IDENTIFIED CIVIL WAR MAINE VOLUNTEER’S CANTEEN: 25th, 32nd, and 31st REGIMENTS

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Item Code: 819-124

This 1858 pattern “bulls-eye” pattern canteen comes with a signed letter of provenance from another, respected, Civil War dealer dated 2018 and bears a soldier’s carved initials on the throat: “J.L. Field.” According to the letter, the canteen first surfaced at an estate sale in Maine.  There is only one candidate who matches the location and name: all men named “J. Field” from Maine are listed with middle initials and only one man is “J.L. Field.”

James L. Field from Freeport, Maine, did two tours of service in the Civil War. The first was in the 25th Maine, in which he enlisted on 9/29/62 at age 19 and mustered into Co. G of the 25th as of the same date. This was a nine-month regiment that arrived in Washington in October 1862 and was posted to Arlington Heights to guard the “Long Bridge” and construct fortifications. In late March they were ordered forward to Chantilly and assigned to picket duty in that area and along the Little River Turnpike. They returned to Maine in late June and Field mustered out with the regiment 7/10/63 at Portland.

Field’s second tour was more arduous. He enlisted in the 32nd Maine on 3/23/64 at age 21 and was mustered into Co. C as of the same date. His previous military experience seems to have been taken into account for he was made a corporal and six months later, on 9/23/64 he was promoted to sergeant major, the chief non-commissioned officer of the regiment.

In this regiment Field saw more action than his first. The unit was mustered in for three years and lost 4 officers and 81 enlistedmen killed or mortally wounded while serving in the 9th Army Corps in the Army of the Potomac. So great was the need for troops in Grant’s Overland Campaign that the regiment was rushed to the field with just the six companies that had completed enrollment and was heavily engaged at Spottsylvania (including 7 killed and 28 wounded on May 12 according to CWdata, and another 3 killed and 13 wounded on May 18,) and the North Anna, where they were joined by the remaining four companies on May 26. The regiment then saw further action at Totopotomoy, Cold Harbor, Bethesda Church, Petersburg (seeing frequent losses in the siege lines and the disastrous assault at the Battle of the Crater,) Weldon Railroad, etc. During their service CWdata lists some 56 points at which they took casualties. In December they were consolidated with the 31st Maine and the regiment officially ceased to exist. Although supernumerary officers and non-commissioned officers were mustered out at that point, Field was transferred into the 31st Maine as Sergeant Major and served with that unit until he was mustered out 7/15/65 (ref: Houston’s history of the 32nd and Field’s pension card.) The consolidation took place at Petersburg and the 31st continued to serve there, taking losses of 7 killed and 26 wounded in the assault of April 2 and seeing action at Sailors Creek as well.

The condition of the canteen is very good, with no holes, brackets in place and much of the tinned finish intact. The cover is long gone and the strap has been replaced with a copy for display.

This canteen is a memento of real service brought home by a veteran.  [sr]

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