JANUARY 1864 UNION SOLDIER LETTER - BREVET BRIGADIER GENERAL ISAAC DYER, 15TH MAINE INFANTRY, TO HIS WIFE

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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 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 shrewd of men and event. In this letter—Dated “Matagorda Island / Jan 3d 1864”—7 pp. in ink on lined paper, 9.75 x 7.75—{Exhibiting fold-marks and two tiny tears along horizontal fold line, light fading of first three pages. Else VG and entirely legible}—Dyer writes to his wife of life changes during his first two years of enlistment. Excerpts as follow.

“Another year is gone, how quickly it passed away. Soon my entire term of enlistment will have passed away. But how many changes have taken place in my old native town during the short two years just closed.

I expect I shall fail to meet many I used to see at church and in business places. New faces will be visible in many places & a sense of the mutability of all things earthly will steal over me. In my imagination I can see you assembled at church. I can see the different forms in various pews. I can see Mr. Bulle in the pulpit ( but alas I am reminded that he is not there. I can see the old choir and hear the strains of music for the old organ. I see you at noon hurrying from church. I see you gathering around the table at tea. I hear you say I wish Isaac was here. I see Albert as he was when I left home but I cannot imagine how he will look now. I can see Clara as she used to look skipping around the house but I suppose she too has changed greatly…Well, Lydia I don’t suppose this is very interesting to you don’t suppose this is very interesting to you and will drop the subject.

We have just had another “Norther” and the way the wind blew was a caution to Sailors. It did seem as though we should freeze to death. No protection except tent and no chance to build fires . It was tedious.

These “Northers” usually commence the night after a very warm day. Mercury will fall 25 or 30 degrees in a five hours and will blow a perfect gale. It is astonishing what effect they will on men and animals. Everything seeks shelter if it is to be found…

I don’t know how much longer we shall stay here but probably not much longer. What the program to be I not know but suppose we are to go to Houston & Galveston before long. Our force is constantly 8increasing here and we shall have quite an army soon. My Regiment is rather small but I expect to have one company that I left behind & many that were left sick in New Orleans join us soon…

I received a letter from Eleanor for which I am very grateful. These messages from home cheer me up wonderfully and help me to bear my duties with renewed pleasure…Now don’t think that because I write this that I am homesick for my courage is as good as ever…

We have passed through some mortifying scenes but not so many of danger as many other regiments. My men have never shirked any responsibility and to day are ready for any emergency. We may never make a brilliant record but still we have done promptly was asked of us. Many have died [of disease] and quite a number have been discharged for disability caused by exposed to the miasma from the swamps of Louisiana…

O that I was more grateful for all the blessings I have enjoyed. I feel my unworthiness and am ready to exclaim, Can it be possible that I shall ever enjoy the blessings prepared for those who are to have it said to them “well done good and faithful servants”…”

Solid collectible. Heartful letter home by the admirable Colonel of the 15th Maine.  [JP] [ph:L]

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