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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Windows to the Soul



Historians now estimate the war’s death toll at about 750,000, which includes men who died from war related wounds or illnesses after leaving the service. Many carried invisible scars, which plagued them for the rest of their lives. The stresses of campaigning and combat drained aged then and emotionally drained them. While by no means a mental health professional, I have observed the effects of post traumatic stress disorder upon civilians and veterans. I know the “Thousand Yard Stare” when I see it. Their eyes reflected their sorrow. The following images are of members of the 49th New York, which I have been researching for about 30 years.

Rudolph Muller, age 38, enlisted September 12, 1861, Buffalo, New York for 3 years. Mustered in, private, Company D, September 14, 1861. November 3, 1863, reported to hospital sick. Reported with a cold from October 23 – December 5, 1863. Reenlisted as a veteran, December 25, 1863. Wounded in ankle, May 5, 1864, Wilderness. Hospitalized, 7th Ward, Buffalo, New York. Transferred to Company B (probably absent in hospital), September 17, 1864. Absent, wounded at muster out, June 27, 1865. 


                                                 (Phil Palen Collection, USAHEC)
While listed as a private, his trousers have a non-commissioned officer’s stripe on them.  The badge on his lapel is probably a corps badge. He appears to have a veteran’s stripe on each sleeve.


Elijah H. Shippee, age 25.  Enlisted August 5, 1861 at Clymer, New York for three years.  Mustered in as private, Company G, August 30, 1861. Promoted to corporal before March 1, 1863.  Promoted to sergeant March 1, 1863. Known for being the best quoits player in the regiment. September 1 -2, 1863, kept in the hospital with diarrhea. Reenlisted as a veteran on December 16, 1863. Pioneer with the regiment.  Slightly wounded on May 5, 1864 at the Wilderness. Participated in the charge against the Bloody Angle on May 12, 1864 with one arm in a sling and an axe in the other.  After the battle, the men found his corpse hanging over the Confederate works, having been bayoneted six times.



(NYSAG, USAHEC)


Freeman Miller, age 18.  (He lied about his age.  He was 16.) Enlisted on August 21, 1861 in Buffalo for 3 years. Mustered in as a private, Company G on August 30, 1861. Promoted to corporal on May 4, 1863.  Re-enlisted as a veteran on December 16, 1863. Wounded in the head on May 6, 1864 at the Wilderness. Transferred to Company A on September 17, 1864. Wounded in the upper right arm on October 19, 1864 at Cedar Creek, Virginia. The surgeons recorded his age as 19. Surgeon George T. Stevens (77th New York) amputated his right arm below the shoulder on October 19, 1864. He received a medical discharge on March 16, 1865, though the roster reported the date as March 25. He appears to have been the youngest man in the regiment.


(NYSAG, USAHEC)

Born on July 17, 1842, in Brantford, Canada West, William Ellis enlisted in the “Prince of Wales,” 100th Regiment in Toronto in 1857 at the age of 15. He soon transferred to the Royal 22nd Regiment. He was promoted from private to regimental Color Sergeant. When the War started, he bought his discharge and went home briefly visit with his mother and sisters. From there, he went to Buffalo and after taking a preliminary oath to become a U.S. citizen, he enrolled in Buffalo on July 30, 1861 to serve 3 years. He lied about his age, stating that he was 21. He mustered in as 2nd lieutenant, Company E on August 28, 1861. He was promoted to captain, Company C on January 25, 1862. He mustered in as the major of the 49th on December 11, 1862.  On May 12, 1864, while leading a charge onto the works at the Bloody Angle, Spotsylvania, Court House, Virginia, a Confederate shot him point blank with a ramrod  It penetrated his left arm, missing the bone, struck him in the side and fractured a rib. Listed as non-fatal, he quickly returned to duty and a promotion as Assistant Inspector General, First Division, VI Corps.  On the morning of August 4, 1864, while rising from his bed, a bone chip from his rib passed through his heart, killing him. He was 22 years old.


                                                                                                                      

(NYSAG, USAHEC)


He is wearing his VI Corps badge and his major’s insignia.

Their eyes reflect a line from Sigfried Sassoon’s, Suicide in the Trenches “Pray that you may never know the Hell where youth and laughter go.”


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