|William Griffing created a web site for war-time correspondence between Jacob and Emily Bauer.|
|Jacob and Emily Bauer in Virginia in the summer of 1863.|
(Connecticut State Library)
In my favorite letter, dated Oct. 5, 1862, a worried Emily wrote Jacob, then a private in the 16th Connecticut. A German immigrant, Bauer had recently survived the Battle of Antietam -- the regiment's first fight of the war. In a 40-acre cornfield near the village of Sharpsburg, Md., on Sept. 17, 1862, more than 200 soldiers in his regiment became casualties -- 43 were killed in action.
“Mr. [Jacob] Eaton was wounded at the battle of Antietam and the ball is in his leg yet,” Emily noted about the private in the 8th Connecticut. “[Private] William Pratt was also wounded in that battle, I believe pretty severely in the hip. [Sgt.] Edward Parmalee’s remains were carried here from Hartford on the one o’clock train and buried up town where his mother was buried. [Sgt. Wadsworth] Washburn’s body has not come up yet.”
Added Emily: “This is a dreadful war. I hope and pray it may cease soon.”
In a letter to Emily on Aug. 20, 1863, Jacob wrote how he eagerly anticipated her visit to the regiment's camp in Virginia.
|Jacob Bauer of the 16th Connecticut survived Antietam.|
Many of his comrades did not.
Later, he added: "I think I can get a room and board near our camp but if not, can you sleep with me on a hard board and a single blanket for covering?"
On April 20, 1864, Bauer, a sergeant, was captured in Plymouth, N.C., with most of the rest of his regiment and sent to Andersonville, the most notorious POW camp of the Rebellion. He somehow survived the camp where 13,000 Union soldiers died; Bauer was paroled on Dec. 10, 1864.
After the war, Jacob was active in veterans’ organizations. He died in 1931 at age 92, outliving his wife and most of his fellow veterans. Emily, with whom he had four children, died in 1900. (In A Broken Regiment, Lesley Gordon's excellent book on the 16th Connecticut, Bauer is featured.)
In the grand scheme of things, there are no amazing revelations, no "aha!" moments in the Bauers' correspondence. The letters are merely a glimpse into the lives of a loving couple during the Civil War. At the very least, that alone makes them worth preserving and sharing with others.
Let's keep history alive.