I try to pray each night before I close my eyes to sleep for my pour self for all the poor soldiers and friends neer and dear to me away in a distant land, wrote Private William H. Tilden. Twenty-six-year-old Tilden enlisted in the army at Palmyra, NY on August 9, 1862. Eleven days later, he mustered into the 111th NY Inf. Co. A. In addition to his duties as a soldier, he served as both a commissary and a cook for his regiment. Failing health prompted him to report [himself] to the surgeon unfit for duty. He wrote to his brother, I shall try and preform my dutys as a cook and commissary for that will not expose me to the cold (Camp Near Centerville, January 20, 1863). Bullets, however, were more dangerous than the cold. While near Bull Run battlefield, he encountered so many human bones that they became a familiar sight rather than a ghastly one. Little did he know, in a few short months, he would fight in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and become one of many skeletons left behind. He died the morning of July 2, 1863 during one of the first few days of the awful engagement. Lincoln honored him and the fallen when he delivered his famous address on that same hallowed ground. He is still buried at Gettysburg.
Typical folds and toning of the paper, some pencil inscription from a previous owner on the reverse.
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