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In Their Own Words

January 08, 1865

Soldier Who Lost Arm Wrote Governor

A Georgia soldier who had lost his left arm in the war, but could not get what was due him from the government, wrote to Georgia Governor Joseph E. Brown, asking for help.

“I embrace this opportunity of writing a few lines to you as I [explain the] misery in my present condition. On the 4th day of March 1862, you called on Georgia for volunteers to go to the field of battle, and, as I thought my services was needed in the field and every other man’s that was able to bear arms, I volunteered and soon was sent to Virginia. [I] went through all of the battles with the 45th Georgia without ever receiving a furlough until the 5th day of May, 1864. I was wounded in the left arm, caused me to lose the use of it entirely. On the 6th day of June, I received a furlough at the hospital in Richmond and came to Georgia. Being without family or parents, I was compelled to pay board. On the 1st of October I went back to Virginia. [I] had paid out all the money I had and left me $100 in debt to pay when I could. On the 2nd day of November, I was retired and made my way back to Georgia. “… Last week, the 1st of January, I went to Macon to draw my pay and some clothing but clothing was refuse[d] to let me have. They was due me for clothing last year $49. They refuse[d] to pay that and also my computations for rations. They paid me $36 wages and this I was compelled to pay out for a pair of shoes, for I was barefooted and clothes I am without and have not the means to buy with. When I cannot get the money that is due me from the government and if I had it all it would not buy clothing at the present prices. “I wish to ask you what is to become of such men as I that is disabled and cannot get what is due them from the government. I cannot work for a living with one hand. Times is so no one won’t hire a overseer. And I wish to know what I am to do, if I can look to Georgia for help or have I got to turn out in the world. These times are [hard], after fighting in this cruel war until I was ruined for life, when I had nothing in the world to fight for but myself, without parents or relation or property of any kind, though I considered it my duty to fight for the country, and I did so until I was disabled. Since that time it looks like the world has forsaken me and cares not for a man no longer than he is able for the battlefield… .I hope you will adopt some plan that I may draw [w]hat is due me or some plan that I may get some clothing without turning out in the world a beggar or being sent to the poor house. I will close, hoping that you will consider my condition and let me hear from you soon.”

Source: Mills Lane, Georgia: History written by Those who lived It (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1995), pp. 179-180.