This letter was written by 2d Lieutenant Franklin (“Frank”) G. Patterson of Co. D, 5th Maine Infantry. When he first enlisted in June 1861, he served as a sergeant in Co. G. He rose through the ranks to First Sergeant, to 3rd Lieutenant, and to 2d Lieutenant by April 1863. This letter was written just before he officially mustered out of the regiment on 27 July 1864. I believe Frank was the son of Samuel Patterson (1814-18xx) and Caroline Beale (1819-18xx). In 1850, his father was a carpenter by profession in Augusta, Kennebec county, Maine.
This letter was written to John Leavitt (1798-1871) and Eunice S. Shaw (1801-1884) of Portland, Maine. The letter refers to the recent death of their son, Joseph Leavitt who enlisted on 23 June 1861 as a private in Co. G, 5th Maine Infantry. Joseph re-enlisted on 28 December 1863 as a veteran and was with his regiment at the Battle of Spotsylvania where he received a mortal gunshot wound on 18 May 1864. [A contradictory pension record indicates that the wound was a fractured left thigh inflicted during the Battle of the Wilderness on 5 May 1864. A personal testament in Joseph’s pension file by Capt. A. P. Harris of Co. G claims that Joseph was “severely wounded in his left thigh by a bullet from the enemy while making a charge upon the enemy’s breastworks at Spotsylvania Court House…on May 10, 1864 and he died at Alexandria, Va. July 15th 1864 by reason of said wound.”] He died on 15 July 1864 in the First Division General Hospital at Alexandria, Virginia. [See — 1861: Joseph Leavitt to Sarah Leavitt]
In the letter, Frank offers to assist the Leavitt family in obtaining the Widow’s Pension to which they would be entitled following the death of their son as a soldier in the line of duty. Frank’s name does appear as the agent for a number of other members of the 5th Maine though I could not find it on any of Joseph Leavitt’s papers. Perhaps the letter, which began as a letter of consolation and ended as a business letter seemed a little to disingenuous to the family.
July 22, 1864
I was pained by reading the death of your son Joseph a few days since — not that it was unexpected. On the contrary. I did not think at the time of my visiting him in Fredericksburg he would live but a day or two.
I was with him considerable while there as I was slightly wounded myself, besides having a fever. Your son enlisted in the same company with myself and our relations were of a very pleasant nature.
Acquainted as I am with all in the regiment and experienced in the business connected with it, I have concluded — if the friends wish it — to settle up all the accounts, collect back pay, pensions &c. of those who now belong or who have been members of our regiment. I enclose you my card and if you see fit to entrust me with the settlement of Joseph’s accounts, I will endeavor to do it in a satisfactory manner. If I am not in the office, Mr. Sawyer — my partner — will inform you where I am.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant, — Lieut. F. G. Patterson, 5th Maine Vols.
82½ Exchange Street