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  • North Anna
  • Andersonville
  • Grave of Joseph Miller

Letter from a Massachusetts soldier, died at Andersonville Prison

$225.00

Product Description

This is a rare piece which came from the family of Joseph Miller and was part of the family documents. It is a letter dated May 3, 1863 that Joseph sent to his sister. 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 reenlisted and mustered into the 57th Massachusetts Infantry as a sergeant.

The 57th Massachusetts Infantry was raised as a Veteran Regiment. The majority of its members must have had at least nine months service in some other unit. It was recruited at Camp Wool, Worcester, MA, in the fall and winter of 1863, and William Francis Bartlett, had who been a captain in the 20th Regiment and colonel of the 49th, and had been twice severely wounded in action, was commissioned colonel. On the morning of May 6, 1864, they were sent to support General Hancock’s 2nd Corps along the Plank road near the Wilderness Battlefield. The severe contest that followed cost the 57th with 47 killed, 161 wounded, and 43 missing. Among the killed were Captain Gird and Lieutenant Childs, and among the wounded was Colonel Bartlett, who was soon after promoted to brigadier general and never returned to the command of the regiment.

Under Lieut. Colonel Chandler, the 57th joined in the movement to Spotsylvania. Here on May 12th, it was engaged not far from Spotsylvania Court House, losing 13 killed, 55 wounded, and four missing. In the assault on the 18th, it suffered a further loss of three killed and 14 wounded. Moving with the army to the North Anna River, the 57th crossed near Quarles' Mill, then advanced down the river in an attempt to clear the crossing at Ox Ford. Here it was outflanked and driven back with a loss of 10 killed, 13 wounded, and 14 missing, among the killed being Lieut. Colonel Chandler. Captain Tucker now took command of the regiment. It was during this action on May 24 that Sergeant Miller was captured.

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 dysentery. 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 two separate pages, each folded as to become eight pages of writing. It is very readable with excellent penmanship. He tells his sister about his unit’s movements around the Newbern, NC area, and the cold and rainy conditions. He said he was sick at one time with a cold and coughing. However, he does say that it is “all for our glorious old flag”.

It is ironic that Miller fulfilled his military duty by serving with the 46th Massachusetts, but still went ahead and reenlisted in the 57th – this would end up costing him his life. It comes in the protective hard plastic display sleeve. The letter has been transcribed with that copy included. Also, Miller’s record from the Historical Data Systems will be included.

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0517211
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