Merrill F. Samson to A. Hayward

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Mrs. A. Hayward
MiddleburyAddison CoVermont.


Camp on the James RiverJuly 18 /62Mrs Hayward
Dear Madam,

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I received your kind letter of the 13th this morning, I was glad to hear from you yet it made me feel quite sad indeed to think that a letter from you was directed to me instead of your dear Son Harrison, I red a letter from Mother at the same time that I red yours, I opened yours first, but I had not read but a few words before I layed the letter down & gave away to my feelings for I could not help between, the feeling manifested in your

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letter & the sadness in your heart occasioned by Harrisons death was too much for me, Harrison had been engaged but a few moments, had fired about 5. or 6. times at the enemy when a grape shot from a Cannon that was immediately in the road in front of us struck him in the breast about 4 inches below the throat or top of the breast bone, passing through his crass belt that passes over the left shoulder & across the breast under the right arm. Harrison fell to the ground with the words, oh dear, as soon as he fell he spoke to John McCormic (a fellow from Bridport that stood by his side) & asked him for a drink of water, he gave it to him & after Harrison had drinked he then said oh tell Merrill to come here I want to see him once more, & they called to me but on account of the great confusion & noise of musketry I

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did not hear him call in a short time he asked for water again they gave it him as many times as he asked for it he seemed to be in considerable pair yet took or rather bore his fate like a true & noble Soldier, which lying or the ground he turned over 2, or 3, times & then died seemingly very easy. He was not heard to say any thing but to ask for water & exclaim, oh dear, as he fill, & desired me to come to him as he wanted to see me once more, & the last words he uttered were, give it to them boys. After he was shot he livedd about 15 minutes was in his right mind all of the time but was not heard to say any thing about home, but I doubt not that he thought of home & his dear Mother & Sister, yet have no proof of it from his our lips,

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At the time that I wrote my 1st letter home mentioning Harrisons death there was a report that our dead & wounded were taken care of that right by our men. The wounded were taken from the field & carried to a building which was to be the Hospital for them & Mr Russell stayed with them to take care of them, but those that were killed were left on the field, our men being or the retreat & we being clear in the rear that we were allowed no time to bury them, but there is not a doubt but that they were all buried for I am sure that Mr Russell would see that they were, & the Enemy would not neglect any such thing, that would be contrary to the law of rations

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it now which is the only thing that is left of any of this things, he had his knapsack or whar he fell & as I could not see him I did not get a thing, his Testament was in his coat pocket. Harrison was loved by evry one in our co & is missed by evry one we all mourn his loss a great deal. I feel as though I were left here in a strange land all alone but wher I think of his dear Mother & Sister I feel that my sorrow & grief is nothing compared to theirs, yet I do believe I could not have felt much more had it been my own brother, but Mrs Hayward I feel that it was Joel's will & we should not murmor, but rather explain, the LordGod gvae & the LordGod has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord, I do not know but I have written all that I car in regard to Harrison. I do not know as you can read what I have written, my pen is poor, you will notice that as I look turned my sheet I commenced again or the very page therefore I have numbered there. If there is any thing that you would like to know that I have not written will inform you in anything you may ask. I will close for this time I should be glad to have you ask me & if in my home

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You ask what evidance I have that Harrison did a Christian Harrison was very much attached to his bible, read it a great deal, he & I used to talk a great deal together upper the subject of rely in he every night offered a prayer to God Sumingly in great faith & earned stress, & furthermore his daily [      ] salior plainly showed that he he intertained a hope, at least it showed planily to me that he did cherist a hope having a knowledge as I did througt conversations with him of his feelings upper the subject of Religion, This is the proof that I have & I am convinced that he had a hope & that his Soul is now enjoying the blessedness of Heaven, Every thing that Harrison had was in his pockets & knapsack excepting his rubber blanket, he had my blanket & I had his, & have

This from your honorable servantMerrill F. Samson