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    [Civil War]. Hamlin Family Archive of Civil War Letters comprised of fifty-eight letters spanning the years 1864 through 1866. Each letter gives a glimpse into the daily lives of Federal soldiers, both officer and enlisted, in camp and at the front as well as the emotional toll each suffers while on duty far from home.

    The majority of letters contained within are written by John M. Hamlin, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, to his wife, Jane. Beginning in January 1864, Hamlin is stationed at Fort Sumner, Maryland, where there is little action to report. In his letters he expresses his love for his wife and children and encourages them to have strength. Like many soldiers, he believed the war would soon come to an end, but by April 17, his opinion has changed: "I have thought this war would be over this summer but I do not think it will now. I see in the papers that the rebels have gained a nother [sic] victory in Tenesee [sic] they have taken Fort pillow and killed all of the troops that was stationed there which was about 800 I think there will be some hard fighting this summer and I expect we have got to go and help do it if we do we shall have a hard time of it..." His prediction proves true when, one month later, his regiment is ordered "...to go to the front..." for "...there has been some very hard fighting for the last week we have lost 45,000 men in one week [during the Wilderness Campaign] but have whiped [sic] the rebels and if we can take richmond the war will soon be over..." Stationed near Petersburg in June, he reports that "...we have been in a nother [sic] battle and through the kind hand of providence I am spared again...we made a chardge [sic] on the rebels and lost out of our regiment 650 men in 7 minutes never shall I forget them few moments..." While not wounded in battle, Hamlin finds himself in a hospital near Washington for the next year with an undiagnosed leg malady. While laid up in March 1865, he has the privilege to attend the "...inaugural of the President..." There is also good news from the front: "April 8, 1865...Richmond is taken and so is Petersburg and the most of Lees army and the rest might as well be for the can do nothing more now to amount to anything..." Lee surrendered to Grant the following day, but joy is soon tempered with despair at the sudden death of Lincoln: "April 20...We have had a sad time here the death of our president has caused many a one to weep and mourn business is all stopt [sic] here and everything is dressed in mourning...I went down to the funeral...it was the most splendid sight that I ever saw...it is estimated that there was one hundred thousand people in the City..." Hamlin was finally discharged in July 1865 and returned home to his beloved Jane. He died in 1889.

    Posted further south in Louisiana is Captain Joshua G. Hamlin, 80th Regiment United States Colored Troops, who writes to his sister on May 5, 1864: "Our Regt. is now doing guard duty along the Coast about 35 to 40 miles from New Orleans I like it tolerable well. We all supposed that we should take the field, but Gen. [Nathaniel P.] Banks has no confidence in Colored troops." Whites were skeptical of the ability of blacks to perform the duties of a soldier, but they proved the critics wrong and served with distinction throughout the war. Joshua Hamlin survived the war with a captain's commission, but in August 1865, while waiting to be mustered out of the service, he contracted typhoid and died. His body was transferred north and arrived in Boston on March 13, 1866, where it was forwarded on by Lincoln's first vice president, Hannibal Hamlin, most likely a distant relative. Included is a one page Hamlin Autograph Letter Signed "H. Hamlin," dated March 13, 1866, which finds Hamlin writing to E. W. Woodbury, in part: "The body of Capt J. G. Hamlin arrived here yesterday and was this day forwarded by express to So. Paris [Maine] as you directed in your letter. I enclose you bill of Lading, and the freight bill for thirty seven dollars which I paid, and which you will please remit to me."

    The letters are all in good condition with the exception of some age toning which is expected. A handful show some minor damage or fading to the text, but they are still wholly legible.


    Estimate: $4,000 - up.

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    Auction Dates
    December, 2012
    8th Saturday
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