1863: “The 2nd Maine Started For Home This Morning”

Camp near Falmouth, Va.

May 18, 1863

Dear Sister,

I received your letter from Bangor last night. I am sorry that you have been worrying about my going into battle, for I did not go as near as I wanted to, but I was where I could see some of it. We came in from picket yesterday. One of the Regts of our Brigade – the 17th N.Y. – went home this morning. We marched to the depot to see them off. Continue reading

1862: “There Are About 450 Men With Our Regiment Now”

Near Snickers Gap, Va.

Wednesday Nov 5th, 1862

Dear Sister

I received your letter of Oct 26th last Saturday and now will try to answer it. I received a letter from Anne last Thursday. I will try to answer it soon. Last Thursday night we left our camp at Antietam about 7 o’clock and marched about 3 hours over hills that would make Charleston Hill feel ashamed of itself, and camped down till morning. Friday we passed through Harpers Ferry. Saturday we lay in camp and Sunday, while you were going to meeting wrapped in thick shawls and furs, we were sweating on the march, but since then it has been cooler. There was quite a frost this morning. I expect you have had some snow by this time and considerable ice. Continue reading

Thanksgiving 1862: A Civil War Soldier’s Holiday

Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving as a national holiday by proclamation in 1863 when he urged Americans to set aside the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving. (President Franklin D. Roosevelt later made it the fourth Thursday of November).

However, days of thanksgiving or autumn “thanksgiving” feasts weren’t uncommon in American prior to Lincoln’s announcement. Thus, Civil War soldiers (particularly from the North) were familiar with the concept of harvest feasts and family gatherings, often choosing to have celebrations in camp or hospital as their supplies and time allowed.

We introduce a primary source written by a Union soldier in 1862 to start today’s discussion of Thanksgiving Through The Decades: Continue reading