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  • First Congregational Church
  • North Anna Battlefield
  • Andersonville POW Camp
  • Grave of Sergeant Miller

Letter belonging to Massachusetts soldier, died at Andersonville (SOLD)

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Product Description

This is another rare document which came from the family of Joseph Miller. It was part of his personal effects. It is a letter dated April 19, 1859 that Joseph received from the pastor of his church. It was a testimonial indicating that he was a good Christian and to be accepted as such where ever he went. No doubt that Miller took this letter with him when he went off to war. The intent with such letters was to make sure that if someone was away from their hometown, family and friends, and unexpectingly passed away, would receive a proper Christian burial.

To Whom it May Concern,

This is to certify that the bearer, Mr. Joseph Miller, publicly professed his faith in Christ in Nov. 1858 and united with the First Congregational Church in So. Hadley, Mass. (see pictures) of which he is now a member in good regular standing. As he expects to be absent from us for some months and desires Christian intercourse during his absence. he has requested a letter of introduction in any Church of Christ with which he may wish to commence, and we therefore affectionately recommend him to the occasional communion ……. of any who love our Lord Jesus Christ. By the consistency of his conduct and his …. to …. from Christian duties he has commended himself to our confidence and it is with earnest prayer and hope that wherever he goes and whatever circumstances he may be placed, he may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things that I cordially put into his hand this testimonial.   Hiram Mead / Pastor of First Cong. Church / So Hadley, Mass. / April 19, 1859

Twenty-seven-year-old Miller, from Northampton, Massachusetts, enlisted on September 19, 1862 in the 46th Massachusetts Infantry as a private. He mustered out on July 29, 1863. On February 18, 1864 he mustered into the 57th Massachusetts Infantry as a sergeant. Three months later on May 24, during the Battle of North Anna, Virginia, he was captured during the fighting.

The Battle of North Anna was fought May 23–26, 1864, as part of General Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign against General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. It consisted of a series of small actions near the North Anna River in central Virginia, rather than a general engagement between the armies. The individual actions are sometimes separately known as: Telegraph Road Bridge and Jericho Mills (for actions on May 23); Ox Ford, Quarles Mill, and Hanover Junction (May 24). The 57th suffered many casualties at this battle with 12 killed, 20 wounded and 10 captured, including Miller.

Sergeant Miller was taken to the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia. With the brutal and unsanitary conditions at the camp, Joseph died on July 27, 1864 from acute diarrhea. Overall, disease caused twice as many deaths as battle injuries during the Civil War. He was buried at Andersonville in grave #4050 (see pictures).

This letter is one-page folded with some separations on some of the folds. It is very readable with the excellent penmanship. It comes in the protective hard plastic display sleeve. Miller’s record from the Historical Data Systems will be included.

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