Sad Duty, Death Notification Letter

One of the saddest moments during a soldier’s life must have been notifying family members that a loved one had died. Going through the pension paperwork for Private Taylor McIntosh’s (Co. H) mother, Eliza McIntosh, I noticed a letter sent to her from Chattanooga on a 40th Indiana Infantry letterhead. The news was not good, Private Taylor McIntosh received a head wound during the assault up Missionary Ridge, November 25th, 1863. On December 19th, 1863 McIntosh would die of his wound in one of the hospitals established in Chattanooga, TN.

I am a little confused who wrote the letter, as it has two signatures. The first signature is William Oliver of Company C, he was from Waveland, Indiana, as was Taylor McIntosh. The two were probably close friends before the war and remained close while serving in the regiment. The rolls show William Oliver is later killed during the assault at Kenesaw Mt., June 27, 1864.

The second signature is from the 1st Lt. of Company H, John.C. Barnhart. John Barnhart was from Lafayette, Indiana, he mustered in as a corporal in Company H. John was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on December 14, 1862. The muster roll shows Barnhart resigning on November 22, 1863 before the Missionary Ridge attack. He is still in Chattanooga almost a month after resigning from the regiment, possibly waiting for the paperwork to go through.

Some of the content in the letter makes me believe that William Oliver is the author of the letter. At the end of the letter is the statement, “as I Rite (wrote) to you a few days ago” and he wanted Eliza McIntosh to correspond back. If Barnhart wanted Eliza to write him back, he gave no forwarding address to Lafayette, and does not mention resigning.  Lt. Barnhart could have put Oliver’s words down on paper, or the two were close friends with McIntosh and composed the letter together on Barnhart’s 40th Indiana letterhead.

I have tried to keep everything the way it appears in the letter. Not many punctuations were used.

Head Quarters

Co. H, 40th Reg Indiana Vol. Inf.

Camp Chattanooga Tennessee Dec. 1863

Eliza McIntosh

Dear Madam

I take my pen in hand to inform

you of the death of your son he

Died yesterday morning the 19 of Dec.

he was wounded the 25 of November

and lived until yesterday morning

he was well cared for and had all

the care that a soldier could hav

him in the Army Hospitals

I was to see him Every Day after

I came up I was not (with) him at the

time of the Battle But was here

in a few days after

His things that you sent to him

is here and they will be sent to

Just as soon as the administrators

Can Do it or the money and will

Be Sent first as they think Proper

But you will get Every Thing that he

had or the amount of it in money

He died as a True Soldier and

One that Loved his country

he died fighting for the Rites of

man and God and no man

never Died in a more nobler

Cause. Well as I Rite you

a letter afew days a go

I will close by asking

you to write to me

Wm. Oliver  – (either H or &)

J. C. Barmheart

1st Lt. Co. H 40th Ind Vols


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