This letter was written by Laforest H. Hinton (1841-1864), the son of James Hinton (1813-1857) and Sabrina Starbird (1816-1888) of Hartland, Somerset county, Maine. Laforest enlisted in Co. D, 9th Maine Infantry, with his brother Frederick A. Hinton (1843-1917), but he was discharged for disability on 1862. In August 1863, he volunteered to re-enter the service as a substitute, giving his widowed mother $99 of his bounty and pledging his support to her for the balance of his three year term.
Laforest found himself ordered to the depleted ranks of Co. B, 3rd Maine Infantry and was with the regiment when they entered the Wilderness in the opening days of Grant’s Overland Campaign. According to Luther Tripp, who belonged to Co. B, 17th Maine Infantry, Hinton was taken prisoner on 6 May 1864, the same day he was but did not see him until May 7th. “He was wounded in the rear when the enemy flanked us or got in our rear & captured Hinton with two or three thousand others,” wrote Tripp, who went on to state that together they were taken to Andersonville where Hinton almost immediately began to suffer ill health. As Sherman’s army threatened to overtake the prison during the summer of 1864, Tripp and Hinton were both transferred to the prison at Florence, South Carolina, where Hinton was soon afterwards sent to the nearby hospital. He is reported to have died there on 22 October 1864.
When Laforest’s mother attempted to seek a pension for her son’s service, her application was stonewalled for a time due to a clerical error in military records. It seems that when the 3rd Maine Infantry’s time expired in late June 1864 (while Laforest was in Andersonville), the balance of his service was transferred to Co. D, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery. This is odd because most of the veterans who had reenlisted or the recruits and substitutes that still had time to serve were transferred to the 17th Maine Infantry. In any event, the matter of Hinton’s service in the 1st Maine H. A. had to be cleared up before the pension could be awarded.
Laforest wrote the letter to his older sister, Elvira J. Hinton (1837-1888) who married John Littlefield (1830-1865) prior to 1858.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Jim Doncaster and is published by express consent.]
July 7th 1864
I seat myself to write you a few lines to let you know that I am alive and where I am and that I am well, &c. I wrote a letter to Mother soon after I was taken prisoner but have not received any answer from it yet and perhaps she did not get it. I was taken prisoner on the 5th of May. I received a slight would between the shoulders but that is well now. Almond [C. Starbird] and Dudley Annis are missing. ¹ I don’t know what become of them.
I heard from [brother] Frederick the 12th of June. He was all right then. Well, have nothing more to write now. Tell Mother not to worry for I will be at home again all right yet.
If you get this, please write as soon as you can and write all the news. Well, I can’t write any more now so goodbye. This is from your brother, — L. H. Hinton
Direct your letter to Co. B, 3rd Maine Regiment, Camp Sumter, Andersonville, Georgia
¹ Both Almond C. Starbird and Dudley Annis, Jr. of Hartland, Maine, were also substitutes from the 59th Sub-District (St. George) of Maine in 1863. A facebook page claims that Almond was “Killed in action at the “Battle of Chancellorsville” in 1863 but it should be “Killed in action at the Battle of the Wilderness” in 1864.