- Jul 23, 2017
- Southwest Missouri
Captain Henry Martin Kellogg
33rd Illinois Infantry
Wednesday morn, May 6th, 1863
My dear Wife & boy,
At length the prohibition of letter writing has been removed by General Grant & mail is to go out 8 o'clock this morning. I hasten to improve the first opportunity I have had for more than two weeks in talking with my wife & boy. I last wrote your Apr 25th from Perkin's Plantation, La., though I doubt whether you received the letters, I am informed that our letters have been stopped at Memphis fore some time past. I wrote you again the 26th but finding no letters were allowed to go north, I put his letter in my trunk. Since that time we have witnessed & participated in stirring scenes. The battle of "Magnolia Hills" has been fought & a glorious victory won. Hundreds have fallen on my every side but I am still spared unharmed to my wife & boy. I have not sufficient paper to enable me to give a detailed account of the fight, but I will hereafter. We were in the fight from early in the morning till dark.
The enemy's first shot was fired at Co. C. (we with three other companies were skirmishing in front of our left) the shell struck the ground & burst at the very feet of several men in my second platoon. The second shell I saw was aimed higher. I instantly ordered the boys to lie down & did so myself, but not a moment too soon, for the shell passed directly over me so near as to force my cap upon the back of my head, this to when it was strapped tightly under my chin. The shock made my head fairly numb for an instant…..
That we were pretty well tired out when night came you can well imagine. I think I never knew hunger, thirst & fatigue before--but I lay down that night under one of our faithful guns & blessed God that He had given success to our arms & spared your husband & father to his darling wife & boy. He has been very good to us--let us love & praise him more than ever before…..
We are now slowly & surely closing up behind the doomed city & in a few days it will be ours. Then the Mississippi will be opened to the
commerce of the north & a bright day will dawn upon our afflicted country.
Do not be too anxious about me. Trust in God he is good & will do right. Harry, Papa often thinks of his little boy & would love to be with
him & Mama & walk out with him this pleasant morning. But Papa must stay & help "shoot the rebels" a little longer. Someday Papa hopes he
can come home & stay with Harry & Mama. Harry will be a good boy & love & take care of Mama won't he?....
God bless you in all things my darling wife & boy.
Two weeks later, 'The Kellogg's In The Old World and The New' Vol II 1903 records the following incident of May 20, 1863
Said the Lieut.-Col. of his regiment: "I saw him as he marched to his death with a clear presentiment of his fate, calm and resolute. When upon the ground he pointed to a little eminence in front saying, 'I shall fall near that spot.' Then, as they went forward to the attack, he, being in advance of his company, waved his sword above his head, calling out to his men, 'Follow me to victory or death.' He fell within ten feet of the spot he had pointed out, and, when removed a few moments after, his sword was held so firmly that it required some force in unclasping his hand from the hilt."
Regt. at Vicksburg, May 26th/63
Sarah and Harry (born 1861)
Sarah and Harry (born 1861)
I would fain hope that I am not the first bearer of the tidings which it is my painful duty to communicate. If unhappily I be so, I can only bid you summon all your fortitude to read the next words I shall write, and may God soften the terrible blow; your noble husband is no more, he died the death of a brave man on the 20th while leading his company, sword in hand, in an important advance to a close position under the fire of the enemy’s works. The fatal blow from a piece of shell in the head was at least merciful, in so far as that he died quietly and without suffering. His comrades were especially around him, but he never spoke after the shot. We have made every effort, by his special request before his fall, to send his body to you; but as no boats are allowed to assault the river at present, we have been compelled to postpone this purpose for the present. We design to fulfill it at the earliest providable time.
I enclose you his ring bearing your name and return your letter which has just been received. I will advise with you in regards to his effects left here, which are at present in the stores of our position. I will not intrude upon your emotions with heavy words of condolence but only ask that you accept assurances of sympathy from one whose long and close' intimacy with the deceased made me somewhat acquainted with his many endearing qualities and led me to feel towards him rather as a brother than as a comrade and subordinate officer. You will not sorrow alone over his early grave. Not only in his own Company but throughout the Regiment there is deep and earnest sorrow for his loss, and heartfelt sympathy with those who were nearest and dearest to him, in this unspeakable bereavement.
His name will be treasured among America's Patriotic dead and his orphan Boy will be proud to hear the name of a father who died bravely for his Country. For him and yourself accept once more the assurance of earnest sympathy.
Yours most sincerely,
Edward J. Lewis
1st Lt. Co. C
33rd Ill. Regt.
Henry was buried on the battlefield, with a memorial stone in his home state of Massachusetts. His wife would take 3 year old Harry and return to her childhood home, also in Massachusetts. In 1874, she would remarry.
Harry Whiting Kellogg would spend the rest of his life in Massachusetts, marry and have three children of his own, and enter his final rest in 1952, at the age of 91.