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Soldier’s Pocket Bible, 4th Maine Light Artillery and 16th Virginia Infantry (SOLD)

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Product Description

This is another nice item being offered, it is a Civil War Soldier’s Pocket Bible. It measures 4" x 2 1/4" x 1". This size made it easy for a soldier to carry it in his knapsack or coat pocket. (There are actually examples of these bibles which stopped bullets in battle). The title page reads "The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: Translated out of The Original Greek; and with The Former Translations Diligently Compared and Revised.” At the bottom of the page is "`NEW YORK: American Bible Society, Instituted in the year 1816", and the printing date at the bottom "1855".

On one of the blank front pages is “Edwin H. Wilson / South Keene / NH”. The Historical Data System research document that came with this bible shows that Wilson enlisted as a Private on January 14, 1862 into the Maine 4th Light Artillery. It gets interesting because it states that deserted in 1863 from a U.S. hospital. It further states that he also had service in the 16th Virginia Infantry. Very unusual going from Union to Confederate.

Bibles were distributed to Union and Confederate soldiers by the American Bible Society, in continuation of a tradition begun by the Army and Navy in 1817. The Civil War posed a real dilemma to the New York based society; continuing to distribute bibles to its auxiliaries in the Confederate states, despite its opposition to slavery. A splinter Confederate States' Bible Society was formed, but the American Bible Society continued to cross battle lines on both sides, distributing more than 3,000,000 bibles before the end of the war.

There are also some pencil notes on the blank pages and in the back is “Cavendish Vermont / Feb. 5, 1862” and “Bedford NH / Feb 7, 1863”. Obviously, this bible originated in New England and maybe young Wilson was a bounty jumper because of the several Northern states mentioned, and maybe the authorities were catching up with him and he joined the Confederacy.

This bible is tight and complete and in great condition This is a nice example and dated “1855” is typical of the ones handed out early in the war. In my recent book "The Civil War Soldier - His Personal Items", I go into more detail on these bibles and the importance of religion to the Civil War soldier.

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