Feb 04, 2016 - Sale 2404

Sale 2404 - Lot 121

Price Realized: $ 5,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(CIVIL WAR--NEW YORK.) DeGroot, George G. Large archive of letters from a sergeant in the Monitor Regiment. 56 Autograph Letters Signed to brother Nicholas DeGroot of New York City; various sizes, condition generally strong. With 15 other letters to Nicholas DeGroot, most of them from other soldiers in the 127th New York. Vp, 1862-65

Additional Details

George Gordon DeGroot (1841-1865) of Canarsie, Brooklyn volunteered for three years as a sergeant with the 127th New York Infantry, popularly known as the Monitors. The regiment was initially stationed in Virginia, made a long forced march to Frederick, MD in the wake of Gettysburg (where he wrote on 12 July 1863 that "all the men have either no shoes or no coat, some no hats and others hardly any pants. . . . I wore no shirt at all up the peninsula"), and went south for the Charleston Harbor campaign in September 1863. The regiment was mercifully spared from any major combat for their first two years of service, though they spent plenty of time near the front. Sergeant DeGroot was eager to fight: "To run a rebel through with a bayonet is fun and I could do it with a clearer conscience than I could killing a pig" (4 March 1864). He sometimes served as his company's orderly sergeant, which entailed its own form of combat: "I now have to make the men toe the mark or be reduced, and quite often risk my life in fights with them, as I have a rough company, and it takes a rough man to deal with them" (17 October 1863). His success in this role left him hoping for an officer's commission in a new regiment: "I am just the man to drill conscripts or niggers" (20 March 1863).
DeGroot's South Carolina letters are particularly compelling. He describes Fort Sumter after two years of shelling: "The rampart & fort looks more like a badly damaged cheese than old Sumpter" (9 September 1863). He describes Fort Wagner at length and sketches Sumter on 2 May 1864; he also provides a sketch of his Coles Island "shanty" on 12 January 1864 (illustrated). His first real taste of combat came on 31 July 1864, a failed amphibious assault on Fort Johnson, SC: "It looked like a much better chance for our lives & victory besides in landing than to row through their heavy fire against the tide, with the name of defeat besides." The regiment had been criticized for this performance in a Long Island newspaper, and DeGroot wrote: "Some think of lynching the editor when caught."
DeGroot suffered from months of chronic illness, which sometimes sent him to the hospital, and on 3 September 1864 worried: "I almost think at the rate I am losing strength, that David Jones locker will soon come." However, a furlough to New York left him refreshed at the time of his last letter on 29 November. The next day was the regiment's first battle at Honey Hill, followed shortly by the Battle of Tulifinny or Deveaux's Neck, where DeGroot was badly wounded. He died in a hospital in January 1865. The collection concludes with a letter from one of his fellow Monitor soldiers, William Newberry, regarding the shipment of his effects back home.