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Purchased at a Connecticut flea market, this correspondence gives us a glimpse into the world of Jacob Bauer, a German immigrant who served in the 16th Connecticut. He and his wife lived in Berlin, Conn.

At the Battle of Antietam—the regiment’s first fight of the Civil War—Private Bauer survived physically unscathed. But the 16th Connecticut was routed  in a 40-acre cornfield outside the village of Sharpsburg, Md., on Sept. 17, 1862, suffering 43 killed and 161 wounded.

Bauer helped cheer wounded 16th Connecticut Private George Chamberlain at the German Reformed Church hospital in Sharpsburg, giving his friend his watch “to amuse him” and perhaps to take back home when he was well.

On April 20, 1864, Bauer, a sergeant, was captured at Plymouth, N. C., with most of the rest of his regiment and sent to Andersonville, the most notorious POW camp of the Rebellion. He somehow survived the camp where 13,000 other Union soldiers died; he was paroled on Dec. 10, 1864.

After the war, Bauer was active in veterans’ organizations. He died in 1931 at age 92, outliving his wife, Emily, and most of his fellow veterans. Bauer’s wife, with whom he had four children, died in 1900.

1st Sgt Jacob Bauer & wife Emily at Suffolk, Va.—Sept 1863 (Conn. State Library)

In this 16th Connecticut Reunion, Bauer is the third from left in the front row (Conn. State Library)