View Full Version : LETTER - Stars and Stripes Over Sumter

Sgt Rob ODG
01-16-2007, 08:17 AM
I received this letter as a gift and I have two questions you may be able to help me with:
1. Was it common for writers at this time to not sign their names to letters?
2. What is the meaning (do you think) of the final comment – “the stars and stripes wave over Sumter”?

Thanks for any assistance you can offer:
Rob Stevenson
Chesapeake Volunteer Guard

Spelling is left unaltered
ENVELOPE addressed to Mr. James Phillips
Foster, R.I.
(then a space and) MountVernon (and what looks like Va – but it is difficult to read)
Manor Hill, Nov. 12, 1861

Old Friend,
I take my pen in hand to answer yours which I received in the Aut. Season, very glad to hear from you. My health is somewhat better than it has been. James, I do not know what to write to you. I wish I could be home. I could spin you some long yarns.
I guess I will tell you about the inspection we had last Saturday. To commence the program we had one of our old Virginia cold rainstorms and I tell you when it rains here, it rains in earnest and the clay mud is about ankle deep in about one-half hour after it commences to rain. Such was the day when 30,000 men of us were

ordered into the field to be reviewed by our Noble Gen. McClellan, and he was there, he and staff. I thought as he sat on his noble horse watching the troops as they passed by, I would love to have you there to see him and the thirty thousand men. We see no such training to home
We had a sham fight according to his orders. He planned a battle and we went in our little battery playing its part. Raining, oh grief, you ought to have seen it rain, every man wet to his hide, and if there was no wailing, there was chattering of teeth, for we were very cold.
But we had something to cheer us up when we got back to Camp, and that was to see our Paymaster who

paid us two months pay. But we got ourselves dried before we went to bed. Big old Virginia fence rails build large fires. I am sorry, I hope we shall move soon, for the rails have most played out in this part of the land.
Well, here I am wandering into some foolishness. Is a man has not got common sense he cannot write no more than some foolish mess, so you must excuse me for the present. Tell Jane I am going to write her a letter when you are not thinking.
Good bye, Old Friend,
Look for me in about 6 months. Write soon.
The Shwe. Lee Place
Oh, James, the stars and stripes wave over Sumter.
Direct your letters to
4 Battery C.R.I. Volingteers
Washington, D.C.
Leave off the Camp Sprague

NY Pvt
01-16-2007, 07:01 PM
Letters were normally signed. At least the ones I have read and looked at. However, I have seen some occasions when they were not signed, whether the writer forgot, did not feel the need to, or simply there was not enough space left on the paper to sign their name. As far as your letter, I cannot tell. Perhaps I’m reading the letter wrong but could “Lee Place” be the writer of your letter?

As far as “the stars and stripes wave over Sumter,” soldiers often wrote home about camp rumors concerning the war, and other army news. Often soldiers wised up throughout their terms of service and did not trust such rumors as they often turned out false. But this being a letter from early in the war and this guys term of service, it probably is referring to a bogus rumor that Ft. Sumter was retaken by Union forces. The rumor probably stems from the Port Royal expedition which embarked Oct. 29th 1861 and arrived off of Port Royal (what was left of the fleet that is) on November 7th 1861. Upon departure this was the largest fleet assembled by the United States up to World War II.

Sgt Rob ODG
01-16-2007, 07:55 PM
There was room to sign. You may have tagged it with the writer feeling no need to sign. The writing gets very difficult to read toward the end - the writer may have been rushing. Perhaps "Lee Place" was a name - if I could make out the word before it, that might be a key. I'll keep working on it. Thanks
Rob Stevenson

01-17-2007, 09:50 AM
There's a Leander Place in a R.I. battery in the Soldiers and Sailors roster -- but it's not the 4th RI. Perhaps a cousin of "Lee" Place?
Just wondering out loud.
Paul Hadley