OCTOBER 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 Lydia 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. His 15th Maine served in 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 343 wounded for a total of 348.

Isaac Dyer was a well-educated, highly articulate correspondent and a shrewd observer of events and men. In this letter—[Dated “On board State Transport/ Steamer Clinton / Mouth of the Passes Oct. 26 1863”—2 pp. in ink on lined paper, 8 x 12.5”—Exhibiting fold-marks, else VG]—Dyer writes from the Steamer Clinton of the expedition ahead, the prospect of action, and thoughts of home. Excerpts as follow:

“I suppose you are worrying about me at a terrible rate and think I am killed and all that sort of thing, etc.

I am doing well except I have a slight cold. I am in charge of two regiments, the 13 & 15th Maine on board this steamer with 50 Artillery men and 80 horses.

It has been cold and rainy and has been somewhat uncomfortable for the men. The expedition has been delayed two days for some cause to me unknown. The Steamer Morning Star passed by us yesterday afternoon with a letter from you which I shall probably miss. I don’t know where we are going but I guess it Matagorda Texas.

I may have Brigade but am not certain yet, and am not very anxious to assume too much responsibility. I had to leave a great many of my men in New Orleans on account of the chills and fever.

The place we are going to is not fortified and will probably be taken without much trouble. We are in the 1st Brigade, 2 Division Brig. Gen. Vandiver Commandg. Maj. Gen. Dana commands the Division…

Well Lydia, what shall I say? Perhaps you wish to know how I feel with the prospect of a battle just ahead of me? In reply I would say I am not disheartened or in any way discouraged. I enlisted to fight and expect to do it. All the men are in good spirits. If we get safely through this winter I shall come home early in the spring if possible I want to come home with a clean record if possible. Be of good courage and cheerful. I hope to see you before long and enjoy the blessing home. Home, how cheering the word…

No glory has any value to me like the glory of home and friends. Don’t infer from this that I have the blues for I do not. I am a cheerful and happy man. More so I fear than you and my courage is always good.

Tell Albert that I think of him often and hope he will always be a good boy…Good Bye/ Isaac / Remember me to my friends”

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

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