This letter was written by 37 year-old Nehemiah R. Maker (1828-1899), the son of Theodore Maker (1792-1869) and Emma Bean Ramsdell (1800-1880) of Machias, Washington county, Maine. He was married to Lydia Marston (1828-1908) in 1848 and was the father of at least eight children prior to his enlistment on 11 August 1862 in Co. B, 11th Maine Volunteer Infantry. He entered the service as a corporal and rose in rank to sergeant before he was mustered out at Richmond, Virginia, on 12 June 1865.
Nehemiah wrote the letter to his friend, Antoinette B. (Marston) Bryant (1833-1913), the wife of Vinal Mariner Bryant (1822-1889) of Machias, Washington county, Maine.
May 28, 1865
It is a long time since I wrote to you but I will try to write you a few lines to let you know that I am still alive & well & hope that this will find you, husband, and family the same. I received a letter from you some time ago but I have had such a poor chance to write that I have neglected to answer and my chance now is not very good at this time. But I have no reason to complain. I am glad to know that I am spared to enjoy this chance as poor as some calls it while so many of our brave boys has fell in my sight and of course I have not seen but a very, very small part of the number. But I have seen some of my best friends fall in battle—men that has proved themselves men in their country’s cause—C. C. Davis ¹ for one, and a number more that I could mention. But I hope that this war is at any rate. I tell you it was a moment of rejoicing when we heard that General Lee had surrendered. We fired our guns in the air and so did the Rebs. They was—or seemed—as glad as we were. But there is a good many Rebs at heart in the City of Richmond at this hour. But I am in hopes that it will wear off in time without further trouble.
I was sorry to hear the death of William Foss. ² I saw him but a few days before he was killed. He was killed the same day that C. C. Davis was. I saw your brother [Leander K. Marston, 1st Maine H.A.] as he and I was a going into the field of battle but did not have time to talk but a few moments.
I suppose that you would like to know when I shall be at home but I cannot tell for we hear so many stories that I do not pretend to believe them but I think that we shall be discharged as soon as the thing can be got in proper shape. I do not care but a very little whether I get out of the army before August or not as I cannot get home in time to do my farming. But we have some men that has been in the army a month or so that is in a bad way to get out & some of them are bounty jumpers. I want to see them stop a spell to get hardened to the army.
It is a getting too late for me to see to scribble anymore & will close hoping to hear from you & husband soon. I should of wrote more to your husband but I did not know as it would find him at home. Please write soon as you can and tell me all the news that you can.
Yours truly, — Sergt. N. R. Maker
¹ Corp. Charles C. Davis (1829-1865) of Co. B, 11th Maine Infantry was killed on 9 April 1865 in the fighting before Petersburg. He was the son of Samuel & Eleanor Davis of Machias. He left a wife (Almira) and a son (Jesses). He was originally buried at Appomattox Station but now rests in the Poplar Grove National Cemetery (Gravestone 4815).
² William L. Foss was killed at Farmville, Virginia on 7 April 1865. He served in Co. D, 1st Maine Cavalry. He was the son of William and Betsy Foss of Machias.