Dear Sister (Rogers, Nov. 20 1862, #1)

In this early Civil War letter, Warner native Joseph S. Rogers stares across the waters at a looming battle…

NEXT: “I would kill the pig as soon as it got cold enough…” (PART 2 of 2) >>

The text of this letter comes from the fascinating collection, The Effects of War: Letters of Joseph S. Rogers by the Warner Historical Society in collaboration with Stanley Warren.  The book presents 48 of Rogers’ letters; this is letter #5.

Rogers enlisted in the 11th NH, and was almost immediately transferred to the 2nd US Artillery because of his valuable leather-working skills.

Although the 2nd US Artillery was apparently stationed on the Army’s right, “nearly opposite Fredericksburg“, I could not resist placing Rogers on the (ruined) main railroad bridge into town, which scene Matthew Brady captured in his striking photograph, “Fredericksburg from the river. Showing Confederate troops and bridge. (taken at a distance of one mile.)”:

Brady’s photo depicts several confederate soldiers occupying the ruined Fredericksburg side of the bride.  To help clarify the Roger’s situation, the confederate stick figures in my comic started waving a confederate flag.  (This is the iconic battle flag of the Army of Northern Virginia.)

Here’s a sketch of a similar scene; apparently before hostilities commenced, soldiers would hail each other, across the lines, from this bridge.

Final engravings of that sketch appeared in an issue of Harper’s Weekly.

Here’s a side-view of the (missing) span of the bridge, taken by Timothy O’Sullivan:

That’s probably a lot more like what Rogers would’ve been looking at (although still from the wrong side).

Rogers actually spends a large portion of his letters reviewing prices and availability of various goods & services in his army experience.  I have taken the liberty here of omitting a full page (9 panels) of elaboration anent the enlisted men’s lack of tobacco… “You ought to hear them beg for tobacco.  It seems to be the most they want, but there is hardly any to be got…” &c. &c.  Maybe I’ll draw that page for the print mini-comic version of this comic…

15 November 1862
20 November 1862

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