1863: A. R. Nash to his Aunt

The signature on this letter looks like “A. R. Nash” to me but I cannot find any Union soldier by that name in military records. If one could find the regiment known to have garrisoned Fort Alexander in March 1863, it might be possible to identify him from the roster. The letter is not particularly newsworthy but it is written on beautiful patriotic stationery which was very unusual two years into the war.

My hunch is this is a relatively new recruit mustered into one of the heavy artillery regiments. He appears to be a strong pro-Administration volunteer but also a racist (which would describe most Union soldiers at the time).

Transcription

Colorized Engraving of Washington City on the Envelope

Fort Alexander 1
March 7, 1863

Dear Aunt,

I received a letter from you last night and will try and give it an answer, I am enjoying the best of health. Never was so rugged in my life as I am now. As soon as I get a chance, I will have my picture taken (or else get the Colonel’s darkey to sit in my place) and send it to you. also I shall accept your invitation to make you a visit when I get home. I want you to have the girls the girls according to promise. I expect to help free all of the niggers and come home in time to spend Christmas with you. Won’t that be jolly? I don’t know but what I shall bring home one with me. If I do, I shall bring him when I come to see you.

But enough of this and to the honor of the soldiers, be it said that they never felt as if the war was as near to closing as at present. A great many of the nine-months men are reenlisting for three years and the business of recruiting at home (if I may judge by the number that has enlisted for our company thirty-seven) is going on briskly, But I do want to see a draft to hail out here some of the same sentiment as yourself. If it is not secesh, it is so near that if they (rebels) get a victory, you are glad. Then the ones who have done so little to carry this war on and are doing so much to discourage it will have to take their part.

I have not seen the action of the states you spoke of and would very much like to read them. I have never regretted the step I have taken and know whatever hardships I have to endure, I never shall. I hope when I come home, I shall find you a regular Black Republican and nigger lover. I will now draw my letter to a close. Write soon. Accept these few lines from your nephew, — A. R. Nash


1 Fort Alexander was one of three forts that were built in Montgomery County in July 1861, along with Forts Ripley and Franklin. They were intended to protect Chain Bridge and the reservoir of the Washington water system. Fort Alexander was named for Colonel Barton S. Alexander, who superintended the construction of the three forts. In the spring of 1863, the three forts were combined as Fort Sumner.

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