"On the Battlefield near Kennesaw Mountain, June 27th, 186...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
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Description"On the Battlefield near Kennesaw Mountain, June 27th, 1864": Letter addressed to Mrs. G.R. Jones notifying her of her son's death in the Battle that day.
A four-page letter in ink written by Austin S. Johnston, Co. I of the 88th Illinois Infantry. The letter relates the circumstances of the death of Private Robert Jones, Co. E, in the 88th Illinois Infantry. He was killed in the battle of Kennesaw Mountain on June 27th, 1864, the same date as the letter. This sad letter reads in part:
"On the Battlefield Near Kennesaw Mountain, Ga., June 27th, 1864.
Mrs. G. R. Jones, Dear Madam,
Duty compels me to be the bearer of sad tidings to you and your family,
and were it possible, I would shrink from the task, but at the request of Capt.
Holden, I address you, and these lines must convey to you the painful intelligence
of your son's death."
"He was killed today about 11 o'clock, while gallantly assisting our General and his staff in rallying the troops to a daring charge on the enemies' works."
"Robert has been acting as orderly at our Brigade Head Quarters since January 31st and a more brave, and noble boy never sat on a horse."
"At about 10 o'clock today, he came to where our Head Quarters' tents are, and got a canteen of water for the General, and as he was about riding away, he turned to two or three of us, who were present and remarked, "Don't some of you want to take my place today? I want to write a letter to my mother and am afraid them Johnny Rebs will dish me up."
"Then again as he finally rode away, he remarked, "Well, if I fall, put a good boy in my place."
"All was said in a joking manner, and nothing was thought of it until an hour later, his body was brought in."
"Poor Bobby, as we all called him, we all loved him, and everyone spoke his praises as being one of the most gallant and brave boys we ever saw. He was always so good natured and full of fun. None knew him but to love him."
"He was pierced with a Rebel bullet through the heart and died without a struggle. His body was brought to Head Quarters and buried nicely along side of some 9 or 10 other heroes who fell today and two days since."
"Our whole line was ordered to advance this morning, and if possible take the 1st line of Rebel works. The order was being carried out but our Division was severely repulsed with a heavy loss. The Lt. Col. commanding our Regt. 88th Illinois was killed just as they were ordered to fall back."
"I send you with this mail Bobbie's Purse & contents, just as it was taken from him with two letters he had lately received. The purse contains 5 pieces of silver (pocket keepsakes of his), a Sutler ticket, his detail as Orderly, also a cravat or necktie, and a small bit of soap. If he had any other trinkets, they are probably back in his knapsack, as all knapsacks were sent to the rear when we left Cleveland, Tenn. I think however he had no other things that you would prize."
"His Captain will make out his final statement and forward it to Washington and just can then through some Government Agent get his back pay and bounty. There will be $75 bounty due him and pay from the 1st of January."
"Bobbie was not a wild or reckless boy, but frank and openhearted and generous to a fault. He had lots of friends and were it possible, we would cheerfully send his remains home, but the weather is too warm. Besides General Sherman has issued an order that none shall be removed until cold weather."
"His grave is on a little eminence in an open woods with a ranch railing around it, and a board at the head bearing the following inscription: ‘R. Jones, Co. E, 88th Illinois, killed June 27, 1864.' "
"We who knew him offer you our heartfelt sympathy in this severe affliction and would gladly bear a portion of the burden were it in our power. But you have this to comfort you. Your son died in a noble cause while gallantly doing his duty in doing his share towards conquering an insolent foe whose sole aim is to destroy our entire Government."
"With this consolation and the knowledge that he has passed to a better land, may you have fortitude to bear this strike as from Him, who doeth all things well."
"Should you desire any further information, I will cheerfully reply to any communication you see proper to address me. With true respect, I remain your friend, A. S. Johnston, Forage Master, 1st Brigade, 2nd Div. 4th Corps."
"I have a brother at 150 Bowery, New York, should you see fit to call upon him and make his acquaintance, I should be glad to have you do so. His name is J. H. Johnston."
The letter has staining but all ink is dark and easily read. Mrs. Jones submitted this letter to the Pension Office on May 25th, 1888 to prove her claim. The letter is marked with the Pension Office stamp on the last page, when it was returned to her. One of the most touching next-of-kin letters we have seen. From the Calvin Packard Civil War Battlefield Letter Collection
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