On board Schooner “Recruit”
Annapolis Harbor Jan. 7th, 1862
I now take the last opportunity of addressing you for some time as we shall leave between this and morning for “Dixie.” Since I last wrote you I have seen the most sorrowful time that I ever witnessed. Henry D. Sexton died this noon of jaundice. He came on board the boat the same time I did and bunked under me until day before yesterday. When he came aboard he looked much as I have seen Alonzo. Duane Brown died and was buried yesterday. This is the last chance.
Too late. I may have another chance. Sexton was a little worse Sunday, but not so bad, that he was around. He said that if he were at home he should be sitting in the rocking chair writing but as there was no place to sit down he kept his bunk. I prevailed upon the Dr. to have his bunk changed to a more comfortable one Sunday night and Monday morning I talked with him. I thought that his mind wandered a little. I left him about two. In the morning he was not conscious and repaired nearly all day in the stupid state. About three he had a spasm and rushed out of his bunk. I had no control of him as he could handle me like a child.
It was very difficult to get anyone to take hold of him as they seemed to be afraid of him. It took five of us to hold him and keep him from tearing his face with his hands. He would bite at us and froth to the mouth, making a horrid noise all of the time. I stayed over him twenty four hours in succession before his death. I never saw anything so horrible in my life and if it had not been for the sailors I do not know what I should have done. He never has had any care upon the boat from the Dr.
He used to come around in the morning and ask him how he did – tell him to cover up and keep warm – perhaps give him a pill. He had only his own blanket and lay down upon the lower deck where it was very cold, damp, and close and where it was an impossibility to keep warm. I used to give him my blanket when I was on guard and when he could not get warm got into the berth with him. I tried all I could to have the Dr. convey him to the hospital Sunday when I began to see that he was getting worse. He also begged him to be carried there and he finally promised that he might go the next day, but the next day was too late. With even ordinary care he might have got well in a short time. Do not mention this to anyone whatever. I never felt so bad in my life as when I saw that here was no hopes of his recovery. It seemed as though I had lost the only friend I had with me. But thanks be to God what is our loss is his gain. He was prepared for the final change. Only the day before he was taken unconscious he remarked that there was only one thing that supported him during his illness at the hospital, and now when he got low-spirited, “The religion of Jesus Christ was his sustainer.”
Duane went to the hospital Sunday with the measles and the Typhus Fever set it, and carried him off. He had the best of care at the hospital, as good or better than he could have had at home. Everyone that has been there speaks of the excellent care, accommodations, food etc. that they get there.
I have been upon guard since I came upon the schooner and when I am off I go around and get water, cover up, and wait upon the sick in various ways. This is not my duty as a soldier – but it is my duty as a man. The Dr. often comes to me when he wants someone to carry medicine to any man when the ward masters are busy. The consequence of this is that I fare very well as far as food is concerned for if I get two rations it is all right. We have good team which is a great treat.
I got another man to write to Sexton’s wife for I could not do it at the time. I telegraphed this morning. Lieut. Chase said a man in the 23rd Mass. had the top of his head blown off Monday.
We put all of Henry’s things in a box and sent by express. They would not let me help pay the expenses because they said that I had done my part by being with him all the time. I have received no letter from you since the one dated the 22nd of Dec. and only one from anyone in that time.
We start tomorrow. Sexton died easy but unconscious.
Send postage stamps as soon as you find where I am. I have sent to the P.O. but cannot get any there.