James Monroe Meserve was born in Banstead, New Hampshire, on May 20, 1820. Although he was a family man with six living children and a seventh on the way and was considered (at 44) to be past the age of enlistment, he nevertheless volunteered for service with Company A of the First New Hampshire Cavalry in March 1864. His natural abilities gained him the rank of sergeant a month after his enlistment, but he was captured by Confederate forces shortly thereafter and sent to Andersonville prison in Georgia. Sergeant Meserve died in Andersonville on August 22, 1864.

Although Sergeant Meserve was not a poet by training, this poem, which he wrote for his family while he was away fighting, illustrates the highly literate nature of the 19th century mind. Even men and women with little education, whose spelling, grammar, and punctuation left much to be desired, were nonetheless capable of turning a flowery phrase with the best of them.

Thanks to Regina Hallmark, the great-great granddaughter of Sergeant Meserve, for sharing this poem, which she received from her mother, Eva Littlefield Scott of Bristol, New Hampshire.


This page is http://civilwarpoetry.org/authors/meserve.html
Last modified 16-April-2001