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?