November 14, 2007

A "Black Confederate" Rarity

The debate over whether or not blacks served as "soldiers" in the Confederate army is one that generates considerable heat and controversy. Let me say that I have not done enough research into the matter to form an educated opinion. Nevertheless, I was quite surprised when I learned of a letter from a "black Confederate" that Christie's of New York will auction off on December 3.

According to their description, the item is described as follows: Letter signed twice ("Aabram"), presumably dictated to and signed by a scribe, to his unidentified master, Petersburg, Virginia, 18 February 1865. 2 pages, 4to, creased.

A true rarity: a letter from a black soldier in the Confederate Army describing his experiences to his master. "...I am well and doing well. I am driving a wagon in a Georgia battalion of Artillery and have been principally engaged during the winter in hauling wood. I am very well satisfied--have a good and Comfortable house to stay in. I get rations just as the soldiers and draw the same they do. Give all at home my best love and tell them I am very anxious to hear from there. Tell them I dream about them frequently. I dream of Sarah oftener than any other. Offer my kindest wishes & feelings to Mistress and accept the same for yourself. Please write to me and give me all the news at home. Let me know if Massa John has been home since I left. I desire my Mother to receive the money from my corn crop. Again let me offer my best love to all. Am hoping to hear from you soon. I remain your Obt. Servant..." He sends his respects to "all his fellow servants" and closes by leaving his address: care of "Maj. John Lane, Sumter Arty. Battn. 3rd Corps."

Very interesting, indeed. Christies estimates the item at $4000 - $6000.

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