1862 Letter - 40th Massachusetts Saw Recruit Cut Off His Own Fingers in Attempt to be Discharged

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1862 Letter - 40th Massachusetts Saw Recruit Cut Off His Own Fingers in Attempt to be Discharged

209.99

Item No. SQ8711097

Offered here is an interesting Civil War soldier letter with original cover written by Private Freeman Jones of the 40th Massachusetts Volunteers. Much of the letter was spent discussing news at home. In the postscript second sheet, however, Freeman recounted an incident he witnessed in which a new recruit purposely cut off three of his own fingers in the hopes of being discharged and sent home. Unfortunately for the man, his plan didn’t work out and he was forced to stay with his regiment, even without the fingers. The letter reads, in part:

Minors Hill Va. Dec. 28 / 62

Friend Abbie
I have been looking for a letter from you this some time, and I suppose you have been looking for the same from me. I am well and hope this will find you the same. We have got back to the Reg. again. It is just two weeks ago today since we went back. I am very well contended. more so than I expected since we went back. We are out on picket duty today. This is the second time we have been out since we went back. I like it first rate if it is not too cold. Weather today is very pleasant. The ground has not frozen any for two or 3 nights. But a week ago today we went out on picket and it was cold as the very Devil. Come to be up all night and cold as it was that night it is rather hard, but tonight we shall have [a] splendid night to be out…. I suppose by the time that I get home the business will all be down, so I think I shall stop by 3 years out, and I think that some of the rest of the folks that stayed at home will have to come out here. What do you think of that? How are all the folks out in the old city? Is there any went out there? How is your Health this winter? Does Thomas go a hunting any? Tell him if he wants to find good hunting just come out in old Va and he will find game a plenty, and I will go with him one day. What do they think [about] the war, do they think it will close up within one year? … I think we shall stay where we are this winter but we cannot tell and I do not care a Damn. I had a letter from Sam about a week ago. His health is good and he likes first rate. He thinks by the time his time is out he will hate to go hoe that will do to talk about. Has the 4th Reg. gone yet? Who has gone from Bridgewater in the nine months men? I have just come off guard so I will write a few lines more before I close. I want to send it into camp tonight so it will go out in the morning mail. There is no news to write that I can think of. I heard this morning that Burnside had crossed over the river again and was a fighting. I hope if it is so he will give them a Devil. But I think it will take more men to whip them than we think for…. We have been very busy ever since we got back to the Reg. We have been building our pig pens to live in. We have got them done and a stove in them, so we live nicely. We have been building our Captain a house to live in I should like to have you come out here and see us. You would think it looked like a city to what yours does but I should like to see your old city. I think it would seem like home but I shall see it bye and bye. But I must close my love and best wishes to you all. P.S. Please write as soon as you get this. Tell Thomas to write too. From Freeman Jones

P.S. Speaking about the new troops that have just come out I will tell you about some of them. Their was one man in one of the new Reg that has just come out, cut off three of his fingers the other day. i saw them after they was cut off. He thought he should get his discharge by doing so. But he is mistaken. He got one thousand dollar bounty for one year. Now what is such a man good for? All they cared for was the bounty. He thought he would get out of it, and go home, but he has got to stay with the Co. I have not seen any of the Mass. new Reg’t. I think they have gone some other way. Has Betsey received the money that I sent home? When you go to Boston please as them if they got my letter there that I wrote about a month ago. Freeman Jones

The letter was written upon a four-page 4 3/4” x 8” stationery sheet, plus a fifth page measuring 4 3/4” x 5 3/4”. The paper is in excellent condition. Light wear to edges and corners. Creases where originally folded. Original cover included (stamp removed).

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