The Jerome Peirce Letter Collection
Discover the story of Sergeant Jerome Peirce, a soldier in the American Civil War. Peirce enlisted in the Union army in the summer of 1862 and served as part of the 36th Massachusetts Regiment until he was killed in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in May 1864.
Jerome Peirce was born on November 11, 1830 to Joseph and Martha Peirce as the youngest of 12 children. Sources disagree on where he was born, but scholars agree that he lived most of his life in northern Massachusetts. Peirce married Albinia (Allie) Jaquith in September 1857, and their daughter, Lucy S. Peirce, was born two years later on December 26, 1859. Peirce lived with his wife and daughter in Billerica, MA. before he enlisted in the Union army in 1862.
When President Lincoln called for volunteers to fight for the Union cause in the summer of 1862, Jerome Peirce enlisted as a corporal in the 36th Massachusetts Regiment in Orange, MA. He was promoted to Sergeant in January 1864. During his time in the war, Peirce wrote many letters to family and friends, as many soldiers did. A majority of the letters were addressed to his wife, Allie. He also wrote to his daughter, whom he affectionately called Lulu, as well as his brothers, Allie’s parents, Allie’s sister, and friends back home. Many of the letters that Jerome received from Allie and others have been lost through time, although some still exist in this collection. As Jerome said in many of his letters, these correspondences helped stave off homesickness and made his time in the war more bearable. After almost two years of serving in the Union army, Peirce was killed on May 12, 1864 in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House.
Jerome Peirce was first buried on the battlefield of Spotsylvania Court House, and his remains were later transferred to the Fredericksburg National Cemetery. After his death, Allie, his widow, sent $100 to the National Cemetery superintendent to be used to decorate Jerome’s grave with flowers every Memorial Day. This tradition has been carried on by Peirce’s descendents, and every year on Memorial Day flowers appear on his grave with a note that reads, “Once Lost, Now Found, Never Forgotten.”
This site houses hundreds of letters written to, from, and about Jerome Peirce. Browse through five different collections and see the Timeline and StoryMap for more information.
The Jerome Peirce Collection, 1862-1864. From the National Park Service.
Rokus, Josef W. "The Sgt. Jerome Peirce Story: 'Once Lost, Now Found, Never Forgotten,'" 2016.