Letter from ALBERT G. PEIRCE to GEORGE PERKINS MARSH, dated January 27, 1865.
Geo P. Marsh Esqr
Inasmuch as I have very little to do nowadays perhaps I cannot spend my time any better than by writing a few lines to you. We have just finished our inventory and find our financial condition and as to make money seems to be the chief end of man we may be said to be in a flourishing way. Father and Mother have been more or less troubled with rheumatism this winter but otherwise are in usual health. My wife is as well as any woman could be with a great strong healthy baby to take care of. I am always well. The probabilities are that you will never again see the town of Burlington for we are now almost a city. The sovereigns of this place have voted to accept a city charter consequently we must now put away our country manners and black up our boots and look as spruce as possible. We are to have a Mayor and plenty of smaller officers for everybody.
About two weeks ago the boilers at the Pioneer Shop burst and made a perfect wreck
of the engine house blowing the walls out in every direction and throwing the steam
drum ten feet long and two feet in diameter weighing 2200 lbs clear over the shop
and quite a distance beyond it. Seven persons were killed instantly and three more
wounded Four hundred people were thrown out of employment for at
least two months and perhaps longer. The proprietor is doing his utmost to rebuild the house but it is slow work laying brick with the Mercury at 10 above Zero.
We are now just in the middle of winter and the snow is full three feet deep and drifted very much making it quite difficult to get about. The lake is frozen over and teams are crossing daily. Laurence Barnes is to put up a large mill for rolling iron here this summer. He has bought the property of Smalley and is to build his mill on it somewhere. Smalley stole it of the Rail road Co I suppose.
The machinery is now here from the old Mill of Keeseville Perhaps you had rather
hear about the war than these slight matters after all but there is one thing more.
You used to write some pretty hard stories about the price of fuel in Italy but the
superannuated civilization of Europe cant keep up with the progress of the universal
Yankee Nation. Wood has sold in this town, (I mean city) this winter for the modest
sum of . I have read your book through and that with
the price of wood here makes me think it the duty of every body to plant forest
trees. I just managed to discover my part but it was so small that I shall never
claim any of the profits from the sale of the book. Our national affairs look
brighter and brighter every day. I should not dare to write on such
matters as these were they not of such vast importance and so much beyond human
wisdom that the opinion of the humblest man is just as liable to be correct as that
of the wisest. My faith has been strong from the first but the glorious news we are
getting every day now strengthens
and supports it wonderfully I assure you. The terrible defeats of Early in the valley of Hood before Nashville, Shermans triumphant march across Georgia, the capture of Savannah kindles the enthusiasm and patriotism in the dullest of us and makes us proud of the name of "Yankee." And now the terrible assault and capture of Fort Fisher and the other forts around it seal the port of Wilmington from our neutral friends on your side of the water. The seal on the port of Wilmington is legal and genuine for the whole world can see at a glance that there is on it and those two letters will in future be respected, and defended too all over the world. The capture of fort Fisher illustrates our Lieut Gens character fully, having sent one expedition which failed instead of giving up he immediately sends another and stronger one which takes its. Before this reaches you "the old flag" will be floating over the city of Wilmington itself. Sherman has just left Savannah with seventy thousand iron clad veterans and as the "Charleston Mercury" pronounces him the greatest living general and his army the best regulated one the world ever saw, we can all guess where he will turn up. Thus the work goes bravely on and instead of hanging our heads with shame at the mention of the names of our commanders, , we can now ask the world to produce their superiors. The names of Grant, Sherman, Sheriden, Thomas and our own Stannard have a different odor in the nostrils of loyal citizens of the "" MClellan and Buell school. Vermont has done her full share in this work. Every call whether for men
or money has been met fully and promptly. The unflinching heroism and patriotism of our little state is written in blood all over Virginia whereever the sixth Corps has marched and fought. Successive calls have filled the thinned ranks of the "Iron Brigade" till it makes one sad to think of it. Last May they crossed the Rapidan five thousand strong, now there is thirteen hundred left only. It seems now as if we could see the beginning of the end and we all take hold with renewed courage to push the matter through to a triumphant close. Make all men before the law and establish the doctrine that every man that can fight can vote too. Give the negro the ballot and if he does not cast it for the true interest of America and against the Irish Catholic vote I am no prophet. I had much rather trust our future national existence with the negro poor and degraded as he is that with the "Noble Celt" from the Emerald Isle. I hope I have not wearied you with this patriotic effusion of mine and hoping also to see you for a unless you wish to stay longer I remain
Yours trulyA. G. Peirce
References in this letter:
Bradley B. Smalley (1836-1909) was a lawyer and a longtime Democratic leader in Vermont.
In September and October, the Confederate officer, Jubal Anderson Early (1816-1894), was engaged in a series of battles in the Shenandoah Valley.
William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) a Union general in the Civil War. After burning Atlanta on November 15, 1864, he led the famous march to the sea, destroying Savannah on Dec 21st.
Fort Fisher, located at the mouth of Cape Fear River in North Carolina, was a major Confederate port open to blockade runners. The Union forces first expedition to destroy the fort began in December 1864. Despite the efforts of sixty warships it ended in failure. A second expedition launched in January of the following year was successful. On January 15th, army and navy forces destroyed the Fort and Wilmington was then cut off.
Ulysses S. Grant, after overseeing the defeat of Confederate forces at the battle of Chattanooga in November 1863, became general in chief of the Union armies on March 12, 1864.
Philip Henry Sheriden (1831-1888) of Albany, New York, served as a general in the Union Army in the Civil War.
George Henry Thomas (1816-1870) was a Union general in the Civil War.
General George Jerrison Stannard (1820-1886), a native of Georgia, Vermont, led the Second Vermont Brigade at Gettysburgh where they held a key position on Cemetery Ridge and destroyed the right flank of Pickett's Charge.
A professional soldier, George Brinton McClellan (1826-1885) created the Army of the Potomac. He continually overestimated the strength of enemy troops and was widely accused of indecisiveness and delay.
Don Carlos Buell (1818-1898) failed to follow up the retreating Confederate army after the Battle of Perryville in October 1862. That and his friendship with McClellan cost him his command.
The only all-western brigade in the Army of the Potomac, the "Iron Brigade" was noted for its heroic conduct. General Joseph Hooker gave it its name after the battle at South Mountain on September 14, 1862. It suffered heavy losses and was all but destroyed in the summer of 1863, although eastern regiments were added.
A Burlington businessman, Albert G. Peirce ran the J. S. Peirce and Sons, a grocery and agricultural supplies store on Church Street with his father, J. S. Peirce. When the Marshes left for Italy, the family looked after their house and forwarded their mail.