“I wanted to…try my luck in an engagement.”

Oliver’s letter of February 19, 1862 is one of the most lengthy in the collection and will take several posts to dissect. The illness known as Ague that Oliver has struggled with since December of the previous year returns and causes him to miss the first combat action of the 8th CVI. Oliver is confined to the Chasseur and misses the Battle of Roanoke Island on the 7th and 8th of February 1862. By February 14th, Oliver’s condition has improved to the point that he is allowed to come ashore:

I did not leave the old Chasseur until last Friday for the reason that I was indisposed, and the regiment had not pitched their tents and it was rather damp lying in the open air, especially for one who was not well. It was with feelings of delight that I again set my feet upon “terra firma” after having been upon the briny deep for over six weeks.  

Although Case professes to be much healthier since coming onto the island, his leaders still have concerns about his physical condition to the point that his commander doesn’t allow Oliver to accompany the regiment on a march just three days later.

The Lieut. And Capt. both sent for me unbeknown to each other and told me that as I had been sick so recently I should not be able to go and wanted me to stay in their tents and in case the regiment should not come back to see about packing up their things. It was all very well for them but I wanted to go with the regiment and try my luck in an engagement. Each of them told me as it was such very wet weather and we should have to lie outdoors in the water it would surely bring on the Fever and Ague.

I find the depth of concern on the part of Oliver’s leaders to be noteworthy. Not that commanders in Union regiments didn’t care for their troops, but in Oliver’s case, it seems that they are going to great lengths to ensure they don’t lose him. This may very well be the result of the deaths of Henry Sexton and Duane Brown from illness.

Private Case will have to wait for another day to experience his first taste of combat.

 

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