Title: This from George
Copyright 2001 by Eileen M. Patch
About the Book:
With 59 letters as a core, annotations flesh out his life and relate it to family, friends, neighborhood, and war campaigns. His was such a small part of the Union's ultimate success that it didn't matter to the war's outcome. Or did it? The collective presence of thousands similar to him worked the war machinery.
The Foreword places the letter-writer in time and location. George's letters are in chronological order and grouped by campaigns. An Interim Word describes a parade welcoming the veteran volunteers, who reenlisted, home on furlough, and stands between the letters from George's two terms of enlistment. The Afterword tells about life after the war.
The letters extend through most of the war period. The first one was written in October of 1861 at camp of instruction in Elmira, NY; the last in June of 1865 from the U.S. General Hospital at Hampton, VA in which he requests that he go "home once more." He was wounded on April 2nd, one week before the surrender at Appomattox.
The variety of places this farm boy saw is remarkable. He traveled the east coast by transport ship from Boston, MA to Charleston, SC. He toured the Chesapeake Bay, the Dismal Swamp Canal and the York, Pamunkey, Potomac and James Rivers. On foot and by train he noted history in cities, villages and country. After a 150-mile march he wrote that he stood the march "first rate" but hoped he'd never have to make another march.
The letters reflect George's growth. Twenty years old when he enlisted and 24 when he went home, he matured ahead of his years. His later letters included his post-war plans: to go west, engage in a meat-processing business, send his sister to school. He was generous with his war pay and bounty; his parents bought farmland with some of it.
At the Battle of Fredericksburg, George's company crossed the river in pontoon boats to remove Confederate snipers interfering with the Union's pontoon bridge laying. He wrote, "Not a man that got into the boats expected to land alive. But they did and no one was hurt." Although George came through many battles unscathed, ultimately his luck ran out.
George wrote from the hospital, "I have one great consolation...the war is ended & the Rebellion crushed, &...soon peace will again smil [sic] on our land." Many years later his brother wrote that George was "well content to be numbered among those who had fought the good fight "
About the Author:
Patch inherited the 57 letters the family saved from those George wrote home during the Civil War. This inheritance and her long-time interest in family history led to an intense study of her great uncle's war experience, including trips to battlefield sites and research at military archives. The study led to this book.
The letters, many signed "This from George," are a brief history of service in the 89th New York Regiment from 1861 until 1865 as seen through the eyes of a Corbettsville farm boy. They gradually reveal the personality and values of Sergeant George Magusta Englis; each letter puts the reader closer to the soldier's soul.
Patch has a BS in elementary education from SUNY Potsdam and raised three children with her husband, F. David Patch. She founded a private preschool and has worked as an organist and choir director. She has edited club newsletters and written magazine articles. This is her first book.
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