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.
Co. H, 40th Reg Indiana Vol. Inf.
Camp Chattanooga Tennessee Dec. 1863
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