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Record 8/294
Letter written by Joseph Arnold to his family in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Joseph was a member of the 1st Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry (3 Months Service) when he wrote this letter. He describes his observations of the city of Harper's Ferry, Virginia, where the Federal Arsenal had been destroyed by Confederate forces. Harper's Ferry, July 23, 1861 Dear parents and siblings, Yesterday, we left Charlestown, [Virginia] and came here to Harper's Ferry. When we arrived here, I went to see the arsenal, which the Secessionists burnt down. It is a large building made of brick, about 400 feet in length, and consists of a number (of buildings). Each building is specifically for casting bullets and for fabricating rifles in general. The buildings are situated in a valley below on the Potomac. Between the buildings, there is a road, which was lined with beautiful shady trees. There is a water reservoir beside the road for putting out fires in case one should break out. The magazine is along the way. Behind the rifle factory is the arsenal, which the Union troops burnt as they were driven out. You see, they took with them as many rifles as they could and burnt the ones they did not take lest they fall into the hands of the Secessionists. When the Secessionists arrived in Harper's Ferry, they burnt down the rifle factory as well as an iron bridge, which is about a quarter of a mile in length. And they sent in six cannons, two of which are 36-pounders and about 15 feet long. [Continued on the back side] Maryland, July 25, 1861 Dear parents, I began this letter in Harper's Ferry. However, we received marching orders, and I was unable to finish it. We left Harper's Ferry the day before last, again crossing the Potomac River. Two miles from the river, we met the 3rd Wisconsin Regiment with a company from Oshkosh. I talked to some acquaintances from Oshkosh. Now, we are 30 miles from Harper's Ferry, and we are going to guard the canal, the Potomac [River], and the railroad here until our time is over. Where or near which town we are at current, I do not know. Our time will be over August 17. We will then return to Wisconsin. I have received word that the 2nd Wisconsin Regiment fought a battle near Manassas Junction, [Virginia] and it is said that many lost their lives there. I heard that 70 men from one company are said to have died. I do not know of any further news. I have received only one letter from you. Whether they did not reach me or whether you did not write, I do not know. This is the fourth letter I am writing to you. When you receive this letter, you do not need to respond to it anymore. Because by the time your letter arrives here, I may already be able to speak to you face to face. I will close now and will forever remain Your son and brother Joseph Arnold
Letter -THE CIVIL WAR -Copyright Oshkosh Public Museum

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Last modified on: December 12, 2009