1863 Letter - Union Staff Officer's Banter with 1st Alabama Cavalry Private Between the Lines

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1863 Letter - Union Staff Officer's Banter with 1st Alabama Cavalry Private Between the Lines


Item No. SQ5356429

Offered here is a fascinating 3-page 1863 Civil War soldier letter written and signed by Lieutenant Wallace McGrath, originally of the 15th Ohio, but then serving as an aide-de-camp on the staff of Brigadier General August Willich’s 1st Brigade staff, 2nd Division, 20th Army Corps, Army of the Cumberland. In the letter, McGrath described a March 1863 advance from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in which Union pickets got the better of the Confederates. Later, McGrath described his encounter between the lines with a member of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, with whom he exchanged some interesting banter. The letter reads:

Head Qrs 1st Brigade
March 15th 1863

Brother George

I rec’d your long looked for letter only three days ago and although it was a long time coming, I was very glad indeed to get it because I have not hear from you for so long.

Now George, I think you might write a little more punctual, & I think you would if you only knew how much good it does me or any other Soldier to receive a letter from home. Of course you had a good excuse this last time, Wade being so brisk.

I am very well now and indeed I don’t believe I am ever going to get sick, so I can get a leave of absence for a short time.

On the 8th of this month, our Brigade was ordered to go to a place called Middleton, which is within the lines of the enemy. We started early in the morning, and after marching about five miles, we fell in with the Pickets of the enemy and drove them before us for about five miles untill we came up to Middleton, where we had quite a fight with them, resulting in them being driven away in disorder. Our loss was only three slightly wounded. While we know of killing 8 rebels and wounding some 15 of them.

Yesterday our Brigade was on Picket duty, and being out on the lines I went out to the Rebel lines with a Flag of truce, which was going out from our lines at that time, taking out some Women & children & some Rebel Surgeons. I had quite a talk with them. I met a private of the 1st Alabama Cavalry who used to work in the city Fact Office in 1851. His name is “White.” He said that when he met me in a fight he would take good aim at me and be sure & kill me dead without wounding me. I told him he was damned accomodating.

Don’t forget to send that Picture in your next letter.

Julia has not written me yet. What is the matter.

My Birthday was on the 11th of this month and now I am 19 years old & in my 20th year. But I don’t feel as old as my years. Tell me I am.

Now George write soon to
Your Friend
Wallace McGrath

Lieut W. McGrath A.D.C.
Hd Qrs 1st Brigade
2nd Division
20th Army Corps
Dept of the Cumberland
Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Included is the original cover addressed to his friend George D. Freeman in Columbus, Ohio.

The letter was written on three pages of a 7 3/4” x 9 3/4” stationery sheet with the original “Inspector General’s Department, 14th Corps” heading struck out to suit the author’s needs. It is in excellent condition as shown. Little to no toning. Very light wear to edges and corners. Creases where originally folded.

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