The Civil War: Son Dies of Illness While Serving With Union Army

Letters to family from lost son and others detail his time with the Union Army, and his last illness during the Civil War.

Content Tools

Telling the story of a lost son, the following letters were sent to Mrs. Remembrance Savidge during the Civil War. Her son, John, died in 1864 from an illness while serving with the Union Army.

Port Huston, S.C. 
January 21, A.D., 1864 
My dear friend, 

It is with great pleasure that I am permitted this morning to rite you a few lines to let you know that I have not forgotten you, yet tho I am many miles from you while you are at home enjoying the pleasures of life and I am in what is called the sunny south standing the stormes. We will stand the stormes, it won't be long till this cruel war is over. 

I am well at this time and the rest of the boys are hoping these few lines may find you in the same state of health. Well, John, I have saw some hard times since I saw you. We have bin in 18 fights, our company has only lost two men in battle. We have bin lucky. 

The boys that you know is all well. We have lost a good meney men by sickness. We are at Port Huston. We have bin to New Orleans and 300 miles west of there. When you write, direct your letters to Co. H, 118th Il1.'s Cavalry, Department of the Gulf. 

From friend Jesse F. Bennett  
To John Savidge 


Mrs. Savidge, 

Sis, I take my pen in hand to Inform you of our Wellfare, and to answer your letter I received a few Days ago. We are all right on the loose. I hope this may find you all the same. Well, the first is, I think, the girls, they had better all marry While they are at it, but there is a few more left yet. Well, what Does the copperhead's folks do for a living since we left? Well, Sis, I would rather have my name recorded and afloat off every treetop In these United States that I was an Abolitionist than to have it said I was opposed to the Administration. After this was done, the copperheads, if they was Down below our line for just one month, would come back the best Union men in the World. I am In hopes they will see their folly after While. Well, enough for this time. It is very Disagreeable today, so no more. 

From W.W. Williams, as ever  
To George Savidge 
Write soon. 


Decatur, Alabama  
April 4 
Dear Father, 

I thought I would write to you this morning to let you know that I am well, hoping this will find the family the same. It is very muddy here now, it rained all night. It rains about half of the time here now. 

We got here the 2nd of March about dark and camped in the woods that night. It snowed all night and in the morning there was about 10 inches of snow. About daylight we got up and marched five miles through the snow and mud. We then went into an old stable and stayed there two days. We have now got barracks built and I expect that we will stay here for some time. 

It is a nice place here on the Tennessee river. There is a Rebel force about 20 miles from here of about 8,000, and they are a-coming into our lines at the rate of 30 per day and a great many are enlisting in our Army. This the copperheads can't deny, for I see it myself. I got a letter from Mary the other day. Tell Warren to be a good boy and feed the calves. Want you to all write as often as you can, so I will close for this time. 



April 26 

Dear Father, 

I received your letter last night and was glad to hear from you. You said you have been making rails. I should think you was able to hire them made. You said you had sold Ben to Peg. I hope she will take care of him and not trade him off. I do not haft to expose myself very much. The other night I was on picket and it rained allmost all night, but I had my rubber and I did not get much wet. The Rebels still keeps a scare here but I don't think they have any notion of attacking us here. Our scouts are fighting them every day. 

The boys are all well. Marlow has not got to the regiment yet, but we are looking for him soon. Is Langley going west this summer and what is he doing this summer? I want you to tell me what regiment Jim Williams in, there are several Ohio regiments here. I have no news to write, we eat bread and meat here until we want a change and then we eat meat and bread. I will close for this time, write soon. 


April 29 
Dear Brother, 

I take this opportunity of writing to you to let you know we are all well and hope this will find you all well. We have marching orders, I guess we will leave the first, which will be the day after tomorrow. I do not know where we will go. There is a man in here in the 43rd Ohio by the name of Budd. I am going to hunt him up tomorrow, he may be some of our relations. 

I want you to find out what regiment our folks are in and let me know. Ma'ybe I can find some. I guess I will close for now. - have no news to write. You must write and tell me all the news. 


Chicamauga Creek, Georgia  
May 6, 1864 
Dear Brother 

As I had a little spare time today I thought I would write to you. I received your letter the 30th and we started the next morning, so this is the first time I have had time to write. 

We have traveled 160 miles. We walked about 80 miles. We traveled through the Cumberland Mountains. We camped last night on the Chicamauga battlefield. It was quite a sight for me. The trees were shot off by the hundreds. We passed Lookout Mountain, Mission Ridge and Chattanooga. This country shows war. I don't think we will travel very far for awhile unless the Rebels retreat, for they are only fifteen miles from here. We have a heavy force here. I stood the tramp first rate. 

We have plenty to eat, hardtack and sow belly. I can eat a pound of sow belly at a meal It is a good place here to break boys in. There is not news here so I will close. I want you to write often, for I don't know when I will write again. Direct via Nashville and they will get it here all right. 


Saturday, June 30 
Sister Lisa, 

I for the first time will try to write a few lines to you to let you know how I get along. I am at the hospital, yet, but I am getting along first rate. I am very weak yet. I think I will be able to go to the regiments in about a week. Tom Calihan is here with me, he does not gain very fast. Wilson is here now. 

We have moved 15 miles from Heworth. We left the boys there, but I don't expect they are there now. They expected to leave there for the front. There is about 300 sick and wounded here. 

We don't live very well here. Liza, if I had a piece of our light bread I could eat it very well We eat hardtack here. We got soda crackers for dinner, they tasted good to me. Better than any biscuits I ever ate. We get a few dried apples once in awhile. I was out today and gathered some huckleberries and served them. 

They taste like curns, there is lots of them here. 

I guess I will close for this time. I want you all to write often for I like to hear from you – direct to John W. Savidge, 644 Di vision by via Chattanooga. 


Hospital of the 4th Division  
15th A. C. 
Allatoona, Georgia, July 
Mr. Savidge, 

Not being able to write myself I have this morning got a comrade to write a few lines for me. I have been very low for about a month and haven't been writing much myself, but Tommy Calihan has written home regular and has told his folks how John was. 

I supposed you would learn from them that John came here with Diareah, and he improved for sometime and got able to get around. He went once to pick some berries and overdone himself and was taken down with fever and has been very low ever since for over a week. 

I will not give you any false hopes for I know you would rather know the worst. It is thought that he cannot get well. But still there is Hope as long as there is life. We will write again in a few days and let you know how he is. 

It is a long road and very uncertain whether you will get the letters or not, but we will write as often as possible. I believe this is all for this time. You must hope for the best. It is not worthwhile for you to write to us as we are about forty miles from Regiment and would not get your letters. 

Believe me as ever, 
Respectfully Yours,  
Wilson L. Gosnell 


Camp near Savannah, Georgia  
Dec. 26th, 1864 
Kind Friend Mrs. Savidge, 

I have just been talking with Thomas Calihan concerning Johnny's affairs as you requested of me and I will write it to you as he told me all he knew concerning Johnny while he was sick. 

Concerning his clothing, he had none, only the clothing he had on and was buried in them. He had a blanket, it was turned over to the hospital sturat and Tommy doesn't know what become of it. Tommy says he took care of him most of the time he was sick. He says he doesn't know what became of his pocketbook. Tommy says he had his senses all the time except the last three or four days, when he would call for his mother frequently. 

The chaplain of our regiment was with him a good bit while he was sick and was with him when he died and helped to bury him. His name was Wycoff. He is a very fine man and a good minister. He is one of the kindest men I nearly ever knew and is very good and kind to the sick and wounded. 

You wished to know of me if safe to go after John. I will say it is in enemies' country and we have no army anywhere near there and there is not railroad within fifty or sixty miles of there. I mean Rome, Georgia, where he is buried. There was a railroad running to Rome, but when the army left that country the railroads were all destroyed, So it would be almost impossible for you to go there and get his body. 

In your letter you said Hubert said John was never well after he left Ottawa. That was not true. For awhile he was at Decatur, Alabamy, and he had as good health as ever and for sometime after he left there. I believe I have told you all concerning Johnny, Mrs. Savidge. 

I am very thankful to you for your kindness in sending socks, although I never received them, but am thankful to you for your kindness. This leaves me in good health, and hoping this may reach you and find you and your family well, so no more, but remaining your friend as ever, 

Francis M. Frank 

Submitted by Carmilee Larson
Tennessee, Illinois

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then CAPPER’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from CAPPER’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.