27th MA soldier writes to sister on Christmas Day 1862 from New Bern, North Carolina

Dec 25, 1862
New Bern, North Carolina,

SERGT Edward B. Dickinson,
Company “D,” Massachusetts 27th Infantry Regiment,
[to his sister, Miss Sarah T. Dickinson, a school teacher, at Granby and North Amherst MA]

“I wonder if this Christmas day is as beautiful in Mass. as it is here. The weather is so warm, that fires and overcoats are not needed. The day is given to us for a holiday, and we can go where we choose without a pass, which to a soldier is quite a privilege … I presume you have … heard by the [news]papers that GEN [John G.] Foster has been with another expedition towards the interior and that this time he met with better success than before. He captured Kinston [NC] and went to within three miles of Goldsboro [NC]. They succeeded in tearing up several miles of railroad track, and burning three R.R. bridges. At Kinston our troops took five hundred prisoners. Our loss at that place was about one hundred & fifty killed & wounded, and our whole lost, when the expedition returned was five hundred killed & wounded. The 27th suffered but little, having only two killed. One man in the Westfield Company had his head shot off by a cannon ball. I started with the expedition, but after marching several miles, I found that I had overestimated my strength. I got so completely exhausted that I could go no further. I passed the night at a house nearby and the next day came back to the city. It was a great disappointment to me, for I was very anxious to go the next time. I trust there will be nothing to prevent me from going. There was seven in our company, besides myself, who were obliged to return and in the whole force I should judge there was nearly two hundred that gave out and come back. Ranson went with the expedition and as he had nothing to carry got along very easily. His health is good now and he is doing nicely. Harry Sear’s health is quite good, and in most respects he is about the same kind of person that he used to be at home. No better and not much worse. I am very sorry to hear such a bad report of Richard Loomis and do not yet believe it. When he was in New Bern, I never saw or heard anything of out of the way. Richard has seen hard times since he was in the service. His regiment has suffered more than most any other from Mass. The news from our Army in Virginia and the West is most dreadful; is it not. It would seem as if the fortunes of war had almost entirely forsaken us, it begins to look as if the South would certainly achieve their independence. I regret that the noble [Union GEN Ambrose] Burnside has met with a defense, but for it I think he is not responsible, as he acted under positive orders from Washington [see explanation below]. I think this rebellion might have been crushed long ago, but the fact is there are a great many high in power who do not care how long it lasts, so that [they] can make money by it. Not long since, a certain officer high in rank, offered this toast, ‘Here’s to a long war, and speedy promotion.’ Whilst such a spirit actuates our leaders, can we expect success? …

[signed] Edward.”

60d8_3

Source: eBay, November 2008

One comment

  1. While I applaud your efforts to conserve Civil War history, I would appreciate it if you did not pull images of letters off of eBay and display them on your website. I own this particular letter (along with several others printed) and they are my personal property. They were printed by the Civil War Gazette while I was bidding on it and, in my opinion, thiis does not promote ethical journalistic practices.

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