Archive for the ‘Death’ Category

Q. M. Dept. 26th Ret. N.C. Troops

Culpepper C.H. Va July 31st, 1863

Col. H. K. Burgwyn Raleigh N Ca


My Dear Sir,

I Recd your  letter a few days ago & will now reply. I had to remain with the wagon train during the engagement consequently did not see Col Burgwyn in his last moments. This I shall always regret. He has often told me if he was wounded he wished me to take care of him if he were killed to send his body home. It was late in the evening of the 1st when I heard the dreadful news; the team being harnessed up to move in any direction. There we had to remain until near daylight of the 2nd when we were ordered down. Being 5 or 6 miles in the rear & wagons passing all the time it was near sunrise when I arrived in the vicinity of the battle field of the 1st. I immediately went after the corpse. Maj. Jones had a guard placed over it during the night having had it removed about half a mile to the rear. How beautiful he looked even in death. There was none of the usual hideous appearance, generally apparent in those killed while contending in mortal strife, but he looked like one just fallen asleep. How could I doubt, looking on him for a moment that his sprit had flown where sorrow & suffering were no more. I will here make a remark: the Col & myself messed together we were more intimately connected than men can possibly be in civil life & I had an insight of his whole character. I have often been struck with his high sense of honor especially in a spiritual view. He put his trust in a higher power than the puny arm of man could afford & I would say to his afflicted relations, mourn not as those without a hope, but rather look forward to the time when they can meet him in endless happiness. No Surgeon attended him after he fell. One of Co. B. the name I cannot find out cought him & laid him gently on the ground. Sgt. Young of Pettigrew’s staff came up to him soon afterwards & his last words were to him as Maj. Collins has described to you. I visited the spot the next day. A prettier place could not have been selected if sought for being in a dense shade of oak on the green grass. His scabbard had been shot away before; when he received his death wound he was a few steps in advance of the regt. his sword in his right & the flag in his left hand cheering on his men. He had turned to see how they were acting which threw his right side to the enemy. The ball passed through both lungs & he fell or rather was laid in such a position that he bled in  ternally. The men passed on & here under the broad canopy of heaven he died as a patriot could only wish. He had some of his best stimulant in his flask. Sgt. Young gave it him to drink, which revived him a little when he sent the message in Mj Collins note. I suppose you saw Sgt. Young who escorted Gen. Pettigrew’s remains to Raleigh. No Surgeon was needed for he was beyond mortal aid. I would give anything if I could have been here with him & heard his dying words.  I regret exceedingly I could not perform my promise to him of sending his corpse home but it was impossible. As I stated in my letter of the 4th inst, we buried him about 75 yds from the turnpike leading from Gettysburg to Chambersburg, on the right hand side 2 miles from the latter directly east of a walnut tree & near it Capt. Iredell of the 47th is on his left side & Capt Wilson Co B of the 26th on his right. I was fearful to put his Uniform coat on knowing if the vandal Yankees knew it they would disinter him. I wrapped him closely in his red woolen blanket to preserve the body as much as possible. Mj Jones has sent you a description of the battle so I will not attempt it. The Cols watch, glass, pocket book & two memoranda books were me the night of the 1st. These I will carefully preserve.  All trunks had to be sent back from Hamiltons crossing to Richmond by order of Gen Lee none being allowed in the march. I think his papers were in his at least I cannot find any except the books refered to. By enquiries at the No Ca depot of B. W. Young my brother who has charge you will get it. Kinchin & I started from Williamsport Md. the 12th inst, with  my Sgt Mr. Lane who was going with wounded to Staunton. I gave him the strongest pass I could with instructions to Lane if he could not get transportation for the horses by rail. to send him by the safest route to Garysburg or Raleigh. I gave Kinchin $95. of the 135 in the pocket book not knowing what might happen to him on the way,  believing you would not have the horses suffer if possible. Sgt Lane is somewhere between Staunton & Gordonsville with the wagon he carried off & I have not heard either from him or Kinchin since they left me. I supposed K. had reached home safely but by your letter I see he has not & I am a little uneasy. I hope however by the time you get this he will be safely home. I told him to wrap the Cols sword safely in his bed cloths & carry it through knowing how highly you would prize it. What he could not carry I gave Mr. Lane instructions to take good care of. At the time they left me I did not know but what we would advance again into Pa. hence I did not keep anything except what I could carry with me. His best uniform suit was in the medical wagon.


Source: William HS Burgwyn Papers, North Caroilna State Archives, Raleigh and Digital NC.

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The Child’s Last Sleep

Alas our little flower of flowers

                Is gathered to her mother earth,

And in a fairer world than ours

                She has another birth

She turned her sweet face to the light,

                She thought the rainbow spanned the air,

And when it vanished from her sight,

                Lo, Paradise was there.

She laid her little hand in thine,

                And motioned for one other kiss,

And with that tender parting sign,

                Passed into endless bliss.

She raised her arms with gentle grace,

                As though to greet some angel guest,

And with the welcome on her face,

                Sunk to her dreamless rest.

We watched in fear her slumbers deep,

                So faint was each expiring breath,

And to the last we thought it sleep-

                It was the sleep of death.

Slowly she closed, without a pain,

                Her loving eyes of cloudless blue,

And when her vision cleared again,

                Her heaven was cloudless too.

Source: North Carolina Whig (Charlotte, NC), December 2, 1862 as found in www.digitalnc.org.

Daughter of a NC soldier from the 4th NC

Daughter of a NC soldier from the 4th NC

** Note: In the 1850s in America the infant mortality rate in the United States was estimated at nearly 22% for babies born for whites and 34% for African American children.  Mortality rates decreased sharply as children aged, with the most vulnerable periods occurring between birth and 4 years.

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May 14, 2862

Went out to see Mrs Spruill and the girls.  Found them composed & resigned.  Poor Rebecca, as I sat by her dead body & thought of her past life, of all she had suffered mentally & bodily, I could not mourn for her.  Yet I felt her death greatly.  She was a tie to my youth & tho I have been unable to see much of her latterly yet she was one of those upon whom I rested, to whom I spoke unreservedly, & who reposed in me.  Few people look on me with the eyes of favour that she did, few judge me so leniently, & to fewer still does my society & presence give the pleasure that it did to her.

Source: Edmondston, Catherine Ann Devereux, 1823-1875, Journal of a Secesh Lady: The Diary of Catherine Ann Devereux Edmondston 1860-1866. Crabtree, Beth G and Patton, James W., (Raleigh, NC: North Carolina Division of Archives and History, 1979). http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/478.html


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            Died.—In Wilkesboro, on the 13th ultimo, Leander B. Carmichael, Esq.  He was a brother of Maj. A. B. Carmichael who was killed the day following in the battle below Newbern.  Three grown brothers of this family have died in the last twelve months.


 Source: The Greensborough Patriot, April 10, 1862 as found in Confederate Newspaper Project


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Tribute of Respect.

 Camp Near Kinston,

March 27th, 1862

          At a company meeting of the Guilford Grays, the following resolutions were offered, and adopted, as an expression of their respect for the memory of their late comrade in arms, Samuel A. Hunter, who fell in the battle near Newbern, Friday 14th inst.

            Whereas, Our companion and friend, Samuel A. Hunter was taken from us while bravely standing at his post attempting with us, to drive back the invading foe, and protect the rights and liberties of our beloved country; and whereas, by a constant intercourse for nearly ten months, he had endeared himself to the hearts of us all, both as a gentleman, patriot and Christian.  Therefore be it.

            Resolved, That in the death of our late brother we have lost a tried friend, and our State a good soldier; who attested his devotion to the Commonwealth that gave him birth, and the cause in which she is now struggling, by a ready obedience to the commands of all officers placed over him, a cheerful endurance of the hardships of the Camp and finally by offering up his life in her defense.

             Resolved, That while we deeply feel our losse, we meekly submit to the will of a righteous God, knowing that though his dealings with men are mysterious and inscrutable, yet kind and merciful are all His ways.

             Resolved, That we offer our heart felt sympathies to the family of our brother, at the same time referring them to the sweet consolations of the Bible; for though their bereavement be sad, yet they should not mourn those without hope: “He is not dead, but sleepeth.”

             Resolved, That a copy of these resolutions be sent to the family of the deceased, and also to the “Greensboro Patriot” and “Way of the World” for publication.



Source:   The Greensborough Patriot, April 3, 1862 as found in Confederate Newspaper Project


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To Preserve Dead Bodies

 The following preparation, which has been used on many occasions for thirty or forty years, comes highly recommended for the preservation of dead bodies. It will, in great degree, prevent the offensive odor from corpses; and, while the remains of so many of our deceased soldiers are being transported from the camps homeward, it may be of service to publish: Take two pounds of common salt, two pounds of alum, one pound of saltpeter- dissolve in six gallons of water and keep the shrouding wet with the mixture.

Source: Charleston Tri-Weekly Mercury, March 22, 1862 as found in John Hammond Moore, ed., The Confederate Housewife (Columbia, SC: Summerhouse Press, 1997).

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Saturday 22nd

I finished my dress soon after dinner. I then darned some stockings & fixed some to heel for Pinck. I heeled one pair & another ready to pick up the stitches for Pinck.

Sunday 23rd [March 1862]

J. Frady staid here last night. He came to settle about hauling that corpse.* Atheline is down with toothache.

* The body was that of a young soldier, Chris Coffle, that Cornelia reported being brought home on the 4th here: http://wp.me/p1qIB8-DP

Source: Diary of Cornelia Henry in Fear in North Carolina: The Civil War Journal and Letters of the Henry Family. Clinard, Karen L. and Russell, Richard, eds. (Asheville, NC: Reminiscing Books, 2008).

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