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The veteran Union soldier, his discharge delayed, signs a discouraged letter home in September 1864, telling of defeats at the hands of Confederate General Joe Shelby in Arkansas.
Autograph Letter signed: "N. D. Kelly", 4 pages, front and verso (integral leaf), 5x8 folded, 10¼x8 open flat. Duvall's Bluff, Arkansas, 1864 September 1. To "Dear Brother", in full (with original spelling and grammar): "I received your vary kind letter of the 24th and was glad to hear that you was well, it found me somewhat unwell for I have had the ague but it broak and I hope that I may not have it any more, There was battle on the Railroad some 20 miles from here afew days ago with Shelbay. He started some hay makers where there was some of the 54 Ill. and our recruits was there. The 54 was about all taking prisoner and 77 of our is taking and missing together and all that saved us I mean the old soldiers was that we refused to doo duty after the 22nd of July, and was sent here under arrest. If it had not been for that I wood have been a prisner with old Shelby. Our discriptive rolls and papers of all kinds was lost there, and as for us going home that is more than I can tell, for the officers here says that we will have to wate till the officers comes back with the Co. Books, and from the best authority that we can get thay have gone on duty in the teritory. And if that is the case we will have to wate orders to go up thare, and have no armes and dooing no duty. Sam I did have this writ out in detail the other day to send to you and I got up to get envelop and thare come gust of wind and caried it away so then I posponed it untill today, and have giv but a short history of the general preceedings, but will at some future time tell or write it all to you. I got a letter from father writing the 11th saying thay was all well, it is vary dry thare crops is short, E. W. Squires is maried he maried, Cris Smiths girl, this is all that I can write at. Write as soon as you get this and Direct to Duvalls Bluff Ark and I will get it sooner. Write soon for I know not when I may have to go. I remain your Brother". Soldier Kelly, obviously an enlisted man, does not give his unit designation. Duvalls Bluff was a major supply center and staging area for Union forces operating in Arkansas. However, General Joseph Shelby's Confederate cavalry, known as the Iron Brigade, was wreaking havoc with Union forces in daring raids across Missouri and Arkansas. Union forces suffered a major defeat at Mark's Mills in late April 1864, which sounds like the debacle described in Kelly's letter. The Union cause was on its way to victory when this letter was written; General Sherman had just taken Atlanta and embarked on his March to the sea, and General Grant was grinding away at the dwindling Confederate forces defending Richmond, but such distant victories were far from the mind of N. D. Kelly when he wrote of the campaign in Arkansas. General Shelby never did surrender. With no hope of victory remaining, he defied Western theater commander Kirby Smith's order to surrender and he led his brigade across the border into Mexico. 1 vertical 2 horizontal fold creases. Soiled and lightly creased. Otherwise fine condition.

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