1863: Francis Julius Deemer to Tillie C. Deemer

This letter was written by Francis (“Frank”) J. Deemer (1838-1915) who enlisted In August 1862 at Scranton, PA to serve nine months in Co. K, 132nd Pennsylvania Infantry. Frank was promoted to Sergt. Major on 24 January 1863. He survived his tour of duty with the 132nd PA and went on to serve as 1st Lt. in Co. G, 187th Pennsylvania.

This letter was written just days before the Battle of Chancellorsville in which Deemer’s regiment was held in reserve for the first two days but was active at the front on May 3 and 4, losing about 50 men killed and wounded. On May 14, the regiment’s term expired and they were mustered out.

In his letter, Frank mentions receiving badges from his sister. These were probably home-made Corps Badges as were introduced by Gen. Joe Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac. The 132nd Pennsylvania was in the 3rd Brigade of the 3rd Division of the 2d Corps. Their badge would have been a blue trefoil.

A large albumen print of seven veterans of the 132nd Pennsylvania, taken between 17 & 24 May 1863 in Harrisburg while they waited to be mustered out of the service. The soldier at bottom left has 132 affixed to the chinstrap of his forge cap as well as a first issue Second Corps badge on top. The soldier at bottom right has a Co. K letter on the top of his forge cap. Presumably all seven soldiers were members of Co. K (Scranton Guards) who were recruited in the Borough of Scranton in the late summer of 1862. The 132nd Pennsylvania was a nine-month regiment that saw heavy combat in three major engagements as part of the Second Corps: Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Michael Passero Collection.


Camp near Falmouth, Virginia
April 15th 1863

Dear Sister,

I received yours with the badges enclosed yesterday. One I kept for myself; the other I gave to Hix Jay. We are both thankful for them.

I have no time to write much now as we expect to march tomorrow morning, Where we are going to I cannot tell—perhaps to Richmond. Before we get there, however, we will have to do some pretty hard fighting. About 15 or 20,000 cavalry left the army early yesterday morning and went up the river. They no doubt intend to make a crossing and assisted with the infantry &c. try to turn the Rebels left. We are left to cross the river and drive the Rebs in front.

“Should we cross here, we will lose a great many men as the Rebs have rifle pits and breastworks that extend for miles back into the country. I hope o get through it all safe and do not think of getting killed.”

—Frank Deemer, Co. K, 132nd Pennsylvania, 15 April 1863

This will be a dangerous as well as a hard task to perform but I think we are equal to it. Should we cross here, we will lose a great many men as the Rebs have rifle pits and breastworks that extend for miles back into the country. I hope to get through it all safe and do not think of getting killed.

You appear to have changed your opinion about Emma Goby. What is your reason for it? You also ask me whether or not I’m engaged. I can’t tell you just now but will say that I am not engaged to Emma. That was canceled some time ago. I hope she has been and always will be as happy as I have since then. I received a letter from her more that six weeks ago and to judge from the tenor of it, I would think she was not as well in mind as she might be. I did not answer it for which I’m very sorry. If you see her, tell her that I’ve had scarcely any time to write and that she must excuse me for neglecting to answer her letter. She has an old silver dollar of mine which I wish you would get and keep for me. I gave to her almost five years ago to keep for me.

I answered John’s letter last week but not Mother’s and do not think I will have time previous to our move but will write the first opportunity.

With love to all, I remain your affectionate brother, — Frank

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