The Colonel of the 5th Maine Volunteers Writes to the Parents of One of the Men he has Just Lost in Battle: Sergt. Washington F. Brown of Co. I Killed in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Va. “MANY TEARS HAS TRICKLED DOWN MY CHEEK SINCE I COMMENCED THIS LETTER.” – Col. Clark Edwards Describes Going with the 5th Maine Chaplain to Comfort the Wounded and Dying… Truly Amazing Content!
The collection of Col. Clark Edwards letters that we purchased many years ago have found their way into the hands of lucky collectors across America. For our personal collection we saved only a few of the very best. What we are offering is one of the finest. Edwards wrote long letters to his wife several times a week. He was so touched by the letter that he wrote to the parents of one of his friends from Bethel, Maine that he wanted to share it with his wife. THIS LETTER WAS NO DOUBT THE ONE THAT CLARK FIRST CONSTRUCTED… YOU CAN SEE THE INKBLOTS ON IT FROM HIS TEARS AS HE WROTE IT. CLARK THEN REWROTE IT FOR THE BROWN FAMILY WITHOUT HIS CORRECTIONS. HE WANTED HIS WIFE TO KEEP THIS ORIGINAL AND SENT IT TO HER. In the heat of war, how many husbands would bother to do this? But that’s the way Clark Edwards was. He has left us with one of the most touching, heartfelt letters that we have ever read. It comes with the original envelope on which Clark wrote “Copy of Simeon Brown’s letter May 20th, ’63”.
- Head Quarters 5th Me. Vol. Camp Near W. 0. Church (May) 20th /63. Mr. Simeon Brown & Wife
- My Kind Friends, FIVE WEEKS HAVE PASSED SINCE THE DEATH OF YOUR BELOVED SON, and I have neither had time or heart to write you till now. Pardon me in neglecting it so long. My excuses are that MY HEART FAILED ME WHENEVER I ATTEMPTED TO WRITE.
- Washington has been with me for the last two years. Hardly a day but I have seen his noble form attending to his duties faithfully. He was one that was always ready to do all that was allotted him. His loss is greatly felt in his company, and I can truly say now that he is very much missed by all of the Regt.
- When I commanded the company, I always found him ready to take the most exposed or dangerous position. Whenever we had fighting to do he was always there. Not a battle or skirmish that the 5th has been engaged in but he has taken part.
- THE LAST BATTLE ON SUNDAY EVENING MAY 3RD WAS WHEN HE DONE HIS LAST FIGHTING. IT WAS THERE UNDER THE STARS & STRIPES WE LOVE SO WELL THAT HE FELL MORTALLY WOUNDED. At the time he was near the rear of the Regt. We were then some fifty rods from where we encountered the enemy.
- I did not learn he was wounded till I joined the Brigade some hundred rods or more to the rear. Then it was dark or sometime past sunset. We halted and found our Brigade. Our men were all tired out & as soon as they eat their supper, the most of them camped down for the night.
- It was here the Chaplain joined us as he had just come from the hospital from the city where we had left our poor fellows that were wounded in the morning fight.
- I then told him of our last battle and of the numbers we had lost. THE GOOD OLD CHRISTIAN LOOKED THEM OVER WHILE THE TEARS WERE STREAMING DOWN HIS FURROWED CHEEK.
- IT WAS THEN IN THE PALE LIGHT OF THE MOON WITH THE DEAD & WOUNDED LYING AROUND US THAT HE KNEELED DOWN AND OFFERED UP A PRAYER TO THE MOST HIGH AND AT THE CLOSE OF THAT NOBLE PRAYER, I COULD SEE THE TEARS GLISTENING UPON EVERY CHEEK.
- After this little service was over, the poor tired men laid down upon their arms to forget their awful loss & great trouble in sleep. Hours later then this that night as I were lightly treading among them, I COULD HEAR THE SIGHS & SOBS FROM MANY A TENDER BOSOM. They were mourning for those dead ones that had gone from them. The hours that had stood with them shoulder to shoulder on many a well fought battlefield.
- IT WAS NOW MIDNIGHT AND ORIN (WASHINGTON’S BROTHER, ORIN S. BROWN) COME & TOLD ME HE HAD SEEN WASHINGTON AND THAT HE WAS STILL ALIVE AND WANTED TO SEE ME & THE CHAPLAIN (REV. JOHN R. ADAMS) BEFORE HE DIED.
- The good old man with me went back to the battlefield, and THERE UNDER THE PIAZZA OF A LITTLE FARM HOUSE WE FOUND HIM AND TWO MORE OF OUR POOR WOUNDED MEN. He seemed very glad to see me. I took him by the hand and talked a few moments. He was in great distress. HE TOLD ME HE WANTED TO DIE TO GET OUT OF HIS AWFUL MISERY.
- I told him I thought he could not live but a few hours at most. He seemed to be ready to die. He seemed very thankful that I had come back to see him. My heart was full. I could not say but little to him.
- The Chaplain prayed with them poor fellows there in the stillness of the night. The Rebels line of battle then was within fifty rods of us so everything had to be conducted very quietly & still. If not a Rebel bullet would notify us of their nearness.
- I took two men with me to move these poor wounded men inside of our lines so our ambulances could take them away to the hospital. We placed them upon boards & carried them off our inside lines in that way. But they were not carried to the hospital until the next morning.
- I saw him on his way to the hospital as he passed but did not have a chance to speak with him. He was taken to Falmouth and there to Washington City, where I learned he died, a little more than a week time after he was wounded.
- He has now gone to the place where trials & troubles are not known. He was one of the finest soldiers in the 5th Me. Regt., always ready & willing to do his duty. Old Oxford has never lost a better soldier or one that is deserving of a better name. I do not recollect of ever hearing a profane word from him since joining the Army, and he was one of the few that stuck to that sacred and solemn pledge of never more to taste of strong drink. His good deeds will long be remembered by all of the members of this Regt.
- His life he has given to his country, and his spirit has gone to the God that gave it. He has won by exchange, worlds for the better, but few that leave so clean a record behind as he does. You doubtless mourn his great loss as a darling son and one that was as dear as life to you. But then you must see what is loss to you is gain to him. You must not lay it at heart but feel that it was so ordered by the most high. He fell nobly fighting for his country.
- Yes, fighting to sustain the freest and best government the world has ever yet known. He has given all that man can give. For the last three years he has deprived himself of all the comfort of a good home, of friends, of society, of everything that comprises happiness in this life, & at the last, he has given life itself.
- You should feel proud that you ever had such a son, and that you have given him to your country and that he fell while defending that flag which is ever dear to us. The flag that floats upon every sea and is wafted by the breezes of every clime. It is honor & glory to die in such a noble cause. His memory will be cherished by the good in future generations, while the traitors will be despised by every true patriot of our land.
- Weep not too much for him, as he has gone to the land of rest. He died let me tell you with honor stamped upon his noble brow. His memory will be kept fresh by us all. I miss him in almost every place I go, and MANY TEARS HAS TRICKLED DOWN MY CHEEK SINCE I COMMENCED THIS LETTER.
- I only have to regret that I have not done more for him. He has been one of my truest & best friends ever since the Regt. was formed. I have not told you but few of his good qualities in this. I could cover many sheets with noble & brave acts of his, but my heart is too full to write.
- I hope I may see you in a few days, as I expect to visit my family, and then I can tell you that of which I am unable to write. I only have to say that I cannot do him justice on paper. I must now bid you good bye, hoping that God will give you strength & fortitude to bear this great calamity. I know that your loss is great, but his gain is more. Yours Truly, C. S. E. (Clark S. Edwards) Col. Comdg. 5th Me. Vols.
Condition is fine. One of the most touching letters we have encountered.
#L5-20-63ME – Price $1,295