Mar 28, 2019 - Sale 2503

Sale 2503 - Lot 318

Price Realized: $ 3,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 4,000 - $ 6,000
"MARYLAND IS FREE FOR NEGROS TO GO WHERE THEY PLEASE" (MILITARY--CIVIL WAR.) Marbery, William W. A soldier comments on Lincoln, Maryland's emancipation and his missing back pay. Autograph Letter Signed to younger sister Mary Marbury in Baltimore. 4 pages, 7 x 4 1/2 inches, on one folding sheet; light toning to final page, separations at folds with skillful repairs. Summit House Hospital, Philadelphia, 11 November [1864]

Additional Details

William W. Marbury (born circa 1834) worked as a waiter in Baltimore before the war, living with his parents and numerous siblings. In December 1863, he enlisted as a sergeant in the 23rd United States Colored Troops. They participated in the Siege of Petersburg from June 1864 onward, participating in the Battle of the Crater on 30 July. Marbury landed in the hospital with an illness in October 1864, and wrote this letter while still a patient. While we normally expect soldiers to be sending home money to their families, Marbury's situation was reversed, as he had apparently received no pay while in the hospital: "I received bothe of your letters, one containg 50 cets & 4 stamps, the other containing 50 cets & also one newspaper, the American. They was misplaced but you percieve that I received them & I was very much obliged to you for the money. I am tired of asking you all to send me money, but then I can pay you soon. We are looking for the paymaster every day."
Marbury then moves on to current events, most notably Abraham Lincoln's re-election and the 13 October ratification of a new Maryland constitution which finally banned slavery in the state: "I am glad Old Abe is our President for the next four years, and also say Hurrah for old Maryland. I see by the Philadelphia papers that they have taken the Baltimore Club House for the Freedmen's Home--that is where they attend to all business of the slaves that is free now-- & also see that Gen. Wallace said that all people that interfeared with or prevented the people from there freedom would be arrested & that they the colored people was under the protection of the military, so I say Hurrah for Gen Wallace, Military General of Baltimore." The Maryland Club was a private men's club composed largely of Confederate sympathizers; their clubhouse had been confiscated for use by the Freedman's Aid Society.
Marbury closes with affectionate words for his family, hoping they can come to visit in Philadelphia: "Tell Eliza, when we get paid I will send her some money to come & see me. I think we will get paid off next week. That is what they say & then you won't have to bother Capt. Leslie for a pass, as Maryland is free for Negros to go where they please. . . . Tell mother she must try & come and see me if I don't get a furlough." The end of slavery in Maryland had made travel across the region less dangerous. A complete transcription is available upon request.