Friday, October 05, 2018

Soldier snapshot: From Sharpsburg, Md., to death in Nashville

Samuel Piper, dressed in civilian clothes, served in the 75th Illinois.
(Photo courtesy Andrea Wambold)

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In an undated photograph in a family history, a handsome Samuel Piper stares intently at the camera, his lips clenched tightly and long hair combed back. Probably in his late teens, he wears a bow tie and a jacket, perhaps formal attire for a family gathering or a church service. Where the photograph was taken is unknown, although we can surmise it was somewhere in Illinois. Jacob and Anna Piper left their Maryland farm with Samuel and their five other children in the spring of 1845, traveling 1,000 miles by wagon in 35 days and settling in Ogle County.

Judging from an account of their journey west, the Pipers were a hardy bunch.

Samuel Piper's marker in a cemetery in Mt. Morris, Ill.
(Find A Grave)
"During one day they traveled twenty-four miles without coming to a house or a settled farm," an Ogle County history noted. "In journeying through Ohio in the heavy timber, they saw thousands of squirrels scampering and playing in the trees and on the ground ..."

When he was old enough to aid his parents, Samuel helped with the "many duties about the farm pertaining to a boys life in that day," according to a family history. In his "spare time," he attended school at the "little 'Red brick'  school house near the church where he received a common school education."

On Aug. 12, 1862, 21-year-old Samuel enlisted in the 75th Illinois, mustering into Company G. But his service would be short. While stationed in Union-occupied Nashville, Piper became severely ill with typhoid fever in late fall 1862. Samuel was recovering when he was ordered to help care for wounded soldiers, the family history noted, and he suffered a relapse. The end for him came Dec. 1, probably at one of the many hospitals established by the Federal medical corps in the city along the Cumberland River.

When Samuel's parents in Illinois and relatives in Maryland received word of his death is unknown. By December 1862, Samuel's Uncle Henry of Sharpsburg, Md., had also been rocked by civil war. On Sept. 17, 1862, his farm -- Confederate General James Longstreet's headquarters -- lay in ruins and his dining room was filled with dead soldiers, victims of the Battle of Antietam.

The remains of Samuel, who was born in Sharpsburg, were buried in North Grove Christian Church Cemetery in Mt. Morris, Ill.

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-- Historical Encyclopedia of Illinois and History of Ogle County, Vol. 2, Munsell Publishing Company, 1909
-- Piper family history, typewritten manuscript compiled in 1930s, courtesy Andrea Wambold.

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