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West, Lewis H. (b. 1829) to Mary West

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03836.37 Author/Creator: West, Lewis H. (b. 1829) Place Written: Aboard USS "Alabama" at St. Andrews Sound, Georgia Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 26 August 1862 Pagination: 23 p. : docket ; 20.2 x 12.6 cm.

Summary of Content: Written by Lewis to his sister Mary. Continues the letter on 30 August and 5 September. Disparages where he is stationed, saying it is desolate and lacks civilized life. Says he has been made an executive officer again, due to personnel changes on the ship. Says he is at St. Andrews Sound because the "Alabama" has been under steam for over a year and cannot be trusted to make the trip north to be overhauled. Therefore they are waiting in Georgia for the machinery to come to them. Says the repairs are needed as dry rot is everywhere. At St. Simons three weeks before he "had the pleasure of a tramp on shore which was sufficient to satisfy me in that line for sometime to come." Afterward, he was ordered to march with the marines and 40 members of the "Alabama" crew to stop a group of Confederate raiders who were attempting to recapture local "darkies." After running into another group of U.S. Marines and resting for the night, they decided to search the woods for several miles around the latest attack on the former slaves. Says they disturbed "sundry rattlesnakes and alligators" in the process. They ended up finding a dead contraband and another one wounded in the jaw. They took the wounded man to a nearby plantation and returned to the ship. Says the only trophies of the expedition were two cats they picked up to kill rats on their ship. Says "If the women of the North would only show one half the pluck that Southern women do, in taunting and browbeating the men to fight, we could keep our regiments full without too much trouble." Says he supports the draft. Says he was involved with a force that intervened at the Cumberland Island plantation of a Mr. Stanford, whose slaves had mutinied and threatened his life. After arriving it turns out 10 of Stanford's slaves ran away 5 months ago and worked in the government's employ. After tiring of the work they returned "full of ideas of liberty, which they proceeded to carry out by killing his cattle and hogs and carrying them to Fernandina to sell to the army on their own account." Believing the story, he captured 10 of the culprits and took them to his ship. He was eventually forced to let them go. Chastises her for not writing about the news of the birth of her baby.


Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Civil WarMilitary HistoryNavyUnion ForcesUnion Soldier's LetterSoldier's LetterConfederate States of AmericaBlockadeChildren and FamilyMaritimeMarinesContrabandsSlaveryAfrican American HistoryGuerrilla WarfareRunaway SlaveFugitive Slave ActGeography and Natural HistoryWildlifeDeathInjury or WoundPetsWomen's HistoryConscriptionSlave RebellionAgriculture and Animal HusbandryMilitary ProvisionsDiet and nutritionCommerce

Sub Era: The American Civil War

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