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West, Lewis H. (b. 1829) to Harriet Moore

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC03836.61 Author/Creator: West, Lewis H. (b. 1829) Place Written: Aboard USS "New Ironsides" off Charleston, South Carolina Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 2 March 1864 Pagination: 4 p. : 24.4 x 19.4 cm.

Summary of Content: References receiving her latest letter. Speaks cynically about the situation off the South Carolina coast, saying "It really seems as if there was a fatality about all our operations. here, every thing being put off too long. Everybody knows now that Charleston could have been easily taken after the fall of Port Royal yet no move was made to do so until 16 months afterwards." Says there were many lost opportunities. Says he kept Christmas and New Years by having elaborate dinners, which he was not able to enjoy because of poor health. Makes reference to the sinking of the USS "Housatonic" with a torpedo by the CSN "H. L. Huntley"(sic). Says "The singular part of it was that we were perfectly aware of their intentions and had descriptions of their torpedo vessels, and were on the lookout for them. Yet on this occasion they came several miles out to sea, in a nearly submerged vessel." Says the ships are "now kept underweigh all night, a practice it would have been quite as well as to have adopted sooner." Says he has just finished reading Parton's "Life of Butler in New Orleans" and liked it very much. Written on stationery of the USS "New Ironsides." The "H. L. Hunley," a Confederate submarine, sank the 1800 ton steam sloop USS "Housatonic" in Charleston Harbor on February 17, 1864. Immediately after the attack the Hunley sank with eight crew men onboard. The wreck of the Hunley was recovered in 2004, bringing the vessel back into the public eye. The remains of the crew men were identified and buried with full military honors.

Background Information:


Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Civil WarMilitary HistoryNavyUnion ForcesUnion Soldier's LetterSoldier's LetterWomen's HistoryHealth and MedicalDiet and nutritionMilitary ProvisionsHolidays and CelebrationsIroncladMaritimeConfederate States of AmericaBattleSubmarineUnion GeneralLiterature and Language Arts

Sub Era: The American Civil War

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