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101st Ohio Infantry - Death Notification Grouping

Item LTR-9449
1863 William H. Williams
Price: $875.00


Four original Civil War soldier's letter pertaining to the death of Sergeant William H. Williams, 101st Ohio Infantry. (4 letters written in period ink and war date, for a total of 11 pages).

Letter #1 Sergeant William Williams to his mother (March 30, 1863)

Murfreesboro, Tennessee
March the 30th 1863

Dear Mother,

It is with much pleasure that I take my pen in hand to commensurate to you a few of my thoughts and to let you know that I am well at present and hope that you are oft enjoying the same blessing. Since I last wrote to you, we have moved our camp about two miles nearer Murfreesboro town. We now have a beautiful camp in sight of town and I enjoy myself first rate. I hear the probability at present is that we will remain here a considerable length of time. Will have cleaned the ground of nicely and fixed everything in order and it looks like home more than anyplace we have been for a long time.

The weather at present is somewhat unpleasant. Though it has been very nice for the last week. Winter is about over here. The peach trees have been in bloom for two weeks and the grass is beginning to start nicely and everything looks as pleasant may be in a land of war and bloodshed. But mother, the cruel war is still raging as bad as ever and the prospect of it closing as dim as ever. Our forces are still skirmishing with the enemy more or less every day. From all reports, General Bragg is preparing to attack us as fast as possible. At least we are preparing to receive him as fast as we can. The Town of Murfreesboro is as well fortified or will be soon as any place in the states. Old Rosecrans is not afraid of them. He is the right man and in the right place. All in the Army of the Cumberland have great faith in him. It is reported that the rebel forces at Vicksburg are reinforcing General Bragg in order to be able to drive Rosecrans out of Murfreesboro. They may try it and make the most bloody contest of the war. But never can succeed in the driving us out of our forts. We all feel sure of a victory if they do attack us. Though many of us may never live to cry victory. But will lay upon the hard war field to decay beneath the scorching rays of the sun as many others have done at the inevitable battle of Murfreesboro in days gone by. Though not forgotten. Mother, when I think of the screams and groans of dying men at that battle. I hope never to have to escape in another. It seems to me that there has been blood enough spilled already in this war to suffice to disgust anybody against war under any circumstances.

But as my time is somewhat limited, I must hasten to a close for this time. I sent my money on the 18th of March. I sent it by Express to Martin Deal of Bucyrus. We are going on picket tomorrow morning. So, I will not write much this time but intend to write again soon. I want you all to write to me often and I will write as often as I can. Tell Dave I will answer this soon if nothing happens.

Give my respects to all the friends and tell them to write to me. I got a letter from Byron Nye some time ago. But have not had time to answer it yet. Tell Libby I got her letter some time since and was much pleased with it. For it gave very good satisfaction about the good Old Home and farm and things in general. I will answer her letter as soon as I get time. Tell Mary to write also. I like to hear from her. But I must close for this time so no more.

But remain your affectionate son,
William H. Williams

Letter #2 Major Bedan McDonald to William’s Mother (April 25, 1863)
Major Bedan B. McDonald of the 101st Ohio Infantry (Captured at Chickamauga, Escaped from Libby Prison and was wounded at Franklin).

Murfreesboro, Tennessee
April 25th 1863

Mrs. Elizabeth Williams
Holmes Township
Crawford County, Ohio

Dear Madam,

I am constrained through a sense of duty, to send you the sad intelligence of the death of your son William. He died at ½ past 12 o’clock this morning at General Field Hospital near Murfreesboro, Tennessee of pneumonia. He had not been long sick. He was unwell but was on duty with his company on the 16th of this month. The following day he was taken to the hospital and we had no idea of his case being so serious.

The hospital that he died at is some two miles from where we are camped. Yesterday we learned that he was very sick and A. J. Quaintance went to stay with him last night. He had $32 by him that we used to help pay expense of sending his remains home. As he requested that he would be sent home. I have already made arrangements for a coffin and with the Express Company also. The coffin costs $38 and Express charges $30, making in all $68. His Uncle Joseph Williams is present and he furnishes the balance required amounting to $36.

I hope the corpse will go safely and that our efforts will prove satisfactorily to you.

Very Respectfully,
Your Obedient Servant,
B. B. McDonald

Letter #3 Chaplain Stuff to William’s Mother (April 25, 1863)

General Field Hospital

April 25th 1863

Mrs. E. Williams,

I presume that you have been advised of the sickness of your son, W. H. Williams of the 101st Ohio Infantry and probably of its fatal termination this morning at one o’clock. I sympathize with you deeply in your sad bereavement. But few mothers are permitted to offer a more noble sacrifice upon the altar of our common country.

He died at his post, with his armor on, in sight of Heaven. My acquaintance with him was short, only five days. He was removed from the Regimental Hospital to this General Field Hospital on the 21st inst. I had an interview with him soon after his arrival. I was impressed then that he was marked for an early tomb. I found him fully prepared. At every subsequent interview, his soul was clear. I saw him yesterday afternoon. He was suffering intensely. He spoke of his widowed mother feelingly. It was the only thing that caused him trial, to die so far away from home. I visited him last evening. He was conscious at intervals of few moments. He knew me and expressed himself fully resigned and prepared for his fate. He passed away quietly this morning at one o’clock. Among the fifteen hundred sick in this hospital, not one has impressed me more favorably with a ripe Christian experience and a preparation for the world of light. You have lost a son, a precious Christian son and suffer in this sad bereavement as only a mother can realize. But the church and the world suffer when such young men are called away. There is a sympathizing Savior, passed into the Heavens, who sympathizes with you in your afflictions. I pray that this deep affliction may be sanctified to your spiritual good and that mother and son may meet in Heaven. You will pardon me for this intrusion as a stranger in the hour of your sorrow. I thought it might somewhat mitigate your grief to know that he was prepared for his fate.

Yours in Christ,

G. L. S. Stuff
42nd Illinois
General Field Hospital

Letter #4 Sergeant John A Roberts to William’s Mother (May 13, 1863)

Murfreesboro, Tennessee
May 13, 1863

At this late hour, I propose doing what I determined to do when it first became our duty, painful as it seemed to inform you of the death of your dear son. I know no one can express the grief and deep-felt sorrow that a mother feels at unwelcome news such as this.

But circumstanced as I am, I feel it my duty not only as a neighbor but as a friend to write you and if possible, to sympathize in some little degree with you and your bereaved family. And I hope I shall not fail in my purpose, though it e done in a very homely and soldierlike rough manner. For I know how many prayers go up from a northern mother’s heart for the noble and brave hearted son sent to subdue this unholy rebellion.

I know how many earnest inquiries are made for the loved ones away on the tented field. I feel we know how often a loving circle around the family hearth has talked about a longed to see a dear brother whom they have long since bid “farewell.” I know quite well how often the most earnest prayer has gone up from the family altar for absent ones that they may be kept out of the many and prevailing computations which all are necessarily surrounded when enlist into the Army. But it’s an unexpected hour and when you are least looking for it, sorrowful now comes. Perhaps at the midnight hour the unwelcome dispatch arrives informing you of the death of your son. That loved one is now no more of his lifeless corpse. That you may pay the last tribute due from the living to the dead.

I have been acquainted with William for many years. We went to school together for many years. Playing at the same school boy games. But more especially within the 8 months I have even found him a cheerful, kind hearted boy. As a man, he has proved himself one of good moral character. Especially before his death, as many have remarked to me since, he had left off what few had expressed. He might have unheedingly fallen into the habit of wishing as almost everyone does now, more or less.

This goes to prove to me at least that as many, many of his comrades think he had begun to think very seriously of the future, sometime before he took sick, the last time he had been unwell for some weeks previously.

He was a brave and good soldier. While he lived, he served his country well and faithfully. He never refused to do duty and often when unfit for duty, he was at his post.

The last I saw of him I went to the hospital tent to see how he was getting along. He lay on his cot quite easy and talked freely. We talked of his going to the field hospital. I told him it often happened that hose going there never returned. He answered it was so, but he felt that he would soon be well again. Alas! Little do we know what a day will bring forth. I think he was taken to the Convalescent Camp within 24 hours from that time and as we had orders just then for several days not to leave the Regimental lines. I was not permitted to see him again. He lived about a week after leaving the camp. In his last illness, he expressed a wish to see all his comrades and exhort them to prepare for the futured. He told John Quaintance whom I sent over to stay with him at night. As soon as I heard of him being so sick, that he felt he was not long for this world. But he was not afraid to die, for it was well with him.

Oh that mother whose son has gone to a better world than this, need not weep anymore. For he is unquestionably the gainer by the change.

Be assured a mother’s faithful prayer is heard but sometimes in a mysterious and unknown way. But I will close hoping you will pardon anything unfitting or familiar in this which I proposed writing on the same day he died. And have not found time till now.

I will be pleased to give you any information in my power or do anything that may be of advantage to you concerning him.

From your sympathizing friend,

John Roberts