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Personal Experience of a Union Veteran

By Levi Lindley Hawes
About 12 o'clock one August night in 1862, as I sat in my tent at Fort Jackson, La., making out a Post Return—or perhaps writing to ‘the girl I left behind me’—I was interrupted by the quiet entrance of the commandant. ‘Ye gods! what do I see?’ I exclaimed, as the lieutenant-colonel stood before me in full evening (or night) dress. ‘I thought you were asleep hours ago.’ ‘I have been asleep,’ he replied, ‘but when I awoke and saw a light in your tent, I said to myself, this “witching hour of night” is a proper time for me to ask Levi what prompted or induced him to enter the service. You, an only son, left a delightful, happy home,—I simply left the state of Maine. Why did you enlist in the military service?’ After an hour's friendly chat, I think the colonel retired in the firm conviction that I had a valid reason for connecting myself as sergeant in company I, Thirteenth Maine Regiment Infantry. With varied phraseology this pertinent question has been fired at me scores of times. In this connection permit me to read extracts from two letters written in September, 1861.


Bangor, Me., September 7, 1861.
My dear Levi: You seem to think it is your duty to go into the army, and by what you write I judge that you have decided to go. Well, go, if you think you can endure the exposure and hardships of camp life; and may God bless you in all your endeavors to serve our country, and give you health, strength, and ability equal to your calling. If you do enter your country's service, attach yourself to a cavalry squadron, by all means. I

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