Tuesday, January 31, 2017

'It is with a sad hart': Death by disease of 73rd Ohio private

A nurse cares for wounded Union soldiers. 73rd Ohio Private Patrick Henry died of disease.
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In a slim set of documents in a pension file at the National Archives, the sad story of an Ohio soldier's short life is revealed.

Patrick Henry's gravestone
in Chattanooga National Cemetery.
(Find A Grave)
Patrick Henry's father, Thomas, died in 1859, leaving his mother, Isabella, largely dependent on the earnings of her three sons. Twenty-year-old James and 22-year-old Patrick enlisted as privates in the 73rd Ohio eight days apart in October 1861, shortly after President Lincoln's call for 300,000 volunteers. The other brother, William, stayed home, presumably to take care of his widowed mother and aid with raising his sisters.

On July 10, 1862, nearly nine months to the day after he enlisted, James died of disease in Winchester, Va. Wounded and captured at the Second Battle of Bull Run on Aug. 30, 1862, Patrick was released in January 1863 after a little more than four months' captivity. But sometime in November 1863, he came down with a deadly case of dysentery and chronic diarrhea, causing a  "bloody flux," according to Sergeant Hiram Lewis, a comrade in Company C.

On Dec. 19, 1863, Lewis wrote a short note to William recounting the circumstances of Patrick's death in late November in Loudon, Tenn., "on the east Tenessee and Georgia Railroad" during a march to Knoxville. "It is with a sad hart that I set down to pen you a few lines ... " the sergeant's two-page letter began.

Found among documents for Isabella Henry's case for a pension after Patrick's death, Lewis' original letter and a transcription appear below. James Henry's remains are buried in Winchester (Va.) National Cemetery; Patrick is buried in Chattanooga (Tenn.) National Cemetery, Gravesite H-146.

National Archives via fold3.com.
Camp 73 Regt. Ohio Volunteers
Near Chatanooga, Tenessee
December 19th, 1863

Mr. William Henry
Dear Sir

It is with a sad hart that I set down to pen you a few lines to tell you the loss of our Company in the loss of your brother Patrick. He died on the march to Knoxville at a place called Louden on the east Tenessee and Georgia Railroad. He was first taking with the cronic dirier and it turn to the bloody flux. In the loss of your Brother we have lost a good soldier. He was always at his post and done his duty like a soldier and a gentleman. I grieve with you and your famely for he has always prove himself a friend to me. We have got his knapsack and his blanket and we intend to take ...
National Archives via fold3.com.
... good care of them and if we should be so lucky as to get home we will try and fetch them home with us. Patrick had five dollars with him and the Company all give him one dollar apiece. And we thought that would do him entell we got back. But when we got back he had died and was already buried. And he was buried decent. He has about one month and half pay coming to him.

Now William i hasten to send this to you know the fact and if you wish to know ennything more why write to me and i will do all that i can.

Nothing more
Your friend

Hiram Lewis

For more Civil War condolence letters on my blog, go here, here, here and here.

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