Culp's Hill from East Cemetery Hill, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, ca. 1865
Item 5222 info
Maine Historical Society
Meshach P. Larry (1835-1864), a native of Windham, worked as blacksmith. He was 29 when he mustered into Co. H of the 17th Maine Regiment as a private on August 18, 1862.
Larry wrote frequently to his sister, Phebe, and the correspondence presented here is part of a collection of letters that began just after he joined the 17th Maine.
The last letter is dated just before he went missing at the Battle of the Wilderness. He was last seen on May 6, 1864.
The 17th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment was formed on August 7, 1862 and spent three years fighting in the Civil War (1861-1865).
The 17th Maine fought in more than 20 engagements, including Gettysburg, and sustained the greatest battle fatalities of any other Maine infantry regiment.
About 1,371 men were enrolled in the 17th Maine; 207 were killed, 552 wounded, 163 died due to disease or illness, and 31 were imprisoned by the Confederate Army.
Meshach P. Larry on events of the Battle of Fredericksburg , Dec. 18, 1862
Item 5504 info
Maine Historical Society
Writing on December 18, 1862 to his sister Phebe in Windham, Larry describes the Battle of Fredericksburg:
"We crosed the Raphanoc last saturday about noon and
ameidatly went on to the field of battle the shot and shell wised thick and fast and the crack of musketry and the roar of artilery was terific."
He added that Gen. Berry was "cool as a cucumber and our oficers done them selves credit."
Yet he was unsure that the war was being well fought.
He concluded, "it is rather cold and I am rather blue. Can not tell what we have ben about untill we get the papers but if we have won a victory do not show in defeat."
In this letter written from Camp Pitcher to his sister Phebe, Meshach P. Larry writes candidly about his opinion of Union leadership.
Commenting on the Battle of Fredericksburg, which he described in the last letter, he writes, "it apears we got wiped bad in the last fight," adding that it is clear the Confederates could "wip five of us to their one."
Larry writes, "how can there be sucsess when the whole war is managed for the benefits of the Managers."
Writing to his sister Phebe, Larry describes a soldier who died of illness and the difficulty of getting his body returned to Maine.
He comments on a skirmish with Confederate cavalry and the "unpleasent sight of the shooting of a deserter" near Fairfax Station, Virginia.
Larry wrote, "he had deserted 3 times and once he went over to the enemy and told them where our trains laid so that they might capture them, he was escorted to his grave by a band of musick playing the sad strain of the death march..."
After further description of the execution, Larry adds, "life is sweet but we know we must all of us die then why not die a glourious death wen there is so many chances to do so."
He wrote of the war, "...If the Rebs do not trouble us I think the Dogs of War will be put in their kenels this winter some where in this vicinity."
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