Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Reminiscences of the Civil War by William and Adelia Lyon.

Reminiscences of the Civil War by William and Adelia Lyon.

June 15, 2013

Reminiscences of the Civil War, William and Adelia Lyon

Colonel Lyons.

Fort Donelson, June 15, 1863.—I have been very busy all the morning getting off a fleet of boats up the river. Companies A and K go as guards. The Major (Bigney) started for Nashville for horse equipments for mounted infantry. Colonel McConnell’s expedition found nothing of the enemy.

I have taken an inventory of the women and children in camp, as you requested me to do. The 83d Illinois has 73, the 13th Wisconsin has 21, the 71st Ohio but one, the Batteries 15—total 110. Major Haines is paying the 13th today, and when the command is paid a large number of these women and children will leave.

I send you a letter that I secured from a prisoner here who supposes that he is under sentence of death. He is a soldier in Flood’s Battery and was tried by the last Court-Martial for murdering a negro and for forcing a safeguard. I thought it would interest you.

The letter is as follows:

In Prison, June 13, 1863.

Colonel Lyon.

Dear Sir: I understand that my sentence for the violation of the law is death. I am sorry that I ever acted in the manner that I did. I was drunk when I committed the horrible deed for which I am condemned to die, and I hope that you will intercede in my behalf—not for my sake alone, but for the sake of my wife and little child and my aged old mother, who taught me to lead a different life from this. I hope you will do something for me. You perhaps know my situation. I will do better in the future, lead a different life and try and live a better man. I will attend to all my duties punctually and faithfully.

I have already been in prison once five months and suffered severe punishment.

To appeal to our fellow man for aid is natural in times of need, it is inherent in us to do so—we do it for help—for aid and assistance. Colonel, I know that you are a man of good feeling—you must understand the nature of man. We are all frail beings—all liable at times more or less to err and be led astray. We can’t see danger and ruin until it is upon us— and for the sake of humanity do something for me before it is too late.

I hope all this will not be in vain, but that my life will be spared.

Colonel, when you read this, think of my poor, helpless wife and child that will be loft alone in the world with no one to look after them and provide for their wants. It is true that drunkenness is no excuse, but I would of (have) never committed the deed if I had been sober. I was not conscious of the deed when I committed it; if I had been I would not have done it. I know there is an eternity—a final reckoning for us all—and I hope I will be released this time—and will never be guilty again.

Your obdt. servt.,

James Little.

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