The following letters were written by Isaac Dyer (1820-1913) while serving as the Colonel of the 15th Maine Infantry. He entered the service as the Lt. Colonel of his regiment on 17 December 1862 and the following year, after the regiment’s Colonel resigned in disgrace, Dyer was promoted to Colonel and led his men in operations in Louisiana and Texas, and in Virginia in 1864. He was brevetted Brigadier General, US Volunteers on March 13, 1865 for “meritorious services,” and was honorably mustered out on 13 September 1865.
Isaac was married to Lydia Emery in 1851. Their son Albert, mentioned in this letter, was born in 1856. Prior to the war, Isaac was a druggist in Skowhegan, Somerset county, Maine.
It’s humorous to find the Colonel writing details of troop strength and movements to his wife while acknowledging at the same time that this information is forbidden to be communicated.
Headquarters, 15th Maine Volunteers
August 12, 1863
My Dear Wife,
I was glad to receive a letter from [you] of July 27 & 27. It seems as though you were about a 1,000 miles nearer than you have been for the last 8 months. Now if you will only write every week and be sure and put the letter in the office as soon as written, I shall get one every week.
Maj. Drew will start for Main tomorrow after conscripts. I have to stay by the craft. Col. Murray has gone home on a furlough so I am along in my glory. Perhaps I may get a chance some day. My health is very good and courage as usual. I have good quarters in a nice large two-story house close by the river. Plenty of trees and shrubbery and flowers. The weather is pretty warm but we are getting along very well indeed. Some few are troubled with chills and fever.
I am in hopes I shall be allowed to come home this fall but it will be uncertain. I want you and George to do the best you can and settle up all accounts you can. But I don’t want you to worry about matters at all. There is enough to pay all bills and something for a wet day. I want you to dress first rate and go where you please. I don’t believe anybody will thank you for borrowing any trouble. Be careful, be courageous, be spunky.
Maj. Drew and Lady will call and see you so you must put on the best of smiles and that new dress that you are going to get for my benefit.
Well, hoes does Master Albert and his dog Victor get along? Which gets tired first? How tall is Albert? Is he 8 years old this fall or 7? I have forgotten. I expect he is a great boy and can read smart. Can’t he write me a letter? Can he print letters?
But the post master is waiting for this letter and I must close. Be a good girl and keep up the best of courage. I sold a horse for 300. The man could not raise the money as he expected so I had to take him back. I hope to save something by my horses yet. I have been pretty lucky in that direction. Kisses for you and Albert. Goodbye, — Isaac
My regards to my friends.
New Orleans [Louisiana]
September 4, 1863
My Dear Wife,
I have just returned from Carrollton from witnessing a review of the 13th Army Corps (Gen. Grant’s). I assure you, it was a big sight. (There [were] 47 regiments infantry, 15 batteries, and a lot of cavalry, but this you must not mention as it is against regulations).
Look out for big news in a few weeks. The 9th Connecticut, 12th, 13th, and 15th Maine, and 1st Louisiana are to take charge of the City of New Orleans and suburbs, so we shan’t see much fighting at present. (Now, while I am writing, steamboats loaded with soldiers are pushing down by. This also contraband).
I am I hopes we shall all be allowed to go home by next spring for it looks as though the rebels would be cleaned out this fall.
Well we all want to see the end of this business for our New England has attractions superior to the Sunny South. We love civilization to barbarism and the luxuries of the North are far superior to the South.
I have not time to write much now. I suppose you have seen May Drew before this time. I have received the box of boots and box of pants all right. All has been received except the box lost on the Marion.
Love tall. Kiss Albert. — Isaac