We are always trying to find an interesting story to tell with items in our collections. Our latest acquisition was, in a way, its own story. We purchased a letter written January 23, 1863, by George N. Downs who was serving with the Company B of the 22nd Connecticut Volunteers. The letter was to his sister, either Mary, who was older, or Cloe, who was younger than George. George had moved from the battlefield to the ambulance corps by the time this letter was written, a position which he claimed he enjoyed more–he got to go to the field after the battle was over. At least he was honest. What makes the story is that, in addition to the letter, we also purchased a cased tintype of the man in uniform. So we have a face to go with the name.
George survived the war, and eventually married and settled in Waterbury, Connecticut, with his wife Emma, their daughter Edith, and his brother Levi B. Downs, another veteran of the war. George was not particularly literate, which is also part of the story and which makes reading his letter a bit of a challenge. We know he died before 1898 when Emma remarried. The complete story remains a bit sketchy, but having both the letter and the tintype makes it more complete than usual. Ms 1008831. Photograph 2010.057.