Civil War Covers
Siege of Petersburg, Va.
In late January 1865, a young Vermont non-commissioned officer, Corporal Alanson M. Aseltyne, penned a letter to his wife, Esther D. Aseltyne of Swanton Falls, Vermont. Stationed in the trenches around besieged Petersburg, Aseltyne took advantage of a lull between battles to write his letter. After finishing his message, he inserted it into a pretty Regimental Patriotic envelope with a printed address.
The cover is unusual for two reasons. First, it was printed with both a return address (Co. F, 10th Vermont Infantry) and his wife's name and home address. Second, it was posted at Washington, DC, not at Old Point Comfort, Virginia. I'm not sure why this was done. Old Point Comfort was much closer than the US Capitol. Furthermore, a military courier had to travel through Northern Virginia and dodge CSA guerillas led by Col. Mosby, a risky operation.
Alanson was mustered into the 10th Vermont on the same day as his brother John and his cousin Merritt, September 1, 1862. Only Alanson was destined to survive the war and return safely to his family. Cousin Merritt was mortally wounded in action (MWIA) in the first battle the 10th Vermont participated (action at Orange Grove, Virginia, November 27, 1863). Merritt lingered for a month before dying two days after Christmas. Brother John was killed in action at Cedar Creek, Virginia, October 19, 1864.
Alanson M. Aseltyne, a resident of Swanton, enlisted on August 19, 1862, and was mustered in on September 1, 1862 in Co. F, 10th Vt., as a private. He was wounded in action at Orange Grove on Nov. 27, 1863, the same day his cousin was MWIA. Likely they stood side-by-side. Aseltyne was promoted to corporal on Jan. 1, 1864. Finally he mustered out with his regiment on June 22, 1865.
John M. Aseltyne, another resident of Swanton, actually enlisted 3 days earlier than Alanson, on August 16, 1862. Like his brother, John was mustered in the Co. F, 10th Vermont on September 1, 1862, as a private. Again, like Alanson, he was promoted to corporal on the same day: Jan. 1, 1864. Unlike his more fortunate brother, John was killed in action at Cedar Creek, Va., on October 19, 1864.
Of the three relatives, cousin Merritt B. Aseltyne enlisted first, on August 15, 1862, while a resident of Swanton. As was the case for the two brothers, Merritt was mustered in Co. F, 10th Vermont on September 1, 1862, as a private. Regrettably, Merritt was also the first to die, falling MWIA at Locust or Orange Grove, Nov. 27, 1863. He died of complications arising from wounds on December 27, 1863.
1. The Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion (reprint) Newport, VT: Civil War Enterprises
2. Tom Ledoux, INTERNET address: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Larry Peck, INTERNET address: email@example.com
TECHNICAL INFORMATION ON COVER
1. Type: Union Regimental Patriotic (unlisted in Walcott) campaign cover (siege of Petersburg)
2. Condition; pretty buff cover with fancy printed address and printed regimental address, albeit reduced on RHS, affecting stamp (Scott #65) and address somewhat
3. Cancel: barely tied Feb. 1, 1865, Washington, DC, circular date stamp plus fancy segmented cork killer
Co. F, 10th Vermont
Mrs. Esther D. Aseltyne
Swanton Falls, Vermont
5. Purchased: T & T Philatelics, 1/18/97, Richmond Stamp Show