Thursday, May 17, 2012

Death at New Bern: 'You have lost a noble brother'

On a Civil War memorial in Collinsville, Conn., Private Isaac Tuller's name appears next
 to two other comrades in Company A of the 8th Connecticut who died during the Civil War.

On a spring day in 1862, a captain in the 8th Connecticut wrote a letter like thousands of other letters sent home to loved ones of soldiers during the Civil War.

Civil War memorial at Village Cemetery in Collinsville, Conn., 
honoring soldiers "whose bodies were never brought home."
"Your brother died at 2 o'clock on the morning of April 9th of typhoid fever," Henry Hoyt wrote to Isaac Tuller's sister, Hattie, on May 12, 1862. "...You have lost a noble brother. I have lost a man whose loss we all deeply feel. He was noble hearted and generous to a fault." (See complete letter below from mother s pension file.)

Tuller's death in an army hospital in New Bern, N.C., was especially poignant.

Only four months earlier, the former clerk and two other comrades in the 8th Connecticut penned a letter home from their camp near Annapolis, Md., thanking a woman for sending mittens and socks to the soldiers to protect them during a harsh winter. (The letter may be found today among the Civil War manuscript holdings at the Connecticut Historical Society.)

"We have this day been the recipient of some mittens and stockings which we are informed you helped knit." read that letter to Sophronia Barber of Canton Center, dated Dec. 16, 1861. "We thank you kindly for them, and as we are engaged in helping to maintain the government and wear these to keep our bodies warm, you may be assured that our hearts will warm toward those who have remembered the soldier in his need."

Close-up of memorial, erected in 1903.
"May the richest of Heavens blessing rest upon the ladies who so kindly remember us," the letter continued, "and we hope that this war soon be over and none of the Stars that now are emblazoned on the Flag of our Country be effaced and we be returned to our homes again and see our friends again in a free & united country, under the same old flag the heroes of the revolution fought under."

The letter was signed by Tuller, Henry D Sexton and Martin L. Wadhams, all privates in Company A. The young men in their early 20s were probably good friends.

Nine months later, each was dead.

Like Tuller, Sexton died of disease, losing an agonizing battle with jaundice on Jan. 7 aboard a hospital ship in Annapolis harbor. "It took five of us to hold him and keep him from tearing his face with his hands," a friend in the 8th Connecticut wrote of Sexton. Wadhams was killed at Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. Sadly, the remains of all three soldiers were not brought home. The final resting places of Wadhams and Sexton are unknown, and Tuller is buried somewhere in New Bern, N.C., perhaps in the national cemetery.

Along with the names of 36 other Connecticut soldiers, Tuller, Sexton and Wadhams are honored on a bronze plaque on the north side of a seldom-visited Canton memorial at the bottom of a hillside cemetery in Collinsville. On the reverse of the memorial, etched in granite, are these words:
"In memory of the men of Canton who offered up their lives a sacrifice in the Civil War 1861-65 and whose bodies were never returned home."

Camp near Newbern, N.C. May 12th 1862

Miss Tuller

"Your kind letter of the 30th was rec'd on the 8th. Your brother died at 2 o'clock on the morning of April 9th of typhoid fever. He was in the General Hospital at Newbern. The last time I saw him was a Slocum's Creek (March 18th) where I had to leave him on board the Gunboat Chapman -- the regiment being ordered to lay siege to Fort Macon about 40 miles from Newbern. Your brother was then taken from the steamer to the Hospital. He was at that time now sick, but the surgeon informed me that he did not consider him dangerous. I heard from him occasionally and that he was getting better. About the 15th we were startled by the news of his death. The reg. returned to Newbern on the 4th of this month where I found two letters for Isaac. I ..."  (Continued on Page 2.)

" ...opened them in order to find the address of his friends so as to send his effects home. These letters you will find with the other things. I have made enquiries at the Hospital about his last moments. He was deranged for a number of days before his death. The steward informed me that he called often for his mother and sister. You have lost a noble brother. I have lost a man whose loss we all deeply feel. He was noble hearted and generous to a fault. Dr. Leathry (since died) was very much attached to him. He had been assisting the Dr. for a few weeks in putting up medicines. He was buried in the Newbern Cemtery with his uniform on. I found his overcoat, 1 pr. of boots and 2 pouches monies containing $100 and postage stamps. The boots and cap I have sold for $5.50. There is owing to him by members of the Co. $13.00 and the Lieut. has $4.00 of his money. There are other ... " (Continued on Page 3.)

"...articles of clothing which I send by express. The money that is owing I will collect on next pay day to send to you by express. There is due from the U.S. from 31st Dec. to the time of his death. Enclosed find an inventory of effects. By presenting these docs to the Pay Master Genl. at Washington you will get the amount due. There are persons in most places who make it their business to procure the pay of deceased soldiers. I by placing the papers in the hands of an agent of this kind you will get the money without trouble. His boots and cap were somewhat worn and I thought it was better to dispose of them than to send them home. I shall be pleased to hear from you to know if you have rec'd the package. I hope to be able to send the money in a few days. Hoping that my transactions will meet your approval. I remain your friend.

Henry M. Hoyt
Capt. Co. A 8th Reg C.V.

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