TOUCHING LETTER FROM 111TH PENNSYLVANIA SOLDIER TO THE SISTER OF A MORTALLY WOUNDED COMRADE

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4 page letter in pencil written by Henry Hatch and dated January 25, 1863, written to Miss Atkinson, sister of Christopher S. Atkinson, who was mortally wounded at Cedar Mountain, VA on August 9, 1862. Accompanied by what appears to be a hospital chit with Atkinson’s date and place of death, and the location of his grave [his first name is written incorrectly as Christian].  All in excellent condition, all text neatly written and legible.

Christopher S. Atkinson enlisted on 11/25/61 as a Corporal and on that date mustered into Co. F, 111th Pennsylvania infantry. Wounded at Cedar Mountain, the regiments first experience in battle. He died of his wounds on 8/28/62 at the general hospital in Alexandria, VA, and is buried in Alexandria National Cemetery in grave site# 210.

Henry Hatched enlisted as a Private on 11/25/61 and on that date mustered into Co. F, 111th PA Infantry; he was discharged for disability, date not stated – it seems this was due to wounds also received at Cedar Mountain, from what his letter implies.

Text of the letter reads:

January 25, 1863

Miss Atkinson

Dear Miss:

I received  your inquiring epistle this morning and was gratified to hear from a relative of C.S. Atkinson, a once loved hero who stood in the ranks with me and was first to fall of the Company. He was a young man that I loved dearly, a faithful comrade. I lament the loss of his company. I have been soothed many times by his cheering words and good counsels while far from kindred and home.

I will inform you to the best of my ability concerning your dear brother’s career. I saw him soon after he fell but could render him no assistance. Oh! Can you not realize my feelings at that time when voices of my comrades were forever hushed to mortal ears. I could not get to him on account of my own disability. As I was sent to a different hospital, I did not see him for sometime…soon after my arrival at the hospital, I was promised a discharge from the service which I received and then went to see him. I found him very low…his countenance seemed to say that he must soon pass from earth away. He said, “I want to see my friends, but I shall not on this shore of time.” I don’t know who he was alluding to, but I should judge his friends at home.

Oh, it was enough to soften the hardest heart to sit by his side and hear him talk. I did not stay as long with him as I should if I had been well myself. I was so weak that I dared not. I remained with him one day and one night. In the morning I said, “Kit, I must leave you. I hope you will soon recover,” passed a few words and then turned away. As I approached the open door, I turned again to gaze upon the loved form of my comrade. With a low tone he said, “Come back!” I advanced again to his bedside and with a friendly grasp and lingering look he exclaimed, “Henry, I am sure I shall never see you more.” The advice your brother gave me I shall never forget. He bade me a long farewell, and I left.

I would be very happy to see you for I believe I could converse with you with more satisfaction. It seemed as if your dear brother could hardly let me go. I never shall forget his earnest expressions. He entreated me in earnest accents to meet him in heaven for he felt that assurance of his acceptance with God and thought he would soon be there to meet that innumerable throng that are praising God around his throne. And I feel fully assured that  your dear brother is there.

I hope you may yet enjoy the society of your brother Robert, whom I have heard Christopher often mention. I  hope he may return to you once more.

-----H[enry] S Hatch

P.S. if it did not cost so much I would go to Erie and North East to see C’s friends…It would be so much more satisfaction to talk with them. Mrs. Johnson’s family thought so much of C and his company were mostly from that section.  [ld]

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