Shown here are ghost like images from a group of hitherto unpublished
tintypes found several years ago in a Virginia country auction.  While the
identity of the artist / photographer has been lost to time, a period scratch
engraved inscription on the back of one plate documents the occasion as the
31st Maine Volunteer Infantry just arriving in Washington on April 21,
1864.  Organized at Augusta, Maine  to serve three years, the 31st Regiment
had left the state for Washington D. C. just four days earlier.  The soon to be
hard fought Mainers were at once moved to the front where on May 5th- 7th
the raw recruits participated in the battle of the Wilderness where the
Regiment lost heavily in killed and wounded.  The 31st would see nearly
continuous hard service through the remainder of the Civil War. The men
seen in these photographs would fight and many would die or be maimed
for life at such places as Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor,
Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Spring Church and Hatcher's Run.  
They would fall at Bethesda Church and at the Petersburg Mine Explosion
where the 31st Maine was among the first into the fray.   1,595 strong upon
arrival, the 31st Regiment would lose nearly 400 of their number in KIA or
died of wounds or disease before mustering out on July 15, 1865.  There is
no record of the number who returned to Maine with disabling injury.