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115th Regiment
The Civil War Letters of Luther Milton Loper
Annotated by the Donor, Martha Deed

Enlisted August 6, 1862, Saratoga Springs, NY. Mustered out, June 17, 1865
Compiled, scanned and transcribed by Martha Deed, North Tonawanda, NY.

Mustered in as sergeant, promoted to first sergeant in November 20, 1863, commissioned first lieutenant May 17, 1865 with rank from February 1, 1865.  Mustered out with company June 17, 1865, at Raleigh, N.C.  Died July 5, 1865 in a military hospital in Rhode Island.  Originally buried at Portsmouth Grove, R.I.  Reburied in the Cypress Hills National Cemetery, Brooklyn NY, Section 1 Site 3564.

Collection of 42 original handwritten letters, including many envelopes, dated June 12, 1862 (before enlistment) to June 5, 1865.  Also, a transcript only (ca 1945) of letter dated Dec 25/62. 

Dates can be established for the small number of undated letters by analyzing content in context of the 115th Regt's history.  The letters were written to Juliette Loper, his cousin.  She retained the letters, and they were passed on to her daughter, Jessie Shepard Salls.  Jessie Shepard Salls passed them on to her granddaughter, Martha Deed, in approximately 1960, along with transcripts of several of the letters (also included in the collection).  The older transcripts are typewritten and were produced either by Jessie Shepard Salls or by Martha Deed.

Since 1960, the letters have been kept in an archival box in a chest that is rarely opened.  All letters are legible, although some required enhancement by scanning and use of Photoshop.  Most of the letters are in good to excellent condition.  They have not been exposed to light at least since 1960.  Prior to 1960, Jessie Shepard Salls kept the letters in a drawer to preserve them.

Letter contents:  Everyday events in a Union soldier's life, comments about particular battles, including Gettysburg, Petersburg, and battles in the Beaufort S.C. area.  Loper was captured by Rebels shortly after his enlistment.  The collection contains letters about his prisoner experience.  Also included, references to holidays while in service (especially July 4 and Thanksgiving), camp conditions, not receiving pay, attempting to obtain a photograph of himself to send home, theft of his boots, deaths and woundings of people around him, and his lengthy stays in various military hospitals after being wounded twice.

Loper discusses everyday family, social and cultural matters and retains an interest in national events such as draft riots in New York City, Lincoln's assassination, and the surrender.

References:

115th New York Infantry
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/115th_New_York_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment

Additional references are included as notes on specific letter transcripts.

1.  Saratoga Spa, June 14, 1862
Transcript made ca. 1960 (or earlier) and Original.  Typewritten transcript lists date as June 12, but it clearly is June 14, based on envelope postmark. Typewritten transcripts are left as transcriber originally produced them.  Corrections on the typewritten transcripts were made by the original transcriber, Jessie Shepard Salls, daughter of Juliett Loper Shepard (recipient of these letters) or by Martha Deed, great-granddaughter of Juliett Loper Shepard.

2.  Saratoga Springs, July 28, 1862
Transcript made ca. 1960 and Original

3.  Camp Douglas, Chicago October 22, 1862
Transcript and Original

4.  Arlington Heights, November 26, 1862
Transcript and Original.  Envelope marked “1863” in pencil.
Incorrect because writer was in Arlington Heights in 1862.

5.  Camp Vermont, December 25, 1862
Transcript made ca. 1960.  Note that original letter is missing.  Jessie Salls, who transcribed this letter, used it in an early (1940s) essay, and apparently the letter was not returned to the packet. 
See also, this Christmas letter for related information.

6.  York Town, January 7, 1863
Transcript and Original

7.  Hilton Head, February 23, 1863
Transcript and Original.  References to prison camp, Camp Douglas.
Related information: http:, 18/en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_Douglas_(Chicago)

8.  Hilton Head, March 10, 1863
Transcript made ca. 1960 and Original

9.  Head Quarters 115th Regt Hilton Head S.C., March 16, 1863
Transcript and Original.  First page of this letter has been penciled over.  Interior pages of folio appear untouched.

10. Headquarters 115th Regt. Hilton Head S. C., April 5, 1863
Transcript made ca. 1960 and Original

11. Hilton Head, S.C., April 23, 1863
Transcript and Original

12. Hilton Head S.C., May 10, 1863
Transcript and Original

13. Hilton Head S.C., June 23, 1863
Transcript and Original

14. Beaufort S.C., July 13, 1863
Transcript and Original.  Leaves enclosed and preserved.  Scanned with letter.

15. Beaufort S.C., August 2, 1863
Transcript and Original

16. Beaufort S.C., August 21, 1863
Transcript and Original

17. Beaufort S. C., August 28, 1863
Original, Transcript, and Transcript made ca. 1960

18.  Beaufort S.C., September 15, 1863
Transcript and Original

19.  Beaufort S.C., October 2, 1863
[no year − probably 1863]  
Transcript and Original

20.  Beaufort S.C., November 19, 1863
Transcript and Original

21.  Camp near Port Royal Ferry, Port Royal Island South Carolina, December 11, 1863
Transcript and Original

22.  Hilton Head, S. C., January 7 1864
[Letter dated 1862, but can't be right.  Postmark is clearly 1864.]  
Transcript and Original

23.  Fort Fisher N.C., February 10, 1864
Transcript and Original

24.  Hospital No. 18 Beaufort S. C., March 14, 1864
Transcript and Original

25.  Hospital, No. 18, Beaufort S.C., April 2, 1862 
Transcript made ca. 1960 [question date − most likely 1864 − He was wounded in February 1864] Transcript clearly 1864.  "2" and "4" sometimes almost identical.

26.  Hospital No. 1 Beaufort S.C., May 27, 1864
Transcript and Original

27.  General Hospital No. 1 Beaufort S. C., June 12, 1864
Transcript and Original

28.  Beaufort S. C., June 27, 1864
Transcript and Original

29.  Beaufort, S.C., U.S.A., General Hospital, July 24, 1864
Transcript and Original

30.  Beaufort S.C., August 16, 1864
Transcript and Original

31.  Camp near Petersburg, September 10, 1864
Transcript and Original

32.  Camp near Petersburg, September 19th, 1864
Transcript and Original

33.  Camp of the 115th NY Infantry Near Petersburg VA, September 21st 1864
Transcript and Original

34.  New Camp Hospital Fortress Monroe, October 2nd, 1864
Transcript made ca. 1960 and Original

35.  New Camp Hospital, October 14th 1864
Transcript and Original

36.  Camp of the 115th New York Vols, November 6, 1864
Transcript and Original

37.  Camp of  115th N.Y. Vols, November 21st 1864
Transcript and Original

38.  Camp of 115th NY Vol, November 29, 1864
Transcript made ca. 1960 and Original

39.  Camp of the 115th N. Y. Vols, December 4, 1864
Transcript and Original

40.  Fort Fisher, January 26, 1865
Transcript and Original

41.  Empty envelope postmarked New Bern, N.C., April 21.

42.  Raleigh N.C., April 29 1865
Transcript and Original

43.  Raleigh N.C., May 19, 1865
Transcript and Original, Transcript ca 1960 also.

44.  Raleigh N. C., June 5, 1865
Transcript and Original

Documents detailing Luther M Loper's death and burial.

 

New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: September 19, 2013
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/115thInf/115thInfTable.htm

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