Excellent lot of 21 letters and a tintype photo of William E. Barton of the 8th Michigan Infantry, Co. H, who was fatally wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run in 1862. In his one year service during the War, William participated in a slew of battles and skirmishes, documented in this letter archive, with descriptions of the Battles of Secessionville, and Port Royal Ferry, several skirmishes, as well as the death of his brother James Barton, who served in the same company. On 1 December 1861, Barton writes of the taking of Tybee Island and the gruesome discovery in likely the lighthouse on the island, Our Navy made an atact a fort called Philasci [Pulaski] on the twenty 7 & 8.
We took the fort after 2 days struggle. We lost our gunboat that was sunk and badly maimed. The killed and wounded could not be numbered on either side.
Since we took this fort they found a pit in the ground 25 dead bodies in that the rebels had buried they had not got time to get them away. They are about making an atact on a large place called Savannah. It is called the largest and strongest fort that is known in the southern army. The news came a few days ago that there was 3 thousand rebels that had laid down their arms and gave themselves up as prisoners of war and would never take up arms against the north again. We are to wok on the fort and most of the time now we are building a large fort here.There is a great many sick in this regiment we loose from one to two men a day and have for some time the sea breeze does not agree with a great many. But it agrees me and James first rateWilliam E.
Barton segues into the Battle of Port Royal Ferry in a letter on 6 January 1862, where the regiment lost 8 in killed and wounded: we had a battle on Coosaw River. We landed we had about four thousand men under the fire of one of the gunboats. The rebels was thrown back 4 times one member [of] our regiment had orders to march up before the enemy. The enemy was in the woods. We drove them from the river shore and we landed the Michigan 8th, the 50 Pennsylvania, 79 New York and the hundred Pennsylvania the New York 26th New Hampshire.
There was no other regiment engaged in the fight but the Michigan 8 we took a fort and 1 eighteen formed? Our regiment marched up before the rebels when they opened fire on us we bagan to fire on them the fight lasted nearly two hours and the rebels retreated about two miles back into the woods. The gunboats threw shells into the woods and killed a great many.We could not tell how many we killed out of our regiment we lost only one man and 6 wounded but most fatal our Major Amasa B. Watson was wounded in the fight a negro that came from the main land and said that we killed nearly 5 hundred rebels. The rebels came in the night with the flag of truce and wanted 10 hours to carry off their dead.
Our General gave them one hour. They carried off the dead by cartloads we feel well since the battle that we come off as we did and hope to have another. The bullets whistled by our ears like hailstones in a hailstorm. Our regiment has the praise for their braveness and coolness in the hour of battle. They fought like men I had no more fears than nothing in the world.I was not half as scared as I was the first time I ever shot at the rebels. General Butler took Savanah the same day that we atacted them here we did not [do it] to hold it we only done it to draw their attention from Savanah there was a general atact all over the army.
The rebels retreated back 6 mileswe expect another battle before long. General Butler is in the rearthey will be cornered before longour captain has resignedWilliam E. Barton"; letter is additionally signed by Barton's brother, "James H. In a letter on 16 January, he continues with a description of the Battle of Port Royal Ferry, we are in camp on Port Royal Islandnew years we made an atact on mayne land our regiment is all the regiment that was engaged in the fight we lost 2 men and six wounded the rebels lost could not be numbered. As near as we can find out about 500 the rebels has retreated back about 4 miles from the river camp I wrote to you but a few days agoWilliam E.
Barton / Directt your letters to port royal hilton head south carolina Co H 8th regiment michigan infantry" In April 1862, Barton writes several letters about the Battle of Fort Pulaski, as well as writing about the death of his brother James Barton: "I'm aliveabout James being killed. Well I saw him when he fell upon the battlefield he has fallen in good cause.
He fought brave he faced the enemy like a man. A nobler heart never beat beneath any man either on the battlefield or anywhere elseThe wounded boys is getting along very well what is alive.
There is some died since I wrote before" He continues in another letter on 14 April 1862, "I must tell you about the battle that we have had here lately. Well we have had a very hard time. Our troops made an atact on Fort Pulaski. We have been to work a great while to get things fixed to take this fort. We have 6 batteries the whole 26 pieces.
Our men had all the work to do in the night on account of the rebels shelling them. Our regiment lays on Tybee Island about a half a mile from the fort there is to holes through the Fort large enough to drive a load of hay in. They got their guns ranged so they can put a shell in every time our regiment lays in the beach to nights and one daywe always march in the night. We will lay around all day and when it becomes dark we are ready to marchWilliam E. Barton" And writing again the next day in a separate letter, "we left Beaufort on the 11 and landed the 12 and that morning the batteries cominssed at firing on the fort as soon as it was day light and keptsteady roaring all that day and the next day until three in the afternoon when the rebels hoisted a flag of truce and our men started firing and the general and a few more went over to the fort and he came back and said they had surrendered.And they took one regiment of our men and put them on the fort to guard the prisoners we took three hundred and fifty prisoners. It was an awful sight to look at the fort it was a large fort made of brick laid in sement the walls are 15 feet throughout and our men fired until there was to holes through one side of the fort and in one hour more they would have broke through into the magazine and blown it up it is said to be as strong a fort as there is in seechdomOne regiment lay of a distance off about the distance of to miles and a half when they fired from the fort the shells passed directly over our heads some would burst and drop all around usOur men had 4 batteries there is one about three quarters of a mile from the fortWe never would took the fort if it had not been for the batteries they did it all in the nightWilliam E Barton" On 21 June 1862 from James Island, Barton describes the Battle of Secessionville, where the 8th Michigan lost over 175 in killed, wounded and missing: "I will tell you about the fight that we had last Monday morning at daylight. General [Henry] Benham now has command of all the troops that we have on this island.
We was ordered to storm a fort called fort Ripley. Preparations was made the time set. When the atact was made Monday morning as soon as day break our regiment was formed at to oclock in the morningour company & Co. G [or C] was the skirmishers and as we came in to where the rebels had their pickets they fired many & wounded three of them slightlywe surrounded them and took them prisonersnear enough to see the rebels to look them in the face before they fired at us soon they opened on us with their pieces of artilleryand one regiment of infantrysearched the fort and mounted the brestworksthe balls was flyingI never saw such a sight before in all my days I never want to see the same again. Our regiment was all cut to pieces we did not get help soon enough to take the fort I was able to retreat the fort cant be taken by a charge it has got to be shelled and our men is making preparations for an atact.
I think they will be ready to open on them about next Monday morning. There was 24 killed wounded and missing from our company & out of the regiment 200 & 10 killed wounded and missing.
93 of that number is missing our loss in all is 600 and 74Our major has gone home he started day before yesterday. The lieut colonel Frank Graves is? , our officers is all most all them killed. There is only three captains left it seems so lonesome.
The wounded has gone to Hilton Head to the hospital. [He then lists those wounded in the battle]Benjamin A. Calhoun I have not seenthe boys in his company said he was killed he was shot dead on the fieldWell I think our regiment stands a very good chance to be discharged yet now it is good for nothing if the officers are all gone.
The men are mostly killed so the Colonel is left all to himself. He could get the regiment home if he shall tryWilliam E. He writes again about the Battle of Secessionville on 1 July 1862, we are about leaving this island we are getting off as fast as possible we shall leave by ten at night. The rebels is to strongly fortified to get on this island they have fortified canons and rifle pits nearly to miles long. This is the place that the rebels took Fort Sumter from with these batteries.
They have had all the chance in the world to prepare for a very heavy atact. I think we shall go back to beaufort then come up in the seas of CharlestonThe enemy took three thousand of our men prisoners by sending up their left wing that is very fast. We had a heavy battle here on this island between our regiment and the 79 New york the 28 Massachusetts 46 New York 7 ConnecticutWe charged on a fort called fort ripley well supportedinfantry marched up double quick did not see the rebel pickets they was hid in the thick bushes.
As we approached the road that went through a gate the picket fired on usone shot wounded three of our regiment seriously and one slightly one has since died by his wound. He was shot through the rite leg his leg was only left. The mortification set in & he had to have it taken off & bled to death. His name was William Wilson Co.
He was a resident of Fair Plains. James was acquainted with himof our regiment we had 200 10 killed wounded & missing. There was only two killed out of our company. We killed a great many of theirs we had soldiers they fight well.We are evacuating this island we are getting everything off as fast as possible. I don't know how they are going to manage it. I think we are to come upon the rear of Charleston The regiment was involved in a number of skirmishes during May-June 1862, which Barton reports on. Dated 31 May, he writes, I must tell you about the long march we had the day before yesterday.
We had brigade drill the afternoon that we started. We started from BeaufortWe marched that night all the next day till nearly noon. We started with one regiment the 50 Pennus skirmishers saw enemy about three or four in numberfired on them. The enemy was stationed all along the ditch on both sides of the road and as fast as one man would come on site they would fire at us.
That after a short time the 79 [New York] one company of them came up on the left and fired on them they did stand long then. They broke & ran for the woods. As soon as they began to retreat our men came up on double quick. Laid down the bridge then crossed the infantry thensent them after the enemy by that time they had got?The sweat fairly ran off the ends of my fingers. The 50th Pennsylvaniahad 2 killed 7 wounded. There was a captain killed and dead on the spot shot through the head.
The wounded are getting along well. They are not mortally wounded. We took our rebel prisoner that was wounded in the shoulder. He said they had five hundred had sent to Charleston for reinforcementThe sun was so extremely hot that our men was about overcame. They did not feel like fighting when we got there.
Long about noon we started back to the ferry that was about 16 miles. We had to march back that night all the time we marched as fast as we could under the circumstanceswe suffered for water very much.The water is very poor and not plenty. We marched to nights and one day. One evening drove their pickets in all the way from the ferry. We took two prisoners one wounded and one that was not wounded a cavalry man that rode rite up to our ranks thinking that they was his own men. He saw his mistake then turned to go back.
One of our cavalry saw that he was not among his own crew started his horse off on the dead run coming up to hill drew his revolverthe fellow stopped but was very much against his will he saw he was fast so he made no attempt to escape. He was armed with a good saber and a good revolver and carbineThe morning that we crossed back we had not been back more than one hour before the enemy came down with a force of about 50 thousand infantry with about five pieces of artillery and began to shell our men across the river.Their shells fell short" He adds a paragraph at the end of the letter about the burial of his brother James, who died the previous month, "he was buried in his close in a coffin he was buried in a very pleasant placeThe ten that was killed is buried side by sideWilliam E. On 5 June 1862, Barton describes another skirmish, Our hole brigade left Beauford the 1 of this month for Charleston. We are now within 6 miles of the city. We are on an island [James Island].
There is rebels on the island we don't know how many there is but we suspect there is somewhere about six or seven thousand of infantry the same cavalry. We have now about five thousand infantry 8 companies of cavalry and more landing all the time. We shall have nearly ten thousand in allI must tell you about the skirmish we had last night with the enemy. We was ordered out about four in the afternoon. We expected a hard fight.
Our regiment went outas skirmishers. They had not went far before the rebel pickets begun to fire on them the rebels fixed at a distance of a half a mile. But did not damage only one man slightly wounded in the arm. The enemy retreated to camp. We did not have any fight that night but expect to have a fight in the morning.
We was out till ten oclock at night it rained all the timeI was out on picket last night and was up all nightThe pickets began to fire about morning the rebels came down to see what they could see. Our pickets are posted about a mile and a half from our camp so if there is any alarm given we could turn on in a hurry. The 46 New York regiment had a little skirmish with them.Our men lost 3 killed and 6 wounded. The reels are shelling us all afternoon but don't come within half a mile of us.
We have a plenty of gunboats laying in the channel so that when they don't behave all right we will throw a shell over to them to make them sober down. When the large 13 inch shell strikes within 40 rods it will make them hunt their holes. The 46 New York took from rebel prisoners that makes them feel down to the heel. They took 15 privates and one lieutenantColonel Fenton has been promoted to Brigadere General.
Our regiment is in the 1st brigade. The 7 Connecticut the 28 Massachusetts three regiments in this brigadeThings look very dark our men is going to build batteries on this island to drive the rebels from their works. They are very strongly fortifiedA few more lines this morningWell the picket was firing all night by spells.
There was two men wounded. The rebels through a large shell over at us this morning but did not come any where near as they can't get the range of our camp or they haven't yet any guns that can reach usThere has been to rebel vessels?Of our blockade and started to run into Charleston harbor but our gunboats took them out. They were loaded with arms and ammunition they have took 7 in the same waythere was 5 more to come in they are all from EnglandWilliam E.
And on 6 June, he continues in a different letter, We are now 6 miles from Charleston city. We landed 5000 troops yesterday and had a fight with the enemy. One regiment was not in the fight the 71 the 28 Mass and the 21 Mass the Penn and the 100 regt. The rebels got 16 privates and one captain from the 71. The number of killed and wounded is 16 in all.
We are in sight of Fort Sumter. That island is a large island there is a very large force of enemy on this islandWe expect reinforcements of 15 thousand to take Sumter and fort mantle and fort JohnsonWe can drive them off the island or we will take them prisonersOur men has had several brushes with them. Our men took three prisoners and they got a rebel paper that said they could not save Charleston or SavannahWe had a little skirmish day before yesterday we took one piece of cannon from themand drove them from their works. We now have about four thousand men and more landingWe expect to drive them off from the islandWe have gunboats called the Monitor she has iron sides. A cannon ball will not have any affect she is ready for action she can run through any spot or place if she draws but 6 feet of waterFrom Mr.
William E Barton" On 12 June 1862 Barton writes of a skirmish on 10 June, leading up to the Battle of Secessionville, "The rebels made an atact on our picketsthe pickets kept the enemy backour men got reinforcements we got three regiments of infantry and 7 pieces of artillery. There was about three thousand of the enemy and men held their positions.
They didn't give back an inch but gained the artillery. After firing very rapidly until the rebels began to retreat with great confusion then our men cut them down like hail. The fight lasted about 2 hours when the enemy retreated and left the field. By this time it began to grow dark. They did not go to see any they had killed until the next morning.I saw a man that helped gather the dead and wounded he said they buried 76 in the four noon. They did not have time to get them all thenbeside the captain that was woundedthe night of the fight8 wounded we hear the firing very plainWilliam E. In likely his last letter, though undated except for the year 1862, Barton writes from Culpepper, Virginia of a skirmish likely leading up to the Second Battle of Bull Run, where Barton was fatally wounded, there was a fight a week ago yesterdaythe rebels loss was greater than ours. The enemy was driven about three miles the fight lasted until dark. By the next day Jackson had fallen back about 6 milesif the rebels stand in a fight at Richmond it will be a heavy oneDirect toCo H 8th reg Michigan Infantry William E. Barton Lot includes many more letters documenting the fighting around the 8th Michigan, who Barton claims was frequently called out for its discipline and bravery. It's unlikely that he's exaggerating, as the regiment lost nearly half of its men by the end of the war. He writes that his brother "James and I had our likeness taken and sent it home a few days ago", which is likely the same tintype included in this lot. Archive includes three interesting letters written from William's father to him during the war, as well as a trove of 19th century documents (several deeds, letters and business documents) and dozens of photos of the Barton family, originating from Grand Rapids, Michigan. An exceptional archive in very good condition, with near complete transcription of Civil War letters, many of which are written on patriotic stationery.
The item "21 8th Michigan Infantry Civil War KIA Soldier Letters" is in sale since Thursday, January 04, 2018. This item is in the category "Collectibles\Militaria\Civil War (1861-65)\Original Period Items\Correspondence, Mail".
The seller is "n8sautographs" and is located in Los Angeles, California. This item can be shipped worldwide.