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Lot 79: Mortimer D. Leggett Writes Important Letter from Shiloh

Rare Autograph, Manuscripts & Book & Aviation Auction

by One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions, LLC

27 October 2016

Miami, FL, USA

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Description: Mortimer D. Leggett Writes Important Letter from Shilo

)Mortimer Dormer Leggett (April 19, 1821 – January 6, 1896) Professor, and major general of the Union Army during the American Civil War. autograph letter signed, Field of Shiloh, Tennessee, 30 April 1862. Written just weeks after the famous battle of Shiloh in which he commanded his regiment, Leggett writes a about the future movements in part”we have got orders to move at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning to our great, and I hope last struggle in this wicked war. The order requires us to take six day's provisions and 200 rounds of ammunition, this means work & blood. How many of our noble army will be left to eat their six days rations, God only knows. In the great movement to begin tomorrow, Gen. Buel's Army of 60,000 will compose the center, Gen. Grant's of 40,000 the right-wing, and Gen. Ropes of 30,000 the left wing. I tell you, my dear friends, the marching of such an immense number of men in the face of an equally large number for the purpose of blood-shed & slaughter is not in harmony with a fiber of my nature, I can but think of the ten thousand loving wives and fifty thousand dependent children who would be left widowed & fatherless by a clash of but few hours of such contending hosts. Gracious Heaven what awful crime must be set to the charge of this heartless & devilish rebellion! …..Thank God that my home has long been with a people that love free institutions.”

Field Of Shilo, Tenn, 30 April,/62
My Good Friends Jennie & Ella

I have just been writing to my dear yf, and having somewhat in the writing fever upon me just now, I think to write you a little wee letter would do no harm, but after feeling my pulse & looking at my tongue I doubted whether the fever was high enough to warrant the writing of two letters, so I must condense both into one. I meant to write a full sheet fool-cap to you, & describe several peculiarities of camp life that I know would interest you both, but I am obliged to forego, as since commencing this letter, we have got orders to move at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning to our great, and I hope last struggle in this wicked war. The order requires us to take six day's provisions and 200 rounds of ammunition, this means work & blood. How many of our noble army will be left to eat their six days rations, God only knows. In the great movement to begin tomorrow, Gen. Buel's Army of 60,000 will compose the center, Gen. Grant's of 40,000 the right-wing, and Gen. Ropes of 30,000 the left wing. I tell you, my dear friends, the marching of such an immense number of men in the face of an equally large number for the purpose of blood-shed & slaughter is not in harmony with a fiber of my nature, I can but think of the ten thousand loving wives and fifty thousand dependent children who would be left widowed & fatherless by a clash of but few hours of such contending hosts. Gracious Heaven what awful crime must be set to the charge of this heartless & devilish rebellion! Thank God that my home has long been with a people that love free institutions.
An army starting out for combat is really, to me, a sad, Sickening sight, yes it is always attended with great hilarity, loud & boisterous cheering and every indication of delight. Just, for a moment, look at a single regiment. In front are the col. & his adjutant, then comes the long string of officers & men, the lieut. col., riding along the line as occasion may require, the major, chaplain & two surgeons all abreast in the rear of the column, the


surgeons with each a knapsack of lints, bandages, &c., and behind them 12 men with five litters to pick up & carry off their wounded and dying comrades. Then to think that within few hours, scores will probably fall, who are now splitting their throats with wild cheers, is not all this a singular scene for hilarity? One would think it enough to make a coward of any man, but more except those who "have been these," know or can know the feelings that controls one's being at such a time. I said it was a sad sight, so it is, yet when I witness the bold, firm step of my men, when I think of the motive impelling their movements, the dangers and sacrifices they have nerved themselves to face, my heart leaps with delight, though my eyes may be filled with tears of sadness. I frequently find it difficult to refrain from joining in the wild scream of my men. What must be the lasting permanent effect of such scenes & conflicts upon the hearts ofthose who survive to reach their homes? Not necessarily hardening. I believe the man who joins the army from principles of patriotism, of pure sense of duty, will go home a better man, a man of more heart, and better fitted for usefulness in this world. But those who join the army from a reckless love of war, or for the paltry love of money, or from motives of wicked ambition, must be thoroughly im(?)ted by the influences of strife and carnage everywhere surrounding them here.

But I must stop writing. I have so many duties to attend to before the start of the conflict tomorrow. I am excessively fatigued, having just returned today from a fatiguing march of two days & two nights in the rain & mud, and withal too sick to be out of bed, were I at home.
May heaven bless you both, keep you safely in the paths of usefulness & duty, & make you cheerful & happy. Nothing like cheerfulness to light one's way through this world, and nothing like it to throw light upon the paths of others.
From your Friend,
M.D. Leggett
p.s. Now don't answer with a company letter, but each of you write a long full one, and for fear I may not get it, just write another a few days after & keep doing so.
8" x 12"

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