|Chaplain William Channing's condolence letter to Sergeant James McLaughlin's brother-in-law.|
(National Archives via fold3.com)
chaplain in Stanton
Nine days after the battle, McLaughlin took a turn for the worse. Perhaps wracked by infection as well as other effects of his wound, the 39-year-old soldier died on Dec. 22. Two days later, William H, Channing, a chaplain at Stanton Hospital, took pencil in hand to jot down a few lines about McLaughlin's sad end to his brother-in-law back in Massachusetts. (See complete transcription of note below.) The cause of death was "mortification of the arm," wrote Channing, who noted "all was done for him that was possible under the circumstances."
"His life," the chaplain added, "could not be saved."
McLaughlin's death was particularly tragic. He left behind two orphaned children, 14-year-old Mary and 8-year-old George, whose Irish-born mother, Mary, had died of consumption in 1858. Peter Kirlan, McLaughlin's brother-in-law, traveled to Washington, recovered James' body and returned with the remains to Massachusetts, where he was buried in a cemetery in Watertown.
|James McLauglin's grave in|
Catholic Mount Auburn Cemetery
in Watertown, Mass.
(Find a Grave)
Monday, Wash. D.C.
Dec. 24, 1862
To Mr. Peter Kirlan
East Cambridge, Mass
You will be pained to learn that your friend and correspondent, Sergt. J. C. McLaughlin of the 28th Mass., Co. A, died on the 22 inst. of mortification in the arm produced by the terrible wound which he received at the Battle of Fredericksburg. All was done for him that was possible under the circumstances. His life could not have been saved. Will you communicate to his friends the sad intelligence that this brave man died, as became a gallant soldier, and let the knowledge of his heroic fidelity to duty be their consolation. The priest who attended upon him in his last hours will probably write to you or to his parish. He will be buried today in the cemetery at the Soldiers Home. .
With true sympathy, I remain yours truly
Chaplain Stanton Hospital
-- James McLaughlin pension file, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington D.C., via fold3.com.