[CIVIL WAR]. Group of 3 letters from Chester F. Hunt, Rhode Island 1st Light Artillery, Battery B, KIA Bristoe Station.

Chester Hunt enlisted after Lincoln's call for 3-year men, mustering into Battery B of the 1st Rhode Island Light Artillery in August 1861. The archive consists of three letters written to his mother in mid-1862. A typical volunteer artillery regiment, Battery B "saw the elepahnt" at Ball's Bluff, then campaigned with the Army of the Potomac through the Peninsula, to Antietam, Fredericksburg, Maryes Heights, Gettysburg where they served gloriously, fired the opening gun at Bristoe Station and Mine Run, then embarked on the Wilderness campaign to Cold Harbor and Petersburg. They were nearly all captured at Reams' Station. They eventually took part in the grand review in Washington, although Chester Hunt was not with them, having been killed at Bristoe Station.

The first letter is dated March 16, 1862, Harpers Ferry, 4pp on patriotic stationery. Everyone at Harpers Ferry started for Winchester, VA the previous week. They stopped for the night one mile from where John Brown was hanged. They continued the next day and camped in the same place the Confederates had been the night before. As they chased the rebel troops through Winchester, "the infantry went past double quick and the artillery and ambulances carriages for carrying the dead ad wounded in went thundering by. [E]very thing looked more like a Battle than any thing he have seen before." They made it through Winchester a couple days later. "Our troops that stayed in Winchester that night said that the rebel Gen. Jackson said that there was nine miles of Yankees after him and he thought it was best for him to leave. We stayed in the woods about fifteen minutes. Orders came for us to report back again at Harpers Ferry as soon as possible....Yesterday afternoon we were transferred into another division. Tomorrow we start for Annapolis to go on some expedition but we know not where." He adds a postscript: "I forgot to tell you about the n____rs that came down with us out Virginia. There were hundreds of them ran away from their masters and came down  with the soldiers, some of them marching boldly in the ranks carry the soldiers' knapsacks and guns and others skulking in the woods by day and coming into camp at night." 

The second letter is from the forts at Yorktown, 4pp, May 7th, 1862. "...on double quick on through Yorktown our men were over onto their forts long before sunrise and run up the old stars and stripes where their old secesh rag had been floating so defiantly for a year or more past there was a great time in camp that morning. Our bands which have been silent ever since wee camp so near the enemy came out playing Dixieland, the Star Spangled Banner and Hail Columbia amidst the loud hurrahs of the boys... O suppose you ahve heard of the traps that they have set for our men. I had not been inside of the fort above a half an hour before one man traveling around the same place that I had been looking at their big guns that they had left, he stepped on a torpedo buried in the ground. It exploded and blew his leg clear out of the fort. The doctor was soon on hand but too late to save him. He died from the loss of blood. They have found them buried in the ground all around here. A number of men and horses have been killed with them we are very cautious how we travel about here now. The make the secesh prisoners go and dig them up which is not a very agreeable job as the slightest touch explodes them. So look out for the news in the papers you will hear from us down around West Point. Perhaps also you will hear that we have trapped about fifty or a hundred thousand of the rebs for as the boys sing quite often in camp, 'McClellan is a marching on!'" 

The third letter,4pp, 8 x 12.5 in., "In Camp at Turkey Bend Va. on the Banks of the James river July the 8th." "I suppose you have heard that the grand army of the Potomac has had to skedaddle as we call it when the secesh had to run. It has now been our turn to run. A few days ago our Generals came to the conclusion white within five miles of Richmond that the secesh was too much for us. We could see by getting up into the tree tops and into balloons that they greatly outnumbered us.... We found that we had got into a tight place and so we thought we had better get out of it as best we could... We was three days retreating and fighting and some of the hardest fighting we have had yet....Well, here we are, the grand army of the Potomac, drove by the secesh and nearly one half of our men killed and almost the rest of them sick. The warm weather takes right hold of the boys and there are thousands of them sick and in the Hospitals and they cannot get their discharge so they must get well or die and we must get more men from the north to fill their places or we will get the worst of it yet....We thought once that we should get home some time this summer but it looks as if we should have to stay out here another winter, what few of us happen to live." These divisions ended up with as many or more losses as any other division.

Estimate: $500 - $700
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