A Piece Of Maine History: 1863 Civil War Soldier’s Letter Home to Palermo, Maine
Lenny Goodine, who most in Central Maine know from the band Emerald Sky, is my guest host on the Morning Buzz this week. Lenny bought a home in Palermo about a year ago and made an amazing discovery from the Civil War era.
His home was built in the 1850’s and after he moved in he found a hidden room in the house. He said it looked like a drawer and when he lifted and pulled it, a secret room was revealed.
Inside the drawer was a note from a soldier in the civil war he wrote to his wife in Palermo. The letter is from a man named Charles who was in the Mississippi Maine unit. He was in Vicksburg, Mississippi during the ‘The Siege of Vicksburg' which ran from May 18, 1863 to July 4, 1863. The letter was dated from that time in 1863.
In the letter he opens with that fact he missed her immediately followed by how heavy the fighting has been. He expresses how the men in camp have almost given up hope.
He also asked if the farm in Palermo is being taken care of by their ‘guests’. The guests he is referring to are slaves and the secret room was room where southern slaves would hide. Amazing to think this all happened in Palermo, Maine.
He goes on to say Congress enacted a new law, billed the ‘fugitive slave law’. The law allowed slave owners from the southern states to come north and reclaim their slaves. The law also states that those harboring fugitive slaves can be arrested for doing so.
He tells his wife to make sure they are not seen and she should send them on their way to Canada.
He closes with ‘be careful’ and 'please write soon’.
It’s an incredible letter from a man in a horrific battle in the civil war who was a sympathizer of slaves but went one step further to hide them in his house.
You can read the entire letter below:
I have missed you so very much as the fighting has been very heavy for the past few days.
God however has been my stay. Without his help, and the thought of you my love, I would have given up long ago. Many men in my camp have nearly given up hope of ever seeing their family again. There are times my love that verse comes to mind.
"Behold, I have graven thee on the palms of my hands: Thy walls are continually before me."
God has done many things for me these past months. Things I could not even imagine.
The farm is being well taken care of by your guests, I trust.
Just make sure that they are not seen. Pretty soon you should send them on their way to Canada. Congress has enacted a new law, billed as the Fugitive Slave Law. Slave owners from the southern states can come to the north and recapture their slaves. Those harboring these fugitives can be arrested for doing so.
Be careful. Please write to me.
Hear a narration of the letter here: