Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Letters to the Home Circle: The North Carolina Service of Pvt. Henry A. Clapp, Company F, Forty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 1862-1863

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Letters to the Home Circle: The North Carolina Service of Pvt. Henry A. Clapp, Company F, Forty-Fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 1862-1863

Article excerpt

Letters to the Home Circle: The North Carolina Service of Pvt. Henry A. Clapp, Company F, Forty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 1862-1863. Edited by John R. Barden. (Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, c. 1998 Pp. xlii, 252. Paper, $28.00 plus $3.00 postage, ISBN 0-86526-270-5. Order from the press at 109 East Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601-2807.)

Henry Austin Clapp was a Harvard graduate who served in a Massachusetts volunteer regiment in eastern North Carolina from October 1862 to June 1863. Over the course of his stay he wrote forty-four letters to his extended family, a group he referred to as the "home circle." His mother kept these letters in a bound journal, which was subsequently stored at Tryon Palace Historic Site in New Bern, N.C., where historian John R. Barden worked and became acquainted with them. He has since edited this volume of Clapp's accounts of his brief Civil War career.

Clapp was not a distinguished soldier. The reader looking for grand narratives of battles will be sorely disappointed. In one of his company's skirmishes with Confederates, for example, Clapp ingloriously lost his rifle. Although Clapp may not be the best source for his military heroism, his letters cover a wide range of topics, including fellow soldiers, the sights and atmosphere of wartime eastern North Carolina, and even a few passing comments concerning the demise of slavery. Perhaps the most significant items of this volume are Clapp's detailed notes, on enumerating a census of former slaves in the region. …

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