July 2nd 1863 was a particularly sad day for the residents of the little central Maine town of Embden. With a population of just
over a thousand in 1861 seventy-five young men volunteered for military service during the Civil War. Four of that number
were killed on July 2nd 1863 serving with the 20th Maine on the rocky slopes of Little Round Top, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Shown in the tintype above is one of them, young Elfin J. Foss. Foss was 22 years of age when he enlisted and was mustered in
on August 29, 1862 as a Private of Co. F 20th Maine. On the 6th of July,1863 friend and fellow townsman Cpl. John W. Morin
writes Elfin’s mother from ‘Hospital Camp in the rear of the battlefield, Gettysburg’. ‘We had a very hard fight on the
afternoon of the 2nd’ Morin writes. ‘Our Regiment was very badly cut up and poor Elfin received a bad wound.’ Morin
himself is wounded but is able to look after his friend, ending his short letter advising that Elfin is more comfortable now and
sends word to ‘keep up good courage and sends his love. Cpl. Morin signs off his hasty letter but on the next day he is forced
to reopen his correspondence. His friend has died. ‘We have done all we could for him but his wound was too mortal’ Morin
writes, ‘the ball passed through the center of his right lung. He lived and died a good soldier. He gave his life for his country.’
Morin advises that Foss was owed four months wages from the Army and that he will see that his friend is properly buried.
Morin will send his friend’s personal things home as soon as possible. With Pvt. Foss’s tintype above is his watch*, wallet and
his bullet struck cartridge box along with his silver identification ring. ( E. J. Foss Embden Co. F. 20th Me. Reg.)
*Per a December 1862 letter home Foss acquired the watch when a member of the 20th died and his watch was sold to pay for
shipment of the remains home to North Anson, Maine.