This letter was written by 23 year-old Pvt. Henry Harrison Hartshorn (1840-1889) of Company D, 19th Maine Infantry. Henry enlisted in August 1862 and was wounded in the knee on 3 July 1863 at Gettysburg while fighting with his regiment as they helped to repulse Pickett’s Charge near the copse of trees on Cemetery Ridge.
Henry was the son of Benjamin Hartshorn (1800-1884) and Ann Stevens (1809-18xx) of Poors Mills, near Belfast, Waldo County, Maine. He was married to Sophia W. Wentworth (1844-1936) in August 1870.
He wrote the letter to his brother John A. Hartshorn (b. 1850). He tells his brother that Grant’s army has crossed the Rapidan and engaged Lee’s army in the Wilderness, putting “Old Lee” into a trap.
Addressed to Mr. John A. Hartshorn, Poors Mills, Belfast, Maine
Fairfax Court House [Virginia]
May 8th, 1864
Dear Brother John,
As I have a few leisure moments, I will improve them by writing a few lines to you to let you know about my health which is very good at the present time and I hope that these few lines will find you enjoying the same great blessing of good health.
We arrived here safe at last and I guess that we shall stay here a spell now. We relieved some old troops that has been here a good while and they have gone into the field and we are doing picket duty now here but we are in as much danger as we should be out in the field for the Rebel guerrillas are shooting our men off most every night. But we will soon drive them out of this, I hope.
It is a very nice place where we are and I like [it] very much. But we are having very pleasant weather out here now and it is awful warm — warmer than ever you see it therein haying time and I wish I was further North. And to tell you the truth, I wish I was to home in one of them forts and I wish that someone would get me transferred home there — and they could if they would try now. I am in the First Battalion of the Invalid Corps. I am not fit to march and carry a knapsack, but I shall have to if I don’t get transferred home there. I hope that William Atkerson [Atkinson?] will get me transferred home there. I hope I shall get a letter from him soon. I think that there is one in Philadelphia for me from him.
The army started on the march last Tuesday morning across the Rapidan and the news was that they had a hard battle yesterday and we heard heavy cannonading last night and they said that they put the rebels all on the flight and I guess that old Lee has got into a trap that he can’t get out right away and I hope that it is so, don’t you John?
Give my love to all the folks and to Sophia and kiss her for me and tell me all about her, won’t you John. If she has got any fellows and if her and Rich goes on as they have done all this spring. Tell me all, won’t you? And tell me what Rich is doing nowadays. And tell me all the news.
I will close now by wishing you good night. Write as soon as you get this, John, won’t you?
From your brother, — Henry H. Hartshorn