These two letters were written by Cpl. Warren B. Thorndike (1840-1865) of Co. I, 19th Maine Volunteer Infantry. Warren was the son of Larkin Thorndike (1809-1893) and Abigail (Hall) Grant (1804-1863) of Camden, Knox county, Maine. He wrote the first letter to his sister, Harriet Eleanora Thorndike who married Roscoe “Miles” Carter in March 1863. He wrote the second letter to his brother-in-law, Miles.
As a member of the 19th Maine, Thorndike saw action at Fredricksburg, Chancellorsville, Bristoe Station, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, the North Anna River and Cold Harbor. On June 23, 1864, Cpl. Thorndike and 133 other Union soldiers were taken prisoner along the Jerusalem Plank Road near Petersburg and marched off to Andersonville Prison. He died of scorbutus in March 1865 and is buried at Andersonville National Cemetery — grave marker 12716.
Camp near Falmouth, Va.
February 1, 1863
Eleanora — respected sister,
I received your letter this morning dated January 28th and was very glad to hear from you and that you were all well. And now take my pen to write you a few lines to let you know that I am well and hope these few lines will still find you all enjoying the same great blessing of God.
I am on guard today and was on yesterday too. The regiment is on picket today so I have to stay on two days. It is rather hard — especially on Sunday. I was very glad to get those pens. They will come in time of need and those stamps too. I got a letter from Father and Edward this morning. I was very glad to hear from home. I wrote about getting my box in my last to you. I have fared first rate since I had some sausage and doughnuts for my breakfast. They were nice. I thought of you when eating them for the most of my meal was cooked by you. I am very thankful for it. I would once more thank you all for your kindness to me. Clara’s cheese was very welcome and very good and all the box too. Eleanora, thank them all for me and give my love and best respects to them and receive your share with the rest which is not small.
The weather is warm here now. The sky is overcast today. I wish I was there to go to meeting today. I have quite good times now although I am lonesome and long to once more meet my brethren and sisters. It is noon and I will close and write some other time. Good morning, Eleanora.
Sunday afternoon, Feb. 1st.
I take my pen to write a few more words. I have been on guard since I wrote this forenoon. It rains now. I shall not have to stand guard tonight in the rain. Hain’t I lucky? I am as fat as a pig [and] enjoying myself well. Coming home in the spring if not greatly mistaken. Why did you not write how many stamps you had sent me? The next time you write, tell me how many and you can have your pay. Tell Miles to remember me. Tell him I send my love to your mother and the rest of the folks. Good afternoon sister, — W. B. Tho.
Monday morning, Feb. 2nd
Good morning. I should like to see you this morning but [it is] impossible. The weather is cold today. I have just been to breakfast. I had hard bread, apple sauce and butter and doughnuts. I fared nicely. You must excuse me for so short a letter for I have 4 letters to write and finish before the mail goes so good day. Write soon. Yours in haste.
— W. B. T.
Send me some stamps.
In Camp near Culpeper, Va.
September 14, 1863
I take my pen to answer your letter of the 6th inst., which I received the 11th, but owing to having to march the next morning, I haven’t had a chance to answer it before. I was very glad to get a letter from you once more for your letters always encourage me to persevere on.
We crossed the river yesterday morning. We are expecting to move forward every moment. I hear heavy cannonading in front. Our cavalry was engaged by spells yesterday. We drove them and took a lot of prisoners and some artillery. The news is that the Rebs have crossed the Rapidan and burned the bridge but how true the report, I cannot tell. The negroes here say that most of Lee’s force has gone to South Carolina.
My health is good for me and I hope these few hasty written lines will find you in good health. I am still trying to pray as of former days but I am far from enjoying what I have enjoyed of former days. I find it hard to maintain my Christian principles for I have everything to fight against but I have not time to write about that now. Brother, pray for me. I desire to be a true Christian. I hope soon to see you and enjoy the blessing of prayer and other privileges of home. Give my love to [sister] Eleanora and to all enquiring friends and accept a brother’s [love] yourself.
You spoke about sending out boots. I don’t know what to say but as we are now, it would be no use. What price do you get for those boots you spoke about to me at home? If I see a chance to do anything, I will write you. I think there will be a sight when we settle again. Write often as you can and I will do the same. I will close by wishing you good day.
I still remain your brother in Christian love, as ever—W. B. Tho.