A group of Madison residents is banding together to purchase a letter written by Morgan W. Carter, a black Civil War soldier from Madison.

Written in the December 1864 and addressed only to "Charles," 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.

The document is set to sell at Swann Auction Galleries in New York City on March 21.

The letter's value is now estimated at $10,000 to $15,000.

Since the letter was uncovered earlier this month after spending 50 years in a private collection, a group of local historians has established a fund to bring the document back to Madison.

Donations should be made by check to the Morgan Carter Letter Fund and sent to P. O. Box 404, Madison, IN 47250 or dropped off at the Jefferson County Historical Society office, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If adequate funds can be raised to successfully purchase the document, plans presently call for it to be gifted to the permanent collection of the Jefferson County Historical Society.

The fundraising organizers noted that all donations will go directly to obtaining the letter and not the Jefferson County Historical Society.

Checks must be received by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 15. If Madison's bid is not successful, the checks will be returned uncashed.

Camille Fife, the city's preservation planner, Jan Vetrhus, president of the Cornerstone Society, historian and genealogist Janice Barnes, members of Jefferson County Historical Society and several others, have jumped head first into research since discovering that the letter existed.

"We want this document back in Indiana," Fife said.

The group said the letter helps answer questions about a relatively unknown Madison resident, Morgan Carter, and it holds a connection to one of Madison's most well-known abolitionists, his father, John Carter.

John Carter was prominent in the Underground Railroad movement and a board member for the Eleutherian College. Morgan Carter was a volunteer for the 28th Indiana U.S. Colored Troops who mustered out of the military in 1865 as a sergeant.