Civil War letter taught us about a Madison hero
Saturday, March 23, 2013 5:00 AM
Many people were disappointed that a local effort to purchase a letter from a black Civil War soldier from Madison was not successful.
The letter, penned by Sgt. Morgan W. Carter in December 1864, was sold at auction for $32,000 on Thursday. The buyer's name was not revealed by the Swann Auction Galleries in New York City which handled the sale.
Local historians had set up a fundraiser hoping to bring the letter home - getting about $20,000 in pledges in less than a week - but they were forced to drop out of the bidding when the action quickly surpassed the estimated selling price of $6,000-$8,000.
It would have been nice to see the letter on display at the Jefferson County Historical Society. But, there is a bright side to this tale.
Those who followed the stories published in The Madison Courier learned a new piece of local history that wasn't known to many people.
And, the fact that someone paid $32,000 for the letter is a testament to the importance of our city in American history.
Carter, who fought with the U.S. Colored Troops, was the son of John Carter, a prosperous Madison grocer and conductor on the Underground Railroad.
In the letter Carter describes the Battle of the Crater during the Siege of Petersburg and gives an impassioned description of his willingness to fight and die for emancipation.
While we were surprised to hear of the letter, we were not surprised at what Sgt. Carter wrote.
Jefferson County history is rich with tales of brave men and women who fought for the rights of all men, women and children.
Add Sgt. Morgan W. Carter to that roll call.