MAY 1863 UNION SOLDIER LETTER—BREVET BRIGADIER GENERAL ISAAC DYER, 15TH MAINE INFANTRY

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The letter below is one of a series of 27 letters written by Colonel Dyer to his wife between August 31, 1862 and August 11, 1865.

A resident of Skowegan, ME, 42 year-old Captain Isaac Dyer was placed in command of the 15th Maine in August 1862 and received his appointment to replace Colonel Worder in September--his appointment to Lt. Colonel (and eventually Colonel) being made official, Dec. 12, 1862. He then commanded the unit through the remainder of the war, and received a Brigadier’s Brevet for meritorious service, March 13, 1865. Resigning from service, Sept. 13, 1865, he returned to Skowegan, lived to age 92 and was buried there in 1913 and was buried there in 1913. His 15th Maine served Louisiana & Florida & participating, in the 1864 Red River Campaign, and later in Virginia, and was present at the Bermuda Hundred. During service it lost 5 men killed and mortally wounded and 343 by disease for a total of 348.

Isaac Dyer was a well-educated, highly articulate correspondent and shrewd observer of men and events. In this letter—[Dated “Department of the Gulf / Headquarters Troops West Florida / Barrancas Fla., May 30 1863.”—3 pp. in ink on lined letterhead, 9.75” x 7.75—Exhibits fold-marks & two slight tears along fold-lines, else VG]—writes not as Colonel of the 15th Maine but as Union Commander of Troops in West Florida, a position he assumed in January 1863, relacing General Dow. Excerpts as follow:

“I am anxious to have this War closed so I can return to my home again. O what charm in the word “home.” How many pleasant associations cluster around the dear old spot, and render every other place of minor importance.

“I have some time to read and am really getting fat and lazy [As overall Union Troop commander]. Don’t know as I shall ever be good for anything if I ever get home again. I suppose I shall want to be waited on but should be willing to make the trial even at the risk of hard fare and cold weather…Ah it would be fine get into a carriage and have a ride. Sand! Sand! Sand, in very direction and no place to avoid it, but when I think of what others have to contend with I I try to be contented. I suppose you have received my pictures before this time, what do you think of them. Do I look natural with whiskers?

What shall I do—try to come home this fall or stop longer? Will my friends find fault if I resign? I don ‘t wish to disgrace you Lydia or have it said that I was not willing to serve my country in her hour of trial.

I think I have done something for my country although it has been done quietly and without exposure to the field of battle. I think the drilling of a regiment is a small item especially when everybody was crying out against undisciplined men…

My regiment is in pretty good condition but not so prompt as when under my immediate command. Col. Murray tries to but he has not quite vim enough to make things shine, but this you need not speak of…

I suppose some would be glad to have promoted or resign or something else so there might be a chance for them, but all is pleasant as yet and I hope it will continue so.

A thousand and one kisses for the boy and ditto for yourself…Isaac”

Excellent collectible. Solid letter home from the Colonel of the 15th Maine Infantry. In protective sleeve. [JP] [ph:L]

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