Last Words and Moments of Soldiers

Andy Cardinal

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Feb 27, 2017
Not exactly his last words, but I hope it fits the spirit of the thread--

Dear Parents, Brothers and Sisters: I am wounded, mortally I think. The fight rages around me. I have done my duty, this is my consolation. I hope to meet you all again. I left not the line until nearly all had fallen and the colors gone. I am getting weak, my arms are free, but my chest is all numb. The enemy trotting over me, the numbness up to my heart. Goodbye all. Your son, Allen.

Captain Allen Zacharias, 7th Michigan at Antietam. Zecharias was wounded in the West Woods and wrote this note as he lay on the field. A Maine soldier found Zacharias with the note, and sent the note home to Zacharias's family. In the end, Zacharias lived far longer than he or anyone else expected, not succumbing to his wound until December 31, 1862, at a hospital in Hagerstown.

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Tom Elmore

Sergeant Major
Member of the Year
Jan 16, 2015
Chaplain Flynn was asked the direction of the fighting by a dying lieutenant, who asked Flynn to turn him over so that he would face that way. He then calmly said, “I do not wish to die with my back towards the field of battle.” 1st Lieutenant Frederick Bliss, Company B, 8th Georgia; mortally wounded July 2, died July 4. [George Hillyer, Battle of Gettysburg, August 2, 1904]

Captain, if you will help me over the fence, I will try to go on.” Private John F Stephens, Company C, 9th Georgia; mortally wounded July 2. Captain Hillyer told him to remain where he was and have the litter corps carry him to the rear, but Stephens died in the meantime. [George Hillyer, Battle of Gettysburg, August 2, 1904]

You can do me no good; I am dying. Follow your piece!” Corporal Joseph T. Van Lantz, Taylor’s battery, Alexander’s battalion; killed July 2. Van Lantz was speaking to one of his comrades from the battery who came to his assistance. [Confederate Veteran, vol. 32 (1924), p. 59]

Oh, my poor wife and children.” Private Patrick McNeil, Parker’s battery, Alexander’s battalion; mortally wounded July 3. [Royall Figg, “Where Men Only Dare to Go!”]

Oh God, is it possible that I must die?” Colonel Joseph Wasden, 22nd Georgia; mortally wounded July 2. [Memoir of William B. Judkins, G/22 GA]

Now you may let go.” Levi Smith, Company A, 148th Pennsylvania; mortally wounded. A surgeon told him he would die soon after a comrade withdrew his hand that was compressing his wound, so Smith asked for paper and pen and wrote a letter to his mother. After finishing, he let himself fall back, hesitated a moment, then spoke his final words. [The Story of our Regiment, A History of the 148th Pennsylvania Vols., ed. by Adj. J. W. Muffly, Des Moines, IA: The Kenyon Printing and Mfg. Co., 1904]

George, keep up good courage.” Captain Henry V. Fuller, Company F, 64th New York; mortally wounded July 2. Private George W. Whipple had just helped drag Fuller to Rose Run when the Confederates came up and ordered Whipple to the rear. [Memories of George W. Whipple, Private, Company F, 64th N. Y. V., 1861-1865, 8th Georgia Infantry Webpage]

I would rather be killed than beaten today.” Corporal William W. Goodell, Company D, 14th Connecticut; killed July 3. [Souvenir of Excursion to Battlefields by the Society of the Fourteenth Connecticut Regiment, by Chaplain H. S. Stevens, Washington: Gibson Bros. Fronters and Bookbinders, 1893, p. 37]

Mother! Mother! Mother!” Colonel Harrison H. Jeffords, 4th Michigan; mortally wounded July 2. Recorded by his surgeon, who informed regimental quartermaster Lt. Robert H. Campbell. [War Reminiscences of Robert H. Campbell, Bentley Historical Library, Civil War collections online]

Oh, I am shot.” 2nd Lieutenant John J. McKeever, Company A, 29th Pennsylvania; mortally wounded July 3. [Captain William S. Stork, Personal Recollections of the Civil War, The Lutheran Observer, vol. 72, May 27, 1904]

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