active and motivated soldier. Expected wear with some starting at the folds, age toning. An attractive opportunity.
Sold: $658.00
Price includes
Buyer's Premium
      Ask a Question

All Images

Comic Civil War Political Engraving About Copperheads,
Lot # 3 - Comic Civil War Political Engraving About Copperheads,
3” x 5.5”, with 8 lines of text along left side reading Right Off/For Salt River!/By Way of Delaware Bay!/The K.G.C. Steamer Copperhead, Capt. Charles/Brown (Tinder Box), Master. The T.B. Captain Brown/having been ordered off from Richmond by the ungrateful/Jeff. Davis. Will proceed direct to Salt R... > Item Details
Major General William B. Taliaferro, CSA, Cabinet Card,
Lot # 36 - Major General William B. Taliaferro, CSA, Cabinet Card,
A cabinet card of Major General William B. Taliaferro (1822-1898). After fighting in the Mexican war, Taliaferro returned home and took an interest in politics. From 1850 to 1853, he represented Gloucester County in the Virginia House of Delegates. He continued to be prominent in military affairs an... > Item Details
Sitting Bull's Nephews <i>One Bull</i> and <i>White Bull</i> Photograph
Lot # 70 - Sitting Bull's Nephews One Bull and White Bull Photograph
5" x 7" photograph by Leo D. Harris taken on July 8, 1934 in Little Eagle, SD. One Bull and White Bull were the only living nephews of Sitting Bull at the time of the photo. > Item Details
<i>U.S.S. Oregon</i> Sea Trials, Ten Photogravures,
Lot # 60 - U.S.S. Oregon Sea Trials, Ten Photogravures,
overall size 14 x 17"; image size 6.75 x 9". All dated and timed on verso. The U.S.S. Oregon was built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, CA. These sea trials thought to have taken place in the Santa Barbara Channel, before her guns were mounted, Aug 21-22, 1894. She was commissioned in 1896,... > Item Details
Yosemite Valley Boxed Stereoviews
Lot # 143 - Yosemite Valley Boxed Stereoviews
Underwood & Underwood book-form box containing 25 Yosemite Valley stereoviews. 22 on gray card stock and three on cream stock, all with imprinted captions in six languages or lengthy descriptions on verso and copyrighted 1901-1906. Includes all the expected views of Yosemite and one of San Francis... > Item Details
Sixth Plate English-Style Ambrotype of Two Gentlemen at the Beach, Plus
Lot # 130 - Sixth Plate English-Style Ambrotype of Two Gentlemen at the Beach, Plus
Lot of 5, including ambrotype, turn-of-the-century family photo album, quarter plate embossed calf case with gilt highlights, a heavily damaged sixth plate daguerreotype, and a sixth plate mat. The men in the ambrotype are wearing boaters (hats), popular around the turn of the century as summer head... > Item Details
Colorado and Grand Canyon of the Arkansas Photographs
Lot # 190 - Colorado and Grand Canyon of the Arkansas Photographs
Lot of three, including a 5" x 8" photo of a pack mule on a inclined track wearing a sign reading I HELPED TO BUILD PIKES PEAK RAILROAD, copyrighted Oct. 14, 1891, on a The W.E. Hook Wholesome View Co., Colorado Springs, Colo. imprinted mount. Also included are two smaller photos labeled Clear Cree... > Item Details
Civil War-Era CDVs
Lot # 44 - Civil War-Era CDVs
Lot of 4 albumen CDVs, including a photo of Col. Noah Orr (1836-1882), billed by Barnum & Bailey as the world's tallest man, standing beside a much smaller man with D.H. Wright's Terre Haute, Indiana imprint and pencil inscribed identification on verso, PLUS a photo of a cavalryman with binoculars s... > Item Details
Three Unusual-Sized Photograph Cases
Lot # 135 - Three Unusual-Sized Photograph Cases
All pressed paper; one 3 x 4.25 in. and two 4 x 4.5 in. First with geometric and foliage design, other two same with geometric design on one side, grapes on the other. One case also has quarter plate tintype of a girl and her dog. > Item Details
Alaska Gold Mining Stereoviews
Lot # 193 - Alaska Gold Mining Stereoviews
Lot of 10. All imprinted Keystone View Company, Copyright [1897-1900] by B.L. Singley, five cards on orange card stock, five on cream card stock, all with captions on recto and descriptions on verso. Eight views depict miners' travels and camps, one shows an ice gorge, and one a family of Malamut ... > Item Details
Ninth Plate Tintype of A Young Boy Playing the Mandolin
Lot # 155 - Ninth Plate Tintype of A Young Boy Playing the Mandolin
anonymous photo showing a young boy in a suit playing a mandolin in a Union case with deep blue velvet floral design opposite image.. > Item Details
Confederate Veteran, Stonewell Brigade Photograph
Lot # 33 - Confederate Veteran, Stonewell Brigade Photograph
5" x 7" photograph under glass in 6.75" x 8.75" hand painted wood frame, ink inscribed on reverse(sic all): James & Jenney Dohlman - Jim Davis' Aunt & Uncle. James born in Lynchburg, Virginia, 1841-1922. Confederate Vet. First battle of Bull run under Gen Bee. Transfered to Stonewall Jackson's A... > Item Details
Oklahoma Land Rush Boudoir Card Photograph
Lot # 197 - Oklahoma Land Rush Boudoir Card Photograph
On a brown mount, no photographer or publisher imprint, with Oklahoma handwritten in ink in the upper left of the photograph, showing ten men at a camp on the plains, with a wagon, tents, and permanent buildings in view. One man stands next to a horse and three hold young fawns on leashes. > Item Details
Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, CDV & Piece of Flag with Receipt
Lot # 47 - Confederate General John Hunt Morgan, CDV & Piece of Flag with Receipt
E. & H.T. Anthony backmarked CDV of Morgan, plus a 1" x 4" section of flag embroidered with Morgan's signature, plus a receipt dated August 6, 1881 for the purchase of the clipping for $5.00 from Maggie Hampton, wife of J.W. Hampton who rode with Morgan with the 10th Kentucky. > Item Details
Civil War-Era Booklets
Lot # 25 - Civil War-Era Booklets
Lot of 4, including General Washington and General Jackson on Negro Soldiers published by Henry Carey Baird, Philadelphia, 1863, 8pp, 8vo, PLUS About the War: Plain Words to Plain People by a Plain Man, published Philadelphia, 1863, 16pp, 8vo, PLUS An Appeal to the People of the North, fifth edition... > Item Details
Rhode Island Civil War Recognition Certificate
Lot # 19 - Rhode Island Civil War Recognition Certificate
recognizing Capt. Phanuel E. Bishop Co. B 14th R.I.H.A. and dated Providence, May 4th 1869, signed by Rhode Island Governor and former Union General Ambrose E. Burnside; 13" x 16", framed, 13.75" x 16.75" overall. > Item Details
Mexican War Souvenirs Captured by David S. Hoyt
Lot # 54 - Mexican War Souvenirs Captured by David S. Hoyt
Includes 1pp, 8.75 x 12.5 in., in Spanish, with calligraphic heading Artilleria, possibly a commission for Jose Maria Medina (?). Approved by Jose Maria Contreras. Plus two pages folded to 8.5 x 12 in. that appear to be account sheets or rosters, both in rough condition. Plus 8.5 x 12.5 in. sheet wi... > Item Details
Four Sixth Plate Tintypes of Young Children Charmingly Posed
Lot # 156 - Four Sixth Plate Tintypes of Young Children Charmingly Posed
Lot of 4 tintypes housed in the same floral Union case, including two of the same young girl standing on a chair in different outfits, and two photos of either siblings or a child photographed at different ages. > Item Details
Mettner Cabinet Card of a Young Woman in Patriotic Dress,
Lot # 132 - Mettner Cabinet Card of a Young Woman in Patriotic Dress,
ca 1890, albumen print of a young Clare Jaeblick wearing a star-and-striped dress, ribbon, clutching an umbrella in hand. Imprint of F.F. Mettner, Lawrence, Kan. viewed below, Clare Jaeblick/Lawrence Kansas/15 yrs 1890, inscribed in pencil on verso. > Item Details
Two Mid-Twentieth Century Western Saddle Catalogs,
Lot # 177 - Two Mid-Twentieth Century Western Saddle Catalogs,
both are 8vo size is illustrated self wraps, titles include Catalog No. 18-19 For 1931 N. Porter Saddle & Harness Company Phoenix, Arizona, 48pp, many illustrated including a number of fine Porter saddles, Crocket spurs and bits, Navajo saddle blankets, Stetson hats, sterling mounts and more, AND La... > Item Details
ITEMS 1-20 of 20
SKIP TO PAGE: