2 Soldier Carved “Relics” Sent Home from the Yorktown, Va. Battlefield. They were carved from the hollow tree that Sharpshooter “California Joe” hid in and shot from! – With Patriotic Stationery Letter Written by Henry F. Gladding, 4th Rhode Island Infantry
This 4 page letter written in easy to read pencil has a large bust of Union General Hunter in red ink surrounded by a blue patriotic motif. Printed at the top for the soldier to fill in, also in blue ink, is “Camp”, “Regt.”, “Co.” and “U.S.A.” Our writer Henry F. Gladding a resident of Bristol, R.I. has filled in “Near White Oak, Va., 4th R. I.” and “Co. K.” The letter is dated “Saturday, June 27th, 1863”. Gladding is writing home to his mother.
- Dear Mother, Here I am again, alive and well. We got marching orders at Portsmouth Sunday last in the afternoon and started from our camp at 12 o’clock at night in the midst of a drenching rain and marched into Portsmouth where we embarked on board of the transport, Maple Leaf, for Yorktown where we arrived at about 10 o’clock the next morning & went into camp near the 11th RI V & outside of the works.
- I SEND YOU A HEART IN THIS LETTER & A CROSS IN A NEWSPAPER PRINTED AT YORKTOWN WHICH I WISH YOU TO KEEP AS A KIND OF CURIOSITY.
- The heart & cross is a still greater curiosity for there is several instances connected with the tree that they were made of that are quite conspicuous in the history of our country.
- The tree is about 8 foot thick & perfectly hollow. In the first place, Lord Cornwallis gave up his sword to General Washington under the same tree when he surrendered Yorktown.
- IN THE NEXT PLACE, IT IS THE TREE WHERE CALIFORNIA JOE LAID NIGHT & DAY AS A SHARPSHOOTER & KEPT THREE GUNS UNDER HIS EYE & KEPT THEM SO THAT THE REBELS DARE NOT SHOW THEMSELVES NEAR THEM.
- We embarked for this place on Friday morning on board the transport Peconic where we arrived last night. You will remember that this is the place where McClellan struck across the peninsular to Harrison’s Landing in his famous retreat after the Seven Days Fight…
- I don’t know of anything else of interest to write. That medicine the syrup you sent me was good. It has done me more good than anything I have taken yet. Give my love & best respects to all inquiring friends. Hoping this will find all the family & all my friends well, I remain your affectionate son, Henry F. Gladding, Co. K, 4th brigade, RIV 3rd Brigade, 3 Division, Washington, D. C. 9th Army Corps, or elsewhere.
The “newspaper printed at Yorktown” referenced in the letter is not present. The small wooden heart and cross relics are present and in very good, undamaged condition. Private Truman Head, commonly known as “California Joe”, was a famous member of the United States Sharpshooters during the American Civil War. He was under the command of Hiram Berdan.
Henry F. Gladding survived the horrible battle of Antietam where the 4th Rhode Island was cut up badly. He survived Fredericksburg and reenlisted on January 5th, 1864. During the long siege of Petersburg he fell ill and died of disease on May 7th, 1864.
#A519 – Price $595