Saturday, February 06, 2010
Shortly before my birthday I discovered something that could have been huge – a letter from Great-Great Grandfather to his sister talking about the battle of Gettysburg. Those of you that have followed this blog know this could have been big for two reasons, helping us prove that General James Barnes did not fail in his responsibilities and to give us needed information about the unit towards the end of the war.
While it was over four pages in length, it did not really touch on either. When I mentioned it to my wife, she was ready to buy it as a combined birthday and Christmas present but I felt that at $1100, it was too expensive for what little information it provided.
I went ahead and copied the letter’s content and then meant to email Donald and Steve about it but got distracted when my wife offered me a Jameson and Coke. The Jameson must have killed the brain cell that was storing that memory because I then forgot about it for a few months.
That is, until I received an email from a collector looking for more information about Edmund and the 18th Massachusetts. He had just started collecting and wanted our opinion on the value of the letter. We got in a long series of back and forths discussing why one letter would be more expensive than another (famous battle, famous unit, famous author, etc.) and how he might find a letters at a much cheaper cost. In the end he decided to pass on the letter; which was good because Donald mentioned he might get it.
About a day later, I received an email stating that the collector had changed his mind and would be getting it. And in what I consider a very gracious move, offered to give us color copies of the email. While we wouldn’t have the original, we would have an exact duplicate. About a week later he emailed me that the copy was on its way, which should have been the end of it.
So when I came home to find an envelope from FedEx on my counter, I did not bat an eye – until I saw it was from Donald.
Yes, the collector had lied to me about the letter. He was not providing a copy at all.
You see, Donald came up with a plan where he would buy it himself but have the collector tell me he was buying it and sending a copy.
So as I opened the FedEx envelope, I pulled out the original letter and yes, I was a bit emotional. Even though I had done everything I could not to see this letter, not to really care about it, much less desire it – as I saw it for the first time – it meant the world to me.
In the end, I had answered a question I didn’t know I had asked.
Historical relevance matters not when it comes to the 18th Massachusetts.
As Donald says, these are “Our Guys”. It is our duty to carry on their memory – and because of this, everything single thing about them, from a uniform button to a bugle to a razor or even to the simplest of a letters - is Sacred and Valuable in its own right. Nothing should ever be lost because it is “just” something.
Because if it belonged to the 18th, it we should always see it as, “just amazing.”