In Their Own Words
June 12, 1864
Soldier Informed Sister of Brother’s Death
From Virginia, James Gray had the sad duty to write his sister in Georgia about the death of their brother from wounds sustained in battle:
“Poor Brother Augustus is dead… . He was wounded in the left side with a minie ball. The ball went through and lodged just under the skin on the right side. The doctor said that the spinal mar[row] of his back was broke. he could not move his feet nor legs after he was wounded. Gus was in his right mind after he was wounded as long as he could speak. He got wounded late in the evening. I helped tote him off of the battlefield, and I stayed with him ‘till 12 o’clock that night. He told me that he was obliged to die… . He said to me, ‘Jim, I cannot be with you long. I know I must die. I want you to write to Mary and tell her not to grieve after me. Tell her to raise the children the best she can. Instruct them and raise them so that they would know good from evil.’ … He said he did not fear death. He said all he dreaded was the pain of death… . Sis, I cannot tell you how bad it hurts me to part with him. I hated to give him up. the night I told him good-by I felt like I never would see him any more on earth. His hands was cold, and, when I gold him good-by, he squeezed my hand and told me to do what he had told me… .”
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), “Dear Mother: Don’t grieve about me. If I get killed, I’ll only be dead.”: Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 301-02.