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Lewis Shaddinger Letters, 1862-1865, Charleston, S.C. to Joseph G. Overholt, Plumsteadville, Pa.

Eleven letters, 1862-1865, to Joseph G. Overholt of Plumsteadville, Pa., contain correspondence from Overholt's cousin Lewis Shaddinger, who served with Union infantry in South Carolina during the siege of Charleston.

The Overholt papers add to the Library's Civil War holdings relating to the 104th Pennsylvania Regiment, which took part in the operations against Morris Island. Shaddinger's commanding officer, Col. William Watts Hart Davis, raised the 104th in the vicinity of Doylestown, Bucks County. Davis, who later founded the Bucks County Historical Society, was both a participant and a field historian. The South Caroliniana Library holds papers of his brigade headquarters in addition to his published history of the regiment. Also, it owns transcribed copies of Civil War letters from Davis' relative and critic Capt. Alfred Marple.

Eight of the eleven letters depict operations from the viewpoint of Private Shaddinger, who in 1862 had enlisted in Co. A. Shaddinger's letters to Overholt tended to be sporadic, all of them dating either before or after the heaviest fighting on Morris Island.

Shaddinger wrote at some length relating to camp life, siege operations against Charleston, and the general progress of the war. On 15 February 1863 he reported the regiment's journey southward to Hilton Head and Beaufort on a naval transport vessel. A subsequent letter relates details of their deployment to Edisto as reinforcements for an unsuccessful attack on Charleston in early April. Beaufort, he suggested, "has the appearence of once being A Splended place, but is now ocupied by fedrel troops and negroes, the wether hear is very warm, we have had ripe blackberys these two Weeks; the negro wenches and negro boys go through the Camps every day with baskets on their heads with blackbury to Sell, the[y] Sell them at five Cents A quart."

From this point, his letters skip to late 1863. With Ft. Wagner in Union hands, he then shared the general view that operations against Charleston were proceeding more slowly than expected. "We are mounting guns every day," he reported from Morris Island on 20 October, "principely one and tow hundred pounders, one three hundred pounder is to be mounted to day, the firing of late has been A one sided gaim as we do but little of it, the rebs doing it all to their one plasure."

Gen. Gillmore, Shaddinger reported, had moved his headquarters to James Island, where he was engaged in the seige operation-"it is the general opinion that the Stiring part of the war will be before Charleston during the winter....I imagin that he will open in ernest and may god grant him A victory, and one that will be A Speady close of the war, that peas may again be established throughout our land....the Capture of Charleston would read well in your northern papers, but we are not in Charlston yet, and it may cost yet, time labour and blood ear that time will be; our onley hope of reaching the city in Safety sooner or later, is to trust in divine providence; if Gen. Gillmore can not take the city he can burn it down if he Sees proper."

"War news of this army of late has been but little," he wrote on 13 December. "Some tow weeks ago our batteries Seamed to take an intrest in arousing the quiet Sleapers of Charleston, every night at about midnight they would through Some five or six Shells into the city, which would arouse the rebels and cause them to open their batteries upon us at once, but of late the Sheling of the city has been continued in more earnest, and the other day the city could be Seen to be on fire."

"The rebs Say that Gen. Gillmore cant take Charleston," he concluded, "But I dont think that he has tryed to take it yet, let them wate till he tryes, and then we'l See."

But Gillmore mounted a winter expedition against Confederate forces in Florida, leaving four regiments behind to hold Morris Island. On 19 February 1864, Shaddinger reported, "It is now better than two mounth that I have been detailed to werk in the boat yard on this island, and have been at work Since then; the part of my work is painting boats; their has been near one hundred of these boats maid hear this winter." The letter tells also of the sinking of a blockade runner, the Presto, in early February.

That spring the regiment embarked for Hilton Head and later for Florida. Shaddinger served nearly the entirety of his three-year term; his discharge from the army occurred by general order on 16 June 1865.

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