Colonel of the 5th Maine Infantry
Commander of the regiment during the battle of Gettysburg!
War Date Autograph Cover Signed
(1824-1903) Edwards was 37 years old when the news of the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter reached the small town of Bethel, Maine. He was high on a ladder shingling his roof and he immediately climbed down, obtained permission from the appropriate authorities to form a company of volunteers, and set out to gather recruits from Bethel and the surrounding towns. This group of men became Company I, of the 5th Maine Volunteer Infantry, with Edwards commissioned as their captain on June 24, 1861. He rose through the ranks and was appointed colonel of the regiment, on January 8, 1863, commanding the 5th Maine Infantry from that date forward. He was promoted to brevet brigadier general, on March 13, 1865, for his gallant and meritorious Civil War service record.
The 5th Regiment Maine Volunteer Infantry was one of the first Maine regiments to be mustered into the Union Army. They fought in many battles from 1st Bull Run to Petersburg. During the battle of Rappahannock Station the regiment is credited with capturing 4 Confederate battleflags and 1,200 prisoners. Known as one of Maine's best fighting regiments, it captured more prisoners than the entire number of men who served in the regiment, and three times the number of battle flags than any other Maine regiment. After three long years of hard fought service only 193 men were mustered out of the regiment when their term of service expired. Among their battle honors are written the names of 1st Bull Run, Gaines' Mill, 2nd Bull Run, Crampton's Gap, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Rappahannock Station, Rapidan Crossing, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and Petersburg.
War Date Autograph Cover Signed: Docketed at the top, Soldier's Letter, and below that, Aug. 63, and at the left edge, Aug. 14/63. Addressed in the hand of Edwards to his wife, Mrs. C.S. Edwards, Bethel, Maine, (Oxford Co.) C.D.S., Washington, D.C., Aug. 1[?], 1863. Stamped Due 6. There is also a cross written notation at the postmark, Jewett Execution.** This is a reference to the content of the letter that this envelope once contained. Light staining and edge wear.
** Thomas Jewett was a private of Co. D, 5th Maine Infantry, and a resident of Rockland, Maine at the time of his enlistment. He was court martialed for desertion at Salem Church, Virginia, was found guilty, and executed by a firing squad on August 14, 1863.