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Sale 38 Lot 135

CIVIL WAR DIARY OF SGT. JOHN FRAIN Superb content Civil War diary of 1st Sgt. John H. Frain of Co. G, 16th Maine Infantry, covering the period from July 28, 1862 (his date of enlistment) until Mar. 8, 1865, about 140pp. 8vo. with leather covers, with virtually the entire diary either describing his participation in some of the most important battles of the conflict, including Gettysburg, or his incarceration as a prisoner of war enduring the harshest of conditions. In small part: "...Enlisted with Capt. Wm Holbrook at East Madison, Me...crossed the battle field of Antietam...It was a horrible looking sight on the field as the dead all lay where the fell...it rained so we had to stand up beside the trees all night...[Fredericksburg] marched at 4 1/2 for the river. They com[menced] shelling the city about this time...It is one continual roar of artillery and musketry. They are laying the pontoon bridges. There is several building burning in the city...layed on our arms all night...[Dec. 13] moved one mile toward the front. Alonzo Smith of my Co. was wounded going up by a piece of shell...we got a position in a ditch by the Turnpike where we lay till 1 PM...we were ordered to charge on our foes who were concealed in their rifle pits. We charged and took it at the point of the bayonet but with a severe loss to us. Our loss in the Regt. Killed and wounded was about three hundred...we were in just two hours...we had to go out on the field and lug off the wounded. Our pickets and Rebs within 500 yds of each other...heavy cannonading in the morning...we got a list of the killed & wounded in our company, 22 wounded and 4 killed...it rained all day...took twenty horses to haul one gun...visited the 17th, 20th & 19th Me. Regts...went down to the Potomac and was reviewed by Abraham Lincoln & Staff. It was well worth going to see...moved to the river about 1/2 mile below Fredericksburg...we have two pontoons down...marched through the woods to Chancellorsville...The Rebs made a charge about the time we got there it was the heaviest musket firing I ever heard. We met lots of wounded coming out towards the river. We had to go on picket out towards the front as soon as we got there...went to building breastworks...the loss is very heavy on both sides...we extended our line as skirmishers...all our works are abandoned and our forces withdrew across the river...Col. Root got us a ration of whiskey...Our Corps the 1st was reviewed by Gen. Reynolds...we crossed a portion of the old battle field of Bull Run and went in and bathed at Bull Run Creek...Gen. George R. Paul took command of our Brig...crossed the Monocacy River and passed through Adams Town...It is reported the Rebs are at Gettysburg eight miles from here...[July 1] Marched at 8 AM for Gettysburg where we arrived about noon. The battle com. about the time we got there. We are moved round several times...we got a position behind a fence and there we give it to them the best we know how. We then advanced farther out when the first thing we see they were flanking us when we come to retreat firing as we fall back. Every fence and tree we come to we would stop and give it to them. The next thing we know we were completely surrounded and all prisoners...I do not think a dozen men escaped...We were immediately taken to the rear [the Lutheran Seminary]...[July 2] moved down toward the city...the battle was renewed about noon and raged very hard...our names were all taken and we were going to be paroled but they recd order from Gen. Halleck that he would not accept any paroles given on the field...we were taken by the 53rd N.C. Regt. Col. Lewis...[July 3] The come to parole the prisoners this morning...I chose going to Richmond rather than be put in the ranks...While I write the heaviest cannonading I ever heard is going on about one mile in front of us...there was an attempt made by the Rebs to break through our lines but they did not succeed...[July 4] We went back about two miles...started in the direction of the Potomac...an awful day to march...the mud was about to our knees...I had to go barefooted..." Frain continues, describing the long march to his imprisonment: "...The road was so blockaded with teams and troops...passed through Fairfield and up to the Blue Ridge...our rations were short enough before, but they are shorter now...we have had nothing to eat for 24 hours...I gave a $5 US note to a Reb Soldier for a spider cake...towed us across in pontoon boats...started for Winchester without any rations...I am so weak I can hardly walk...". After marching 175 miles since his capture, Frain is searched and then loaded onto a freight car for Richmond. On arrival he is lodged in a tobacco warehouse near the infamous Libby Prison. He continues: "...We drew a 1/4 of a loaf of bread & small piece of meat. While we were eating it the guard shot one of our men for looking out the window...we were all taken over to Belle Island...we were all paraded as soon as we got there...we have now 29 hundred on the island...we are getting very weak laying in our tents...there is only two acres in it [the camp] and there is over Four Thousand men on it...our Gov't has refused to exchange any more Prisoners...the guard have just shot one of the men dead...he did not know the rules and sat upon the bank...they rallied on the tent I was in last night and stole everything I had. I have not as much as a spoon to eat with...The Rebs have got six of our boys Bucked & Gagged for cutting up some tent pieces to lay on...Two or three men chilled to death last night laying outdoors...today weight 133 lbs., last winter I weighted 175 lbs...our squad was called out and [paroled]...we cannot get out without a pass...". Frain's service was far from complete. After a well-deserved furlough he returned to service on May 15, 1864 and soon found himself in entrenchments before Petersburg, sporadically engaging with the enemy. He continues: "...The Rebs got range of us...one man killed not ten ft. from me...worked all afternoon building breastworks...Rebs attempted to break our lines but the skirmishers kept them off...about twenty of our Regt. Were taken prisoner...they said the Rebs were flanking us and we were ordered to retreat...Butler's Colored troops took a line of breastworks...we are within two miles of Petersburg...the ground is just covered with ours and Rebel dead and wounded...we are now within one hundred yards of the Rail Road...got orders to run for sweet life for it which we did and gained it...Reb pickets have got a good range on us, has been about a doz. wounded...a man is sure to get killed or wounded if he shows his head...sharpshooters firing continually...there was two men hung...for committing a rape on a woman...they hoped their deaths would be a warning to others...three forts that had been undermined by our folks were blown up and the Negroes charged in and took 700 prisoners...the Rebs charged and broke our lines and came in through and got round in our rear and took almost the entire Division prisoners. We were run off...to Petersburg...we are now laying here waiting for the cars to take us to Richmond and thence to Georgia...taken down and put in the Libby Prison and searched...taken over to Belle Island...one of our men killed last night and two wounded trying to escape by swimming the river...there is twelve months pay due me today. I would be glad if I had part of it here to buy bread with...there is now on the island 5700 men many of them with nothing to wear but their shirt and drawers...I have got so hungry that I have sold my watch...the Rebs take a great many of our men...taking the oath of allegiance to the Confederate Government...they have commenced to send [prisoners] to Georgia...The next squad will take me in...we started for Danville Va. with sixty of us in a boxcar so thick that we could neither sit nor lie...changed cars for Salsbury NC...ran up to Greensboro NC...the inhabitants are pretty good Union folks and gave us considerable to eat. I sold a gold pen for twenty dollars confederate...we were packed in a box car 100 in a car...we arrd. At Salisbury and were taken up to the prisoners camp...Since I have been here three or four men have died every night...there are 8,000 prisoners here now...eight men in the Dead House this morning...we had to keep running all day to keep from freezing...23 men died last night...Our boys made an attempt to break the Guard and escape today and made a failure of it and about fifteen got killed...they cut our rations down one half...1,400 of our men died since we came here...they are starving us to make us enlist...there has been a gang of Cut Throats...the men in camp organized a Vigilance Committee...they will hang some of them...The no. of deaths since Oct. 8 has reached 4,756 that is one half of the no. in here...44 Negroes came in from Andersonville...started for Greensborough distant 55 miles...arrived at Goldsboro...As soon as we got there we were taken down and paroled...it looked good to see the old flag once more...". Segments of Frain's diary appear to have been written at one time, very possibly having been transcribed either from an earlier diary or from notes. However, Frain's handwriting shows that the majority of the diary is clearly written on a day-to-day basis, making the entire effort a war-date endeavor. We believe that at some time, apparently during his first stay in a parole camp, Frain came into possession of this blank diary and found the time to transcribe his earlier notes into it. Frankly, this is the finest content diary we've ever encountered - a soldier who fought at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Petersburg, is captured twice and is kept under horrific conditions, and his well-written diary survives to tell his story.
Estimate $ 4,000-5,000

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