1864: Albert C. Gammon to Elbridge Gerry Gammon

Albert Gammon gravestone

Albert C. Gammon gravestone in Maine, erected by the family

This letter was written by Corporal Albert C. Gammon (1829-1864) of Co F, 17th Maine Infantry. Albert died by suffocation when the bank of the excavation he was in collapsed while he was on picket duty near Fort Hell at Petersburg, Virginia, on 2 October 1864. He was originally buried at Fort Hell but his body was later reinterred at the Poplar Grove Cemetery in Petersburg. The Gammon family also erected a gravestone to his memory in Pikes Hill Cemetery, Norway, Oxford County, Maine.

Before joining the 17th Maine, Albert served in Co G, 1st Maine Volunteers, from May 3, 1861 to August 5, 1861. Prior to that, he resided in Norway, Maine, where he was employed as a cooper.

Another of Gammon’s letters sold in public auction in 2013 in which he described his experience at Gettysburg with the 17th Maine in the Wheatfield: “At Gettysburg we lost 127 men [in] less than 30 minutes…it was warm work there…to view the field after the fight was a horrid sight — thousands of dead and wounded men, broken guns, swords, revolvers, cannon, horses and shells. Men blown to pieces in all shapes — you cannot form an idea how it looks nor no one can unless they have seen it themselves…”

Albert wrote this letter to his cousin, Elbridge Gerry Gammon (1844-1925), the 20 year-old son of Seba and Jane (Frost) Gammon of Norway, Maine.

TRANSCRIPTION

Camp of the 17th Maine Regt.
In the field again near Stevensburg, VA
April 29, 1864

Cousin Elbridge,

I now take my pen to write a few lines to let you know that I am alive and well & hope this will find you the same. We have left our winter quarters & are in the field once more. We have not commenced a fight yet but are liable to now any day. Gen. Burnsides is at Catlett’s Station today. It is the report here that he has 55,000 men with him. It is only one day’s march from here. We are camped on a piece of plains land & can see the smoke of the rebs camp across the river.

It has been a hot day here and we have had to drill. We are going to drill with another regiment on a $2.00 dollars bet. It may come off tomorrow. We may get beat, but I can’t see it. We have got as good a name as any regiment in this army & when we come to the drilling part, we can’t be beat.

I wish I had some way to send home some clothes for when we move from here, I shan’t carry only a change of shirts & drawers & footings. I have got to throw away my boots & there is 30 pairs in our company worth here at the least $200 Dollars. They will not let us wear them on a march & we cannot carry them for God only know how far we shall have to go this summer. But I hope we shall not have to go to Pennsylvania again. It’s Richmond that we are a going to try for, but how we shall make it is to be told some other day.

It is all very quite here now. I have a dress coat and overcoat, 6 good woolen shirts, 3 pair of drawers, a pair of pants, & cap to throw away, & most every man has got more or less clothing to leave for we cannot carry them. They will be burnt so the Rebs cannot get them. Our army is well clothed.

I have no more news to write now. Tell Laura to write & all the rest for I want to hear from you all. So I must close.

Yours in haste — C. Albert Gammon
Co H, 17th Maine Vol.
2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Corps

The 17th Maine, taken just days after this letter was written.

The 17th Maine, taken just days after this letter was written. This photograph may have been taken after the drill that Gammon mentions in his letter.

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