IDENTIFIED 6th MAINE INFANTRY SOLDIER’S POCKET BIBLE

$295.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 286-535

This small bible embodies the tragedy of war and its cost to both soldiers and their loved ones, not just from immediate loss, but for years to come. Family, friends and religious organizations on both sides often distributed bibles to soldiers departing for the war. This example is a green cloth bound pocket bible published by the New York Bible Society in 1860. Pasted inside the front cover is a presentation bookplate reading: “Maine Volunteer Militia / From the / Young Men’s Bible Society, / Bangor, Me. --- “Search the Scriptures.” In period ink on the flyleaf opposite is, “Sumner S. Bean / Co. H 6th Reg. Vol. M.M. / Camp Preble June 28 /61.”

Sumner S. Bean was a resident of Corinth, Penobscott County, Maine, and said to be a “mill man,” likely a lumber mill, when he enlisted at age 27 and mustered into Co. H of the 6th Maine Infantry (“6th Regiment Volunteer Maine Militia” as his inscription would have it.) He had married in 1855 and had three daughters.

The regiment was made part of Hancock’s brigade and then part of Keyes’ 4th Army Corps just before the Peninsular Campaign, where they saw action at Yorktown, Williamsburg and Gaines Mill. Once McClellan became stalled on the Peninsula after Fair Oaks, the weather, heat, flies and poor sanitation ate away at the army. Bean seems to have made it past the Seven Days Battles, but was hospitalized about August 1 and having spent two month at the Booklyn College hospital discharged for disability from chronic diarrhea on 11/24/62. He returned home only to die of the illness July 31, 1863. To compound the tragedy, Bean’s wife died just eleven months later, orphaning their three young daughters.

Before his death Bean had applied for a disability pension from the state and appointed Darius Sargent, a neighbor, as his agent in pursuing it. Sargent now became guardian of the three Bean girls and pursued their claims for a pension from the state. He was apparently successful.

There is a lot of work that can yet done on this family history to flesh out the subsequent lives of the people involved. We know that Darius Sargent lived until 1902. It would make fascinating reading to complete the life stories of Bean’s daughters and the relationship of the two families.

The overall condition of the bible is good. Measures 2 ½” x 3 7/8”. The binding is a bit loose from handling and carrying in a pocket, and the cover shows wear and rubbing, but it is a very good example. A couple of later names are written in it in pencil, perhaps giving more material for research.  [sr]

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