1864 Letter - 16th Maine Sergeant in the "Breastworks Near Petersburg"

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1864 Letter - 16th Maine Sergeant in the "Breastworks Near Petersburg"

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Item No. SQ2998331

Offered here is an interesting Civil War soldier letter written by Sergeant John H. Frain of the 16th Maine Volunteers. Frain, who became a POW at Gettysburg (paroled July 1, 1863), had survived the Overland Campaign the following spring and by the time of writing this letter on June 20, 1864, found himself filling into Union breastworks opposite Petersburg, Virginia. Just weeks after writing this letter, Frain would again become a POW at the Battle of Globe Tavern. The letter reads:

In The Breastworks
Near Petersburg Va.
June 20th 1864.
Dear Sister
I recd. a letter from you last night and as I have a chance I thought I would ans. it to day. I am all right yet but we are losing men every day. We are laying in Breastworks in sight of Petersburg and Batterys in the rear of us shelling the city. We had a capt. killed yesterday and nine or ten men killed and wounded in the Regt. and one killed to day and several wounded. We are so near the Rebs Breastworks that it is sure thing for a man to show his head he will either get a wound or killed. There was a Lieut. of another Co. comdg. our Co. since I came till yesterday and his Capt was killed and he had to go to his own Company. So I am in comd. of the Co. now. My health is good yet I stand it a great deal better than I thought I would. We do not average two hours sleep a night nor have not for eight days. I have not had my boots off for a fortnight. I could get a commission now if we had men enough in the Co. But there has been an order issued not to muster any 2d Lieut. into the service that their Co. did not number eighty men and ours does not No. but sixty-six in ours that is present and absent. There is only twenty-two men here now. They think we will get Recruited up before long then I will get it. Lieut. Thompson of Anson was wounded in the leg the day before yesterday he will probably go home as his wound is not very bad. It is through his leg about half way between the knee and hip. I will close now send me some papers Boston Journals and Maine Papers.
From your Brother
J. H. Frain

The letter is written on three pages of a standard 5" x 8" bifolium. The unused portion of pages three and four was removed at some point in the past. The paper is in good sturdy condition, not stiff, and not particularly delicate even at the folds. Two horizontal creases. Very little wear to edges and corners. Strong, clear, legible handwriting throughout.

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