Phila., July 5th 1863

 

My dear Brother,

Before this reaches you the papers will have told you that John’s life has been given to his country.  You know of the raid into Penna. in bringing up his troops near Gettysburg (almost at home) a minnie [sic] ball entered his head behind the ear passing round the skull and lodging in his breast.  His orderly (an intelligent man and devoted to John) was nearest him as he fell from the horse and caught him but he never spoke and when asked if he suffered only slightly smiled.  As they were only 50 yards from the rebs, they had to make haste to get the body off.  A blanket was picked up, and the orderly with others carried him from the field to a house nearest them.  An ambulance was brought the farmers taking down fences to let it pass and showing the by ways to the depot.  The remains reached Balt. on Thursday morning [and] were at once taken to the embalmers where they remained till 8 in the evening.  Just as G & I were getting in the carriage to go see them (about 6 in the evening) Sam came & went with.  Twas quite natural.  I had taken 2 flags and flowers that I put on his coffin.  Six of his personal staff came with the remains.  At 8.30 we all left for Phila. where we arrived at one o’clock; went to Kate’s.  Indeed Sam Witmer & Mr. [Temple?] were at the depot for us.  All Friday was spent in Phila.  On Saturday went in a private car at 8 o’c to Lancaster, where we arrived at 11 1/2 o’c.  The whole street was filled with people.  Flags at half mast draped with crape where ever one could be.  Went direct to the cemetery where 3 several clergy made short addresses.  8 or 9 of the old Reserves begged to act as pall bearers; of course twas granted.  We returned to Phila. in the 2 o’c train.  The staff were Maj. Riddle, Capt. Mitchell, Capt. Rosengarten, Capt. Weld, Capt. Wilcox; the orderly, Veil went also.  Clem. Barkley, Sam W & Sally, Mr. Temple, Lyd., Hal., Ellie, Sam & wife, G., Willie & myself were all that went.  ___ Lightner & Geo. Hoover got in on the way.  Close beside Father we laid him.  Kate was disappointed she could not go with, but twas not prudent.  Harry is in Carlisle doing good service with his battery, but in danger unless the report of Lee’s defeat is true.  Col. Kingsbury was left sick at the Eutaw House.  I never saw men so overcome as some of the staff & Geo. were.  The officers seemed to idolize John and thought he bore a charmed life so daring had been his career.  I could not write the half they said of him.  I ought to say Jim was at Safe Harbor but was sent for.  He was very nervous and restless.  Sam was more stoical.  Twas such a comfort to have the body so soon, and to have it look so natural but those metallic cases show so little of the person, which we regretted.  Around his neck was a little heart and medal.  We all thought a lady was the donor and must be prized and wished we could only know who & where she was.  In the valise were two letters from Eden Hall [Torrisdale?] signed Kate.  Friday morning a note came up stairs saying Mr. Ewing & Miss Hewitt wished to see the remains if agreeable.  Ellie asked “is she Kate.”  “Yes.”  So she & Hal went to receive her.  Poor lady, she had not been able to shed a tear till she saw him.  After a while she told they were to have been married after the war.  She had given him first to God then to his country then to herself.  (She said to him I stand third).  She seems to be a very superior person; a most lovely character, as she knew no one of the family she thought she ought not to come, but felt she could not resist the wish to see him again.  Then in the evening she came to ask if she might sit by him that night, so Ellie shared her vigil and never will regret it.  Ellie can & will tell you of it.  Several of her pictures were in the valise.  Her letters were sealed with his class ring, and on his finger was one with “dear Kate” inside.  We all regret he had not told some of us about it, and that we had known her, yet are happy she came and had all the comfort we could offer to her.  Four years ago they met coming from California (I think in 1860).  She had his consent to enter a religious life should she lose him and now she intends to do it, as the world has no interest for her now.  You would be so pleased with her letters.  They show such a delicate, refined mind so far above ordinary love epistles.  We feel so for her, tis like crushing the life out of her.  They would have been such a happy couple; were going to Europe after the war.  She is a lady of means.  I won’t send a personal description.  You would not be disappointed if you saw her, but we ought not to judge of looks under such circumstances.  I need not tell you what a thunder clap it was to us all.  We regret that you were not within reach and hoped Becky might come in time for a last look.  I believe the Lanc. people were disappointed at not being gratified in that respect but we thought he would not wish it, and we could not bear to have any spectacle or parade.  Ellie is writing you so between us I hope you will get a satisfactory account of all that has taken place.  Of your grief we all know, and Becky too will feel it deeply.

With love from us all, I am

         ever your attached sister,

                  Jennie