NOVEMBER 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 by disease for a total of 348.

Isaac Dyer was a well educated, highly articulate correspondent and a shrew observer of men and events. In this letter—[Dated “Brazos Island / Seven Miles North of the Mouth of the Rio Grande / Nov. 6 1863—3 pp. in ink on lined paper, 9.75” x 7.75—Exhibits fold-marks, else VG]—Dyer writes his wife concerning conditions of Brazos Island. Excerpts as follow:

I suppose your worrying while I am laughing and taking things easily away down in Texas the land of ranges and rowdies. Will is it no funny that the men from the Northeast Boundary should go to protect the south Boundary.

We are on a sandy island perfectly desolate and happy as clams. You would laugh if you could see us tumbling about in the sand. There is no prospects of any fighting at present. Don’t believe we shall smell any powder. Guess the 15th will have to guard the island while the niggers build some Sand Batteries. I think it will be a healthy place here , more so than New Orleans…I think I shall be home in May [1864] so be courageous as possible…

I think the movement from here will be into the interior of the state after having secured Brownsville, which is already done probably without any fighting. Brownsville is about 25 miles up the Rio Grande in Texas and opposite Matamoros in Mexican. The land is barren around here and I am told there is not a good farm within 200 miles…

I want to go home [on leave to Maine] by way of the Mississippi River if possible. I hope to get through with my part in good shape but I don’t know what may happen. I think I have stood by the Regiment about as close as any one and shant feel as though I was running away if leave in the spring. (I guess about 4 months from now I shall try my hand. Don’t’ mention this) Think you had better stop in Boston awhile. Tell Chas. & Eleanor I think of them often. Tell Elanor I should like a piece of cream pie. Love to you & Albert.”

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

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