This letter was written by Pvt. Abraham Fink (1834-1911), the son of German immigrant George “Adam” Fink (1804-1875) and his wife, Catherine Holderbaum (1809-1875). Abraham was drafted into Co. C, 148th Pennsylvania Infantry on 20 August 1863. He was discharged from the service on 15 May 1865. From this letter we learn that Abraham was wounded rather severely during the Battle of Cold Harbor—a Rebel bullet piercing his left thigh and shattering the bone. This letter was written over eight months after being wounded while Abraham was recuperating in Stanton Hospital in Washington D. C. According to census records, Abraham was unable to read or write the English language so this partial letter was most likely written for him by a fellow soldier or hospital attendant.
After the war, Abraham returned home and married in 1866 to Elizabeth Miller (1849-1921) who bore him 9 children (only 8 of them still living in 1900).
The letter was addressed to John “Barkharmer” but I was unable to find anyone by that name. It does not appear to have been a comrade from the 148th Pennsylvania nor a near neighbor back home in Bedford county, Pennsylvania. There were families by the name of “Burkheimer” in the county, however, so my hunch is that whoever wrote the letter for Abraham simply guessed at the spelling.
For another letter of a draftee taken into the 148th Pennsylvania, see Simon Shuman to George H. Mowry.
[Note: This letter is from the private collection of Sheldon H. Weaver (a g-g-grandson of Pvt. A. Fink) and is published by express consent.)
Stanton Hospital, Ward 4
Washington D. C.
February 9, 1865
Mr. John Barkharmer
I take my pen in hand to drop a few lines to you to let you know how I am getting along. My wound is healing up very fast. My health is very good at this present time. I was wounded at Cold Harbor on the 2nd day of last June through my leg—the calf of my left leg. The bone was shattered. I was in five battles before I was wounded. I seen some pretty hard times. I don’t think that I will ever be able to go in the field again through circumstances that my leg is not [healed at] this present time. I think next thing, I will get my discharge the way things is at this present time.
I was home on a furlough this fall but I wasn’t able to go around on my crutches. I went back to the hospital again. I had to take my bed [as] my wound was worse, though it is healing up very fast at this present time. I come here in the hospital the twelfth day of last June. I am in Stanton Hospital, Ward 4, Washington D. C.
We have better times here this winter than we had last winter. We didn’t have to lay on the pine boughs in water and mud up to our knees like we did last winter. We had some pretty cold weather here. It has been…. [remainder of letter missing]