107th Illinois Infantry Civil War Letter - Dying Soldiers In Tennessee Content
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107th Illinois Infantry Civil War Letter - Dying Soldiers In Tennessee Content :
CIVIL WAR LETTERAbout George Messer:George Messer, ca. 1860. Enlistment records say he had dark hair and blue eyes.
George Messer of the 107th Illinois Infantry was “a good man and a man that I thought a heap of. He was liked in his company and regiment but he is now gone where there is no trouble, no war, nor no fighting. Tell his wife that he is buried nice and was well cared for whilst sick.” So wrote a fellow soldier following the discovery of George’s death from chronic diarrhea late in December 1863 at the Lamar House Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee.
There is nothing remarkable about George Messer to distinguish him from the thousandsof men who answered their country’s call for volunteers to put down the rebellion. He was a simple carpenter from rural Illinois who sought toacquirehis share of the American dream — a home to call his own and a loving family to love and support. Buthis sense of patriotic duty caused him toput those dreams on hold until the rebellion was ended. Unfortunately for George — and the family he left in Illinois — that day did not come before he succumbed to the disease that plagued him throughout most of his term of service. Though he never fired a gun at the enemy, he did not desert nor shirk his duty when he was capable of fulfilling it like several others in his regiment. Though he saw others less qualified than himself rise to positions of leadership in the regiment, he maintained his spirit and did his best to comfort and give hope to those he left behind in Illinois.
January 4th 1864
I am in Knoxville today and have been since last Thursday night. I came down here from Strawberry Plain 16 miles above here. I was ordered here to look after convalescents belonging to our regiment which was left behind when the command left this place. I expect to leave for the regiment in the morning. There is a good many that are very poorly and some are dying.
I feel sorry to report that George Messer is dead. He died between Christmas & New Years. He was a fine man & a good soldier. We deeply mourn his loss but he died in a good cause. I want you to inform his friends of his death. What has become of his money is more than I can tell. He was in the hospital and I went to see about his effects and ($3.00) three dollars was all that could be reported or found with a watch and a few other things of but little or no account. I will get those things and take them to the Capt. and let him dispose of them.
I wrote you a letter and sent by Col. Kelly concerning my failings as it regards my staying in the army. I am still in the same fix yet. I don’t know what to do. I have a very unpleasant situation and I have the name of being one of the faithful men of our regiment. And if I had a Capt. worth anything, I should try and stay as long as my health would admit of me doing — and I think I stand it pretty well or as well as the most of them do. I have had the diarrhea pretty bad at times but it does not seem to hurt me very bad as yet. And if it gets no worse, I think I can stand it &c.
Everything is very high here. Prices you can’t reach with a twenty-foot pole. Boards from $1.50 to $2.00 per day and sometimes can’t be got at that. And government rations can’t be got for the commissioned officers so that makes it very hard on us to pay the prices for grub in this country &c.
Well, I must close for the present. I wish you to write me as soon as you can and give me all the news that is and let me know what you are a doing and all about your business.
I remain your brother as ever. — Lieut. J[ohn] D. Graham
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