From Abbie to Mrs. Joseph Peirce, May 22, 1864

Dublin Core


From Abbie to Mrs. Joseph Peirce, May 22, 1864


Mrs. Joseph Peirce
Billerica, MA.


From Abbie to Mrs. Joseph Peirce


Abbie Jaquith


Jerome Peirce Collection, National Park Service


HIST 428 (Spring 2020), University of Mary Washington




NPS, Civil War Study Group, Josef Rokus (Transcriber)


For educational purposes with no commercial use. Courtesy of National Park Service, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania NMP, FRSP 16095-16102 (FRSP-00904).






Letter #218


Billerica, MA.

Text Item Type Metadata


Billerica, May 22nd, 1864
Dear Mrs. Peirce,
Your very painful but kind letter was received yesterday and Allie desires me to reply in her stead.
We had heard nothing of the sad intelligence of which you wrote. The papers have been most carefully searched, the names of wounded and killed particularly read. We saw among them James Peirce of Co. H 36th Regt. killed, and I believe about the date we should affix to dear Jerome if the report be true. It startled us some at the time but circumstances overcame the feeling, it would have to arose from mistake in the name, was without his Seargt’s title prefixed to it and Allie believed there were others by the name of Peirce in that company. Do you know if it was so?
You were very kind to send to Allie as you did – indeed you have ever been and your frequent communications of late have given her so much gratitude as her mind has been so distracted by the anxiety of this fearful time. She is sadly, sadly grieved and we hardly know what words of comfort to offer. We can only wait, leaning on that Omnipotent from above able to bear up the broken hearted.
We do still cling to shadow of hope that rumor may have deceived us and that ere long more cheering tidings will come to us. How can we best ascertain facts? What does Mr. Peirce think as best course to pursue? We sent a letter at once to Boston hoping some effectual step for action might arise in the mind of your brother there or that Alonzo R. could suggest some known means for communications. Hope we shall hear soon.
Allie received a letter from Mrs. Richardson of Stoneham a few days since expressive of much concern for the dear ones exposed to the sad ordeal of battle.
Dear Mrs. Peirce, we most truly feel with you for the suffering and cruel return to danger of Jos. [Joseph] H. [Peirce]. How hard for him thus to be sent forth in all his weakness. We have felt much anxiety for him since we saw the account of his illness in the paper. Allie wrote to him as soon as she got your letter telling of his location in the Hospital, thinking it might seem good in his loneliness to hear from friends. Perhaps the letter never reached him if he was so soon sent forth. Let us know of him when you hear.
Are not hearts drawn very closely by sympathy at this time? Surely a wail of sorrow must arise from your town. How has Orange suffered in this cause. It seems as though it must be almost draped with mourning but let us “be still and know the Lord reigns.”
With many regards. I remain your friend
Abbie Jaquith

Mrs. Stebbins and Mrs. Richardson, Jerome’s sisters, have just left here. They had heard nothing of what you wrote but wished to know what was true in regard to tidings.
Our whole town is under much excitement here today. A lady of much refinement and greatly beloved who has recently been suffering from mental depression since the death of her husband by consumption was this morning found missing from her home. She put her three children to bed last night and this morning they saw a light still burning but no trace of her in the house. A hoopskirt was found on the banks of the river and fears are entertained that she is drowned. They are dragging the river and search is being made in every direction. She has lived for a few years past in Springfield but returned to town as her father lived here. It is a singular coincidence that she was living in the same house in which her parents lived when she was young and from which her mother wandered away and made an attempt to drown herself but courage failed. There is a general gloom over the whole place. We dread the discovery. How many ways for sorrow?

Monday morn.
The body of that lady was recovered from the river last night drowned.
Allie’s and our remembrance to Mr. Mayo’s family.

NOTE 1: Abbie Jaquith was Allie’s sister.

NOTE 2: According to the roster of men in Co. H of the 36th Massachusetts Volunteers Regiment contained in the Unit History, there was no James Peirce in that company, but Jerome Peirce is, of course, listed in the roster. The comments after his name read as follows: “Enlisted at age 31, from Orange, Mass. Mustered into service Aug. 4, 1862, Promoted Sergt. Killed in action at Spotsylvania, Va., May 12, ’64.” Therefore, the newspaper account referenced in the letter mistakenly identified Jerome as James. It is interesting to note that in the roster in the Unit History Jerome’s last name is spelled “Pierce” instead of the correct “Peirce.”

NOTE 3: How and when Abbie first learned that Jerome had been killed has been an unanswered question. Based on this letter she was, very sadly, informed indirectly on or about May 21, 1864, from an article in a local newspaper that listed the names of men who had been killed or wounded in recent battles. Even then, she could not be absolutely certain that she would never see Jerome again because of the incorrect reporting of the first name. The fact that she received no more letters from Jerome after the one he wrote to her on May 1, 1864, must have been the deciding factor to convince her that the worst had happened. Quite often, official notifications of the next of kin did not take place for some time after the battle because the commanding officers were severely pressed for time as the regiments were compelled to move to the next battlefield. That was definitely the case for the Union army in May of 1864. Per Jerome’s Pension File, it was not until sometime in June 1864 that Abbie received an official notification that Jerome had fallen at Spotsylvania Court House on May 12, 1864. She used that document as part of her application for a widow’s pension.

Original Format




Abbie Jaquith 1864, From Abbie to Mrs. Joseph Peirce, May 22, 1864, HIST 428 (Spring 2020), University of Mary Washington


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