Graphic Chaplain’s Letter, Shiloh Campaign, 18th Missouri Infantry – “I saw the side of a dead mules face with one eye popping out…another similar mound, out of which the hind leg of a horse.” – “The rebels piled up six of their dead… the ground is covered with putrescent which flows from their decaying bodies, and the big green flies have deposit their eggs which soon became maggots.”
We rarely encounter good Chaplain letters, so when we read this one we were very pleased. Offered is a 4 legal size page letter in ink from Rev. John M. Garner, Chaplain of the 18th Missouri Regiment, USA, written to his daughter beginning April 4th & 5th, just before the Battle of Shiloh. Here are some of the great lines:

• “I feel like writing you a good long letter, so here goes on my knee, out in the woods, amidst the noise of camp life. I have spent a portion of the day in riding around for observation and recreation, and I may now tell what I have seen. I have never seen so many men together in my life. These are all well armed and will doubtful play well their part in crushing out this most wicked rebellion.”

• “The most solemn thing I saw today was a man of our regiment buried without coffin or box. We rolled him up in his blanket and laid him down in the cold ground and covered him up in the ground. I prayed at the grave and delivered a short address. How hard to die from home and be thus disposed of! Just how we are attached by three thousand rebels, and I must lay down my pen. No time for writing now.”

• “April 5th Morning. Good morning my daughter. I am still alive and well thank God, and all is quiet this morning… I rode to Pittsburg Landing, a little the busiest place I ever saw. There I saw ten steamers all loaded with soldiers & military stores. On the bank there must have been at least a thousand Government teams loading in forage and commissary stores for the several Brigades encamped hereabouts. In my little ramble I saw a large poplar tree with a hold through it made by a cannon ball during the battle at this place on the first day of March.”

• “A little way on I saw on several oaks the effects of the same battle. Riding up a hollow I saw a mound of fresh earth on approaching which I saw the side of a dead mule’s face with one eye popping out. Thought I, “Old fellow, you have been service.” Still on my way up, I saw another similar mound, out of which stuck the hind leg of a horse with the shoe on. Said I, “Well old fellow, there you are, you have seen your last battle.”

• “Just at the top of the hollow and on my right I saw still another mound which I approached, and what do you think I saw? At one end I saw the corner of a soldier’s blanket, I rode to the other end and there I saw a section of beefs hide, and a little further toward I met the forehead and nose of a Secesh. Well though I, “Old fellow you have fallen upon evil times, lying here between two logs with a beef skin and a very little dirt for your covering.”

• “A soldier who was in that fight told me that the rebel piled up six of their dead between those logs, then the beef hide and their blankets over them, and then fled, and that our men put the dirt on them. On the lower side of this mound the top of the ground is covered with putrescent which flows from their decaying bodies, and the big green flies have deposit their eggs which soon became maggots. What an end this is! My heart sickens to contemplate it.”

• “I asked a lady what had become of all the citizens in the community? To which she replied, “The bomb shells scared them off.” Then said I, “I suppose you are for the union, or you would have gone with them.” She replied, “I don’t know what we are for.” Then said I, “What is the pervading religious sentiment in this community?” To which she replied, “Methodist.” “Ah! Methodist!”, I replied, “The Madam, I understand all about it.” Thus the talk ended, and in a bland manner I bid the Dixie lady “Adieu”.

• “…at 4pm the rebels attacked us three thousand strong. The fight continued till 2 this morning… Sherman’s battery of Artillery gave them particular fits. We killed 62 of the Johnnies and got 30 of their cavalry horses.”

Condition is fine with aging at folds. A rare Chaplain’s letter.

#L658 - Price $650