Christmas Eve 1862 Letter by Lieutenant Samuel D. Hays, 110th Pennsylvania - "McClellan is the only man in whom they have implicit confidence and with him for a leader they would conquer or die.”

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Christmas Eve 1862 Letter by Lieutenant Samuel D. Hays, 110th Pennsylvania - "McClellan is the only man in whom they have implicit confidence and with him for a leader they would conquer or die.”

350.00

Item No. 1222192

A Christmas Eve 1862 letter to home written by Lieutenant Samuel D. Hays, Regimental Quartermaster for the 110th Pennsylvania Volunteers. Writing from the winter camp at Falmouth in the wake of the defeat at Fredericksburg, Hays took stock of the previous year. “How many this time last year were buoyant with life and high expectation and now done with earth and all its troubles,” he wrote. “What desolation and ruin has this unholy and unnatural war brought upon our once happy and prosperous land in that time. Thousands of precious lives sacrificed, fair cities that were teeming with life and prosperity ruined and forsaken….” Noting the army’s reverses, Hays did not lose faith in a northern victory. “We are just beginning to know our strength and the mighty resources of which we are possessed,” he wrote, “and when these are brought properly to bear, treason and traitors must assuredly succumb.” General Burnside had lost the confidence of the army, he argued, writing that General McClellan “is the only man in whom they have implicit confidence and with him for a leader they would conquer or die.”

The letter was written on four pages of a stationery sheet measuring about 4 1/2” x 7 1/2”. It is decorated with a narrow line of red color along the top edge of the first page, and one of blue along the right margin. It is in very good condition with light foxing and toning. Creased where originally folded.

The full transcript follows:

Camp near Falmouth Va
Dec 24th 1862

My Dear Mother
It is now about 9 o’clock at night and as I was sitting in my tent and all quiet I was thinking over the past year and of where I was this time last year. I was then at home with no idea of being where I am now. What great changes will take place in a country and its people in the short span of twelve months. How many this time last year were buoyant with life and high expectation and now done with earth and all its troubles. What desolation and ruin has this unholy and unnatural war brought upon our once happy and prosperous land in that time. Thousands of precious lives sacrificed, fair cities that were teeming with life and prosperity ruined and forsaken, and notwithstanding all this the day is still dark and lowering with the prospect of a speedy settlement far in the future. Although we have large and well appointed army in the field, we have met with reverses, yet we are not discouraged, for with all the boasted success of the enemy they have never fought one battle on free soil. We have kept them at bay and defeated them on many a field. And I have not the least doubt of the final triumph of the North. We are just beginning to know our strength and the mighty resources of which we are possessed, and when these are brought properly to bear, treason and traitors must assuredly succumb. Our men do not appear to be the least discouraged by the late reverse at Fredericksburg Va, but their faith in Genl Burnside is gone. Little Mac is the only man in whom they have implicit confidence and with him for a leader they would conquer or die. I mentioned in my letter to Mary which was written after we returned to this camp that we lost a great many men, but forgot to state the fact that there was not one of our Battalion killed or wounded, although they were close to the enemy’s Batteries. Well enough of this sad business. I will come to something more pleasant. Tomorrow Dear Mother is Merry Christmas and a pleasant and happy day I hope you will have and what nice cakes and other good things you and Mary will provide. I well remember the excellent dinners you always got up. How I wish I was there to rejoice with you and what if Dear Lizzie is with you how glad you will be. This was about the time she was to be at home. This day the soldiers are all talking of the good dinners they would have were they at home and of how they will spend it, but you must not conclude from the spirit of this that I am tired of the service, for with all we have went through I would not be willing to accept my discharge if it was offered now. I have not been able to visit David since the Battle, but will try and do so soon. I have not received the package that Mary stated Father had sent me by Capt. McFarlane. Perhaps it was mislayed. I must bring my letter to a close for this time. I am expecting a letter from you and a large one too. Do you ever hear from Uncle James? This will not reach in you time for Christmas. I should have written some but was expecting a letter from home. Well I must bid you farewell for this time.
Your affectionate son S. D. Hays

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