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?