A Father’s Devotion to His Son

On April 17, 1862, Oliver Case composed a letter to his younger sister back in Connecticut to inform her of some less than flattering rumors that may have begun to circulate back home. From his camp on Bogue Island in North Carolina, Private Case expressed his concern that one of his fellow soldiers was sending news back to Connecticut that Case “will probably never be able to see Connecticut again” due to his recent battle with illness. Oliver wanted Abbie to know that P.A. Matson was not a creditable source of information and had not proven himself a soldier during the recent battle at Newbern. Oliver explained that sickness was common place among the soldiers:

I do not think that there is one in the company but what has had sick spells caused by exposure. I may not live to get home, but I think I stand as good a chance as anyone in the company, P.A. Matson to the contrary notwithstanding.

It seems that Matson may have attempted to distract from his behavior while under fire by spreading rumors about Oliver’s condition. Oliver told Abbie that in the heat of battle, he found no “dread of death that one naturally expects.” But as the 8th Connecticut came under fire from the Confederate soldiers defending Newbern, there was one soldier in the ranks who suffered a much different reaction than Oliver.

P.A. Matson was in the file ahead of me and I could not help laughing to see him skulk and dodge, trying to fall out. When he was hit he fell upon the ground saying, “Oh God, I’m killed. Orderly, be I killed?” I never was more pleased at any thing in my life. That shot was worth a great deal to him for it was nothing but a scratch at most.

While Matson would soon run from the camp of the 8th Connecticut never to be seen again, Case would stay and fight more battles. It seems that P.A. Matson’s words about Oliver never seeing Connecticut again would come to pass in five months from the date of the letter to Abbie. However, Oliver Case would “die like a man” with his face to the enemy during the Union’s final push toward Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. His brothers, both soldiers in the 16th Connecticut, would bury him on the John Otto farm two days later.

Oliver’s sacrifice would not be forgotten. His father, Job Case, was determine that his son would see Connecticut again and rest among his kin in Simsbury. In December of 1862, Job Case made his way to Sharpsburg and likely enlisted locals to help him disinter Oliver’s body and prepare it for shipment to Connecticut. Although I’ve been unable to locate any historical record of Oliver’s funeral, it’s highly likely a funeral did occur as his father’s final expression of devotion to his son.

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