EMPTY SLEEVE :
To fully appreciate the sacrifice of the American Civil War we
must appreciate the lifelong sacrifice of the thousands of young
men who suffered permanently disabling injuries  in a time when
the ability to do physical work was paramount to earning a living
and caring for a family.   Cpl. John H. Breen of Augusta, Maine
was no exception.  Enlisting at the age of 17 this young Mainer
was mustered in on August 31,1861 as a Private of Co. B 2nd
Maine Infantry.  Breen was one of a number of the 2nd Maine
transferred to the 20th Maine just before the battle of Gettysburg in
1863.  (An incident popularized in the motion picture Gettysburg.)  
Pvt. Breen served with the 20th on Little Round Top and was
subsequently promoted to Corporal.   Passing unscathed through
his hard fought service until the brave Corporal’s good fortune ran
out on May 5, 1864.   It was on this day at the Battle of the
Wilderness that Corp. John H. Breen was badly wounded and
captured by the Confederates.   He would lay wounded and in
Confederate hands for over a month before, on June 15th, he was
released back into the care of the Union Army.  Corp. Breen was
sent to Annapolis, Maryland  where he was hospitalized  at Camp
Parole to recuperate from amputation of his left hand.  Per a period
inscription on the back, of his portrait, it was here as a patient  of  
Ward 42, Section D, that this intricately rendered pen and ink was
done likely by a fellow patient eager to bide his time earning some
trade or pocket change with his skill .  The viewer will note clever
placement of the Corporal’s forage cap, concealing an empty left
sleeve.   Was it personal vanity or an effort to shield loved ones at
home that fostered placement of the cap?
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