Dr Charles Campbell Guard, Surgeon, 29th Illinois Regiment

John Hartwell

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#1
Charles Campbell Guard was born on August 5, 1824, in the town of Equality, Gallatin County, Illinois. The source of his medical education is unknown, but by 1848, he was a practicing physician in nearby Harrisburg.

By the time the war broke out, Dr. Guard had been twice widowed, and was living in Equality with his third wife, Nancy, and their infant son, Charles. (a 12 year-old daughter, Lucy, was living with relatives, 5 other children had died in infancy).

On August 14, 1861, Guard was commissioned First Lieutenant in Co. E of the 3rd Illinois Cavalry, and mustered at Camp Butler on the 21st of the same month. But barely a month later, on September 28, he was discharged from that regiment in order to accept a commission as regimental Surgeon of the 29th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

No sooner had Dr Guard joined his new regiment, than the 29th set out for Cairo, Ill., at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Attached to McClernand’s Brigade, under the overall command of Gen. U. S. Grant, they operated out of Cairo until February 1862. During that time the regiment participated in a number of minor expeditions, but saw no action. They took part in the operations against Ft. Henry, but only saw their baptism, of fire at the siege and capture of Fort Donelson (Feb. 12-16), in which engagement the 29th suffered some 100 casualties.

At first caring for the regiment’s sick and wounded in the field hospital, Dr Guard was soon transferred to the newly-acquired “Hospital Ship” City of Memphis. Leased and outfitted by the United States Sanitary Commission, the river boat had been turned over to the Army earlier that month. But, at this point in the war, the “Hospital Ship” idea was in its infancy, and vessels like the City of Memphis and the Fanny Bullitt, put in service at the same time, were used not as floating hospitals, but simply as “medical transport” -- little more than empty vessels in which vast numbers of wounded were transported downriver to onshore hospitals. So, Dr. Guard cared for some 450 sick and wounded during the trip to the hospitals in Paducah, Ky., while his regiment moved South towards Savannah, Tenn. The City of Memphis made more such trips during the next several weeks, before heading up the Tennessee River following the army.
It was not until mid March that The City of Memphis anchored off Pittsburgh Landing. The 29th was encamped there until the 25th. But, all was not well with Dr Guard. Some one of the hundreds of sick and wounded soldiers he had been caring for while being transported to safety, had been infected by the hepatitis virus. And, the surgeon had himself become infected. The virus attacked his liver, as hepatitis does, and he was soon bedridden.

Early in April, shortly before he led his command onto the fateful battlefield of Shiloh, Col. James S. Rearden, commanding officer of the 29th Illinois Regiment, wrote the following letter:

Head Quarters 29th Regt Ill Vol
Camp near Pittsburgh Tenn April 5th 1862
Mrs Charles C. Guard​
Equality Ills,​
My Dear Madam​
It becomes my sad and painful duty to communicate to you the sorrowful intelligence of the death of your late Husband Dr Charles C. Guard, -- late Surgeon of this Regiment.​
He died at two o’clock in the P.M. on Yesterday the 4th Instant after a protracted illness. The last few days of which were painful in the extreme.​
In conveying to you this message, so full of sorrow and grief, I take the liberty of adding, that in all the relations of life, both as soldier and citizen, he won the name of Scholar, Soldier, Gentleman, and friend, the highest attributes of man. In all the duties incumbent upon him in treating the diseases of which our Soldiery are afflicted, he proved himself Master of his profession, as well as a kind and sympathising friend to the afflicted. He was truly a Christian, as his virtues and exemplary conduct in the field or in the camp well attested. His devotion to you and to his children were every day apparent, from the affectionate manner in which he so often alluded to you.​
His intelligence and Professional Ability were well attested by his numerous associates in the practice, of whom he numbered the old and the young, beloved by all who knew him, he lived respected and died regretted.​
In conclusion Madam allow me to add the deep Sympathy and heartfelt Condolences which I feel in your untimely and distressing bereavement. And to commend you and your bereaved Children, to “him who doeth all things well” for Consolation and Strength to bear this sad dispensation of divine power.​
Our Good Chaplain Rev Mr Clifford will bear to you the remains of Dr. Guard, and with him the Sympathy and Condolence of the whole Regiment, who respected and loved him alike.​

I have the honor to be Madam
Very Respectfully and
Truly your Friend
Jas S. Rearden
Col Comdg​


Dr. Charles Campbell Guard, died on the hospital boat City of Memphis, at anchor off Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee. Cause of death was given as hepatitis and “ulceration of the liver”

His widow, Nancy Baker Guard, applied for and received a pension (WC28043), until she remarried in 1864 (she applied again, many years later when widowed, and it was renewed).

Other sources:
http://kithandkinchronicles.blogspot.com/2015/04/military-monday-dr-charles-campbell.html
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99965994/charles-campbell-guard
https://www.fold3.com/image/249/264291719 (113 pages, 1 document attached below)
and online histories of the 29th Illinois Regiment
 

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lelliott19

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Such a sad fate for a man who helped so many. I did however enjoy very much reading the letter written by Col Rearden. Those letters must have been very hard to write and he did it very well. Ive seen this sentence written before in such letters and have always thought it did a nice job of summing up a life well lived: .....beloved by all who knew him, he lived respected and died regretted. It seems a shame that people don't write like that any more. Thanks for sharing Dr. Guard's story John.
 

JPK Huson 1863

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Yes, thank you. I'm swiping part of that letter for an attempt at a thread docs lost in the war. There doesn't seem a comprehensive list or accounting except the Massachusetts you found. May be missing something somewhere? Of course I was convinced there was one keeping track of nurses lost, too- and doesn't seem to be.
 

byron ed

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"...The last few days of which were painful in the extreme."

That's a clear indication of the way Victorians were so honest in dealing with death -- you'd think the Colonel maybe didn't need to offer that kind of detail, seeing as it would only add to the widow's agony. But that's today's ethic. That generation would feel it a kindness that nothing was spared in the telling, only to come out later. Yes?
 
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lelliott19

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That generation would feel it a kindness that nothing was spared in the telling, only to come out later. Yes?
I think you're absolutely right BE. It may seem callous to us today to see this kind of information included in a letter informing a widow of her husband's death. But back then, they really wanted to know all the details. Seems there was a special interest in knowing the "Last Words" spoken by someone right before they died.

I'll point out that in his photo he's holding an outstanding example of the somewhat rare and certainly unique Sword for Officers of the Medical Staff.
The OP image of the sword is small, and not very clear. Any chance you could post a larger image of a similar sword? I'd like to see what it looks like. Thanks.
 

James N.

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… The OP image of the sword is small, and not very clear. Any chance you could post a larger image of a similar sword? I'd like to see what it looks like. Thanks.
I used to own an example of this sword but unfortunately traded it many years ago to a dentist friend who was a medical reenactor, for a Japanese reproduction of a French M.1763 Charleville musket. However, a quick search has found an example with lots of good photos on the Horse Soldier of Gettysburg's site: http://www.horsesoldier.com/products/edged-weapons/swords/6818

This unwieldy sidearm has been called one of the only two original designs for U.S. swords, along with the Full-Dress Sword for Officers of the Engineer Corps, since all the others with which we're familiar are actually copies of French or British arms. This style was also used by officers of the Paymaster Department and they are even rarer; the only difference is the substitution of the small silver Old English letters M S (for Medical Staff) in the shield on the hilt's crossguard for P D (Pay Department). These were never intended for use as weapons but mere badges of authority worn only in Full Dress occasions. Most if not all pre-war examples were products of the Ames Mfg. Co., makers of most regulation swords and sabers in the 1840's and 1850's.
 



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