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1st Maine Cavalry, 1863

This slideshow contains 35 items
1
Pvt. John P. Sheahan on progress of war, Washington, D.C., 1863

Pvt. John P. Sheahan on progress of war, Washington, D.C., 1863

Item 97590 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John P. Sheahan, Co. K, 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote to his father in Dennysville in October 1863 that he was well and in good spirits, but commented that he was less sure Union victory was close at hand than he had been.

Sheahan had been transferred to a dismounted camp in Washington and said he was now corporal of the guard and liked being at the camp better than he thought he would. He especially liked having a cook. He said he dreaded cooking more than he did "Rebs," adding, "tho' they are save as the devil."

He wrote, "Oh what sights I have seen upon the field of battle" and went on to describe some of the horrors.

He expressed hope he could get a commission as a 2nd lieutenant and that his younger brothers would not have to fight in the war. His older brother, William, was a sergeant in the 6th Maine Infantry and was killed about a month after this letter was written.


2
John Sheahan letter from Belle Plain, Virginia, 1863

John Sheahan letter from Belle Plain, Virginia, 1863

Item 9283 info
Maine Historical Society

John Sheahan, a Civil War soldier, wrote to his father in Dennysville, Jan. 16, 1863. Though Sheahan dated this letter 1862, he wrote it in 1863 from a camp near Belle Plain, Virginia.


3
Letter from John Sheahan to his father, Jan. 29, 1863

Letter from John Sheahan to his father, Jan. 29, 1863

Item 9284 info
Maine Historical Society

Letter from John Sheahan, a Civil War soldier, to his father in Dennysville, Jan. 29, 1863, about military camp life and General Burnside.


4
Pvt. John Sheahan on failure of Army of Potomac, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on failure of Army of Potomac, Virginia, 1863

Item 97573 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of Dennysville, who enlisted in Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry on August 23, 1862, described the Army of the Potomac, of which his regiment was a part, as an "utter failure."

In a letter in February 1863 to his father and sister, he said that the soldiers were "heart sick of this war" and they believed it was time to acknowledge the Confederacy.

He wondered what the Army of the Potomac would do in the spring when 50,000 nine-month soldiers went home.

He also commented that the 6th Maine, to which his older brother, William, belonged, had moved its camp farther away, making it harder to see his brother.


5
John Sheahan on talks with Rebels, Virginia, 1863

John Sheahan on talks with Rebels, Virginia, 1863

Item 61964 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John P. Sheahan (1842-1894) described his conversations with Rebel soldiers in a letter to his parents in Dennysville in February 1863.

Sheahan, of the 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote that he had had a lot picket duty and conversed with Rebel soldiers, some of whom offered him a Southern newspaper. The soldiers tried to send the paper across the Potomac River so he could read them, but he never got the papers.

"The Rebels are sociable as you please," he wrote.


6
Pvt. John Sheahan on Union chances, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on Union chances, Virginia, 1863

Item 61966 info
Maine Historical Society

In camp at Bell Plain, Virginia, nearly three months after the Union loss at nearby Fredericksburg, Pvt. John P. Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry asked his father in a letter what he thought of the draft and whether the war would end by the next fall.

Shehan answered his own question, "I think not. The south are determined to have their Independence and they will have it and no soldier in the Army of the Potomac doubts but they will get it."

He said the argument that the Confederacy did not have enough money and supplies to win was not convincing, comparing the South to the American Patriots during the Revolution.


7
Pvt. John Sheahan on 'honorable peace,' Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on 'honorable peace,' Virginia, 1863

Item 97574 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of Dennysville, a member of Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote to his parents about being homesick and the hard life of a soldier.

He wrote that he was willing to endure as a soldier to help ensure an "honorable peace" and that when he returned after the war he could "hold up my head and say that I have done my duty."


8
Pvt. John Sheahan requests for pepper, cod, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan requests for pepper, cod, Virginia, 1863

Item 97575 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of Co. K, 1st Maine Cavalry, on picket duty near Fredericksburg, Virginia, wrote to his parents in Dennysville, asking them to be sure his older brother, Sgt. William Sheahan of the 6th Maine, who was at home on furlough, brought John a pound of pepper, Woodstock pipes, and a dried cod as large as he could carry.

The two regiments were camped fairly close to one another and the brothers saw each other as often as they could.

William Sheahan was killed later that year at Rappahannock.


9
Pvt. John Sheahan on bad morale for Union, Rebels, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on bad morale for Union, Rebels, Virginia, 1863

Item 97577 info
Maine Historical Society

Writing to his father in Dennysville, Pvt. John P. Sheahan of Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry, reported on low morale in the Union forces, as he had done earlier in the winter.

Sheahan said "traitors" in the North who do not support the war effort "do more injury to our cause than Jeff Davis and all his raged army."

He also said many rebel soldiers were crossing the river and pledging loyalty to the Union. The Confederates were low on ammunition, and had nothing to eat or wear, he wrote, and got many of their clothes from dead Union soldiers.


10
Pvt. John Sheahan on hatred of slavery, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on hatred of slavery, Virginia, 1863

Item 97578 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan, Co. K, 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote to his father in Dennysville reiterating themes of many of his letters during the winter of 1863: soldiers were discouraged and the war was dull.

He wrote about rebels deserting the Confederate army in large numbers. Rebel soldiers reported they had been on half rations -- a half pint of flour and a quarter pound of bacon per day. He said no two rebel uniforms looked alike, most were ragged, and the soldiers suffering with the cold weather.

In addition, Sheahan wrote that if Dennysville people had seen what he had, it would "make their blood run cold." He said he hated slavery before the war, but now that he had seen it first hand, his hatred had doubled.


11
Pvt. John P. Sheahan on unknown future, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John P. Sheahan on unknown future, Virginia, 1863

Item 97579 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Parris Sheahan of Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father in Dennysville that his regiment was changing locations. They had spent the winter near Fredericksburg and near the 6th Maine, in which is brother William was a soldier.

Sheahan began a sentence, "If you never get another letter from me," and then gave his father directions for dealing with letters from "Miss Hill." Sheahan wrote, "She has caused me to be a better man & a braver soldier and a more obedient son..."

He uncharacteristically signed his letter "Adieu for a while."


12
Pvt. John Sheahan on 'great raid,' Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on 'great raid,' Virginia, 1863

Item 97580 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father in Dennysville about the "great raid" that the regiment made. He wrote that they were near Richmond and tore up rail lines and destroyed "many important bridges."

Sheahan added that "the greatest fun" was being mistaken for Confederate soldiers.

He reported that his heath and spirits had improved since leaving winter quarters. "I think that I like soldiering better than I ever have before," he wrote.


13
Pvt. John Sheahan letter on picket duty, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan letter on picket duty, Virginia, 1863

Item 97581 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John P. Sheahan of Dennysville, serving in Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote to his father about his regiment's activity on picket duty at Potomac Creek.

He wrote that the guerrillas were "thick as black flies" and Union soldiers couldn't go far outside the picket line without getting shot or being taken prisoner.

He also reported having seen his older brother, William, a sergeant in the 6th Maine Infantry.

Sheahan enclosed a piece of army telegraph wire in his letter. He wrote, "You will see them laying all along the ground in a fight and on the the trees, keep it for a curiosity."


14
John Sheahan on skirmish with Rebels, Virginia, 1863

John Sheahan on skirmish with Rebels, Virginia, 1863

Item 61968 info
Maine Historical Society

On June 1, 1863, Pvt. John P. Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his parents in Dennysville to tell them about Confederate soldiers who burned a Union train and captured the Union mail. He said the cavalry retaliated within 15 minutes and took "all their artillery and a lot of prisoners and recaptured the mail."

Sheahan praised the area around Warrenton Junction, Virginia, and noted that if he wanted to buy a farm, it would be a good place to do so.

He also expressed his desire for an "honorable peace."


15
Pvt. John P. Sheahan on hopes for peace, victory, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John P. Sheahan on hopes for peace, victory, Virginia, 1863

Item 97582 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John P. Sheahan, who earlier in 1863 had written home to his family in Dennysville about low morale in the army and probable Confederate victory, wrote to his brother that he was eager for the army to move and for the end of the war.

Sheahan, in Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalary, wrote that it would be a glorious day when peace was achieved -- and no less glorious if he lost his life in the effort.

However, he wrote, he would rather have the war continue than "give the south their independence."


16
Pvt. John Sheahan on home, death, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on home, death, Virginia, 1863

Item 97583 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan, Co. K, 1st Maine Cavalry, who was on picket duty in Warrenton Junction, Virginia, wrote to his father in Dennysville that as the sun was setting on Sunday, he thought fondly of home, and the possibility that he would be killed and never see his hometown and his "true" friends again.

He wrote that he thought God had "greater work" for him than to "help put down this wicked rebellion."

Sheahan enlisted in August 1862; the letter was written in June 1863.


17
John Sheahan on Battle of Brandy Station, 1863

John Sheahan on Battle of Brandy Station, 1863

Item 9282 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father in Dennysville, June 10, 1863 from a camp near Warrenton Junction, Virginia, describing the Battle of Brandy Station.

Sheahan called it "the great cavalry fight" and told his father it "was the most horrid thing that I ever saw dead horses and men lay strewn all over the field and the air was filled with iorn hail..."


18
John Sheahan on Battle of Middleburg, 1863

John Sheahan on Battle of Middleburg, 1863

Item 61969 info
Maine Historical Society

John Sheahan, a private in the 1st Maine Cavalry, wrote to his father in Dennysville about "a very heavy battle here yesterday."

He wrote that the company charged with 22 men and only 7 came out of the battle. The company lost most of its non-commissioned officers.

Sheahan (1842-1894) enlisted in August 1862 at age 21.


19
Sheahan description of Bull Run battlefield, 1863

Sheahan description of Bull Run battlefield, 1863

Item 61970 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry, in a letter to his father in Dennysville, described crossing the Bull Run battlefield.

"Here we saw the bones of those who had been killed in that bloody battle," he wrote. "Oh how desolate that place looks I shuddered while we were on it."

He also described the Battle of Middleburg, which he had mentioned in a previous letter. He wrote that "never has there been such hard cavalry fighting as there has been since we left the Rappahannock and what is best of all we have licked the rebs every time."


20
Letter from John Sheahan to his father, July 4, 1863

Letter from John Sheahan to his father, July 4, 1863

Item 9281 info
Maine Historical Society

John Parris Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry, on the battlefield near Gettysburg, wrote a short note to his father in Dennysville.

"We have whiped the rebels and they are on the retreat," Sheahan reported on July 4, 1863. He said he was well, then signed the letter and sent it.


21
John Sheahan note on Gettysburg victory, 1863

John Sheahan note on Gettysburg victory, 1863

Item 63345 info
Maine Historical Society

John Sheahan of the Maine 1st Cavalry Regiment wrote to his father in Dennysville from the "Battle Field near Gettysburg" on July 5, 1863. He had written his father a short note the day before to tell him of the Union victory.

Sheahan wrote, "the rebels are in a hard place and in my opinion will never go back to Virginia an organized army." He predicted the war would end soon because the Confederates had no supplies coming in. He also expected another "desperate fight" soon.


22
John Sheahan on aftermath of Gettysburg, 1863

John Sheahan on aftermath of Gettysburg, 1863

Item 63353 info
Maine Historical Society

John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote his third letter in three days to his father in Dennysville, reporting on the aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Sheahan described the Confederate retreat and the things they left behind. He said he heard Vicksburg was taken and "if so the Rebelion is ended, I pray that God may grant it."


23
Pvt. John Sheahan on possible promotion, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on possible promotion, 1863

Item 63355 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father, John, in Dennysville about the regiment's march through Pennsylvania and the fresh food they were given.

He also said he was "highly praised for my conduct in the late cavalry fights" and that he expected to be promoted.

"I did not know that I could stand fire so well I never felt so gay in my life as I did when we charged with the sabre at Brandy Station," he wrote.


24
John Sheahan from road to Harper's Ferry, 1863

John Sheahan from road to Harper's Ferry, 1863

Item 63354 info
Maine Historical Society

John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry regiment wrote to his sister in Dennysville, saying the troops were on the march to Harper's Ferry and he expected they would make a raid on Confederate ammunition. He asked for some magazines and closed, "don't think strange if you dont hear from me for a month."

Sheahan was 21 when he enlisted in Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry in August 1862. He was a private.


25
Pvt. John Sheahan on cavalry battles, Virginia, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on cavalry battles, Virginia, 1863

Item 97584 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father in Dennysville about a battle at Shepherdstown, Virginia, that he described as "one of the hardest fights that the cavalry has ever been in."

He said he was in the "hotest" of the fights, but was uninjured. He said a quarter of the 1st Maine was lost.

Sheahan then described the differences between cavalry and infantry battles. At the end of the letter he wrote, "The Hights of Frederciksburg are ours and the Rebel forts are leveled to the ground."


26
Pvt. John Sheahan from Catlett Station, VA, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan from Catlett Station, VA, 1863

Item 63356 info
Maine Historical Society

Writing to his father in Dennysville, Pvt. John Sheahan of Co. K of the Maine 1st Cavalry Regiment reported on the "bully times" the troops had been having. He said they found several Union ambulances filled with U.S. army blankets and ammunition left by the Confederates.

He also told his father that they had passed the encampment where his brother William was, but he was unable to stop and wanted to go see him.


27
Pvt. John Sheahan on war destruction, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on war destruction, 1863

Item 63358 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father, John, in Dennysville and commented on the destruction of Sulphur Springs, Virginia, in 1862.

Sheahan wrote, "the houses are litterally riddled with shot and shell and in many cases are burned down by fire from the exploding shells."

He also noted that his regiment had been doing a lot of picket duty and was sniped at by rebels who were not soldiers.

He added, "We are cheered by our recent victories but we should remember that victories however splendid are the price of blood, oh how many desolate homes have been made by this war, how many homes there are that ever the white winged dove of Peace cannot brighten..."


28
Pvt. John Sheahan on war losses, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on war losses, 1863

Item 63357 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father, John, in Dennysville about the "glorious" work of the army over the summer. "Many a brave boy has fallen but this must be," he wrote. "some must be victims. but I have been preserved in a wonderful manner."

He also wrote that he pitied someone who had been drafted because conscripts were "treated like dogs more than like men."


29
Pvt. John Sheahan on transfer to dismounted camp, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on transfer to dismounted camp, 1863

Item 63359 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father in Dennysville that he was being sent to the dismounted camp at Alexandria because his horse had been condemned.

He wrote that he hated to leave the front lines, but that he might be able to get a clerk's job at the War Department.

He also urged his father to try to get him a 2nd lieutenant commission in the 2nd Maine Cavalry, which would provide him more money and help him go to school.


30
Pvt. John Sheahan to mother on one year in army, Washington, D.C., 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan to mother on one year in army, Washington, D.C., 1863

Item 97592 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan, a member of Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry, who was at a dismounted camp in Washington, D.C., wrote to his mother in Dennysville, commenting that it was the first letter he had written just to her in the year since he joined the army.

He told her he had followed her advice to be a "good boy" as well as that of "Charlotte," whom he met at East Machias, where he studied at Washington Academy.

He wrote about how much Charlotte meant to him, how she helped a poor woman in East Machias, and how she was mistakenly called an "infidel."


31
Pvt. John P. Sheahan on desire for education, Washington, 1863

Pvt. John P. Sheahan on desire for education, Washington, 1863

Item 97593 info
Maine Historical Society

Writing to his father in Dennysville, Pvt. John P. Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry, noted that he had not "yet given up on the idea of an education."

Sheahan hoped to get a commission as a 2nd lieutenant in order to have enough money to "study for a long time."

He also discussed having never had a drink of alcohol while in the army -- something he viewed as a singular achievement for a soldier.


32
Pvt. John Sheahan on death of brother in war, 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan on death of brother in war, 1863

Item 63360 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry, writing from the dismounted camp in Washington, D.C., discusses the death of his brother William.

William Sheahan enlisted on July 15, 1861 in Co. F of the Maine 6th Infantry Regiment. He was 25 years old and given the rank of corporal. William Sheahan was killed on November 7, 1863 at Rappahannock Station, Virginia.


33
Pvt. John Sheahan from Washington, D.C., 1863

Pvt. John Sheahan from Washington, D.C., 1863

Item 63361 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father about his efforts to leave the "dismounted" camp in Washington and return to the front. His horse was too lame to make it back to his regiment.

Especially since Gettysburg in July 1863, Sheehan had written to his father in Dennysville about his hopes for peace and the preservation of the union.

He wrote that since England and France had declined to help them, the Rebels "say themselves they have no hope at all."


34
John Sheahan letter on brother's death, Dec. 14, 1863

John Sheahan letter on brother's death, Dec. 14, 1863

Item 9275 info
Maine Historical Society

John Sheahan wrote to his mother in Dennysville on Dec. 14, 1863 expressing grief at the death of his brother William in the war.

William Sheahan enlisted in Co. F of the 6th Infantry Regiment in July 1861 when he was 25. A corporal at enlistment, he was promoted to sergeant. He was killed at Rappahannock Station, Virginia, on Nov. 7, 1863.

His younger brother John enlisted in Co. K of the 1st Maine Cavalry in August 1862 at age 21. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the 31st Maine Infantry in March 1864.

John also included a sketch of a Russian Army officer in the letter.


35
John Sheahan on return to regiment, Virginia, 1863

John Sheahan on return to regiment, Virginia, 1863

Item 63362 info
Maine Historical Society

Pvt. John Sheahan of the 1st Maine Cavalry wrote to his father in Dennysville that he had returned to his regiment after several months at a "dismounted" camp in Washington, D.C., because his horse had been condemned.

Sheahan reported the the regiment made a raid into Confederate territory and burned tanneries, saddle shops, and buildings that held Confederate cavalry equipment.


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