The Families of Adam Keith
In the Civil War
A journalistís account
Individual Report for Allen Moses Blanchard
Anc: Adam Keith1>Balthasar Keith2>Peter Keith3>Peter Keith 4>Benjamin James Keith5>Mary E. [Keith] [m. Allen Moses] Blanchard6
Birth Date: 18 Apr 1835 Place: Perry Co. IN
Death Date: 10 Nov 1916 Place: Dayton, Montgomery Co. OH
Burial Place: Dayton National Cemetery, Dayton, Montgomery Co. OH plot M218
Spouse: *Mary E. Keith (Cir 1837 - 17 Nov 1905)
Marr. Date: 5 Jul 1856 Place: Delaware Co. IA
Enlisted as a Private on 20 September 1861 at the age of 26. Enlisted in Company D, 12th Infantry Regiment Iowa on 26 October 1861. Wounded on 04 October 1862 at Corinth, MS. POW, captured at Jackson MS, July 11, 1863. see Allen M. Blanchard, Company D Reminiscences of the Capture and Detention of Allen M. Blanchard, as a Prisoner of War, captured at Jackson [MS], July 11, 1863
The following letter was written prior to Allen Blanchardís capture and confinement in Andersonville prison.
The Cedar Valley Times, Cedar Rapids, Linn Co. IA, 2/6/1862
4th Street Hospital, St. Louis,
January 24, 1862.
ďDear Times:--I have been remiss in writing lately, but I have been sick. On January 12th, our brigade was ordered to place itself in readiness to march at a moment's warning, with a strong probability of leaving St. Louis on the 15th. On the same day our old muskets were exchanged for new rifles called "Enfield guns;" they are perfect beauties, blue steel barrel, with a perfect finish on all the other parts. Maximum range, 900 yards, with moveable sights. On the 13th, such soldiers as were unable to leave were conveyed to hospitals, and among the rest your humble correspondent. Owing to adverse circumstances, the troops which expected to leave, yet remain. Capt. [John H.] Stibbs calls in frequently to see us, and we are always glad to see him; he brings our letters. It is a sad task to communicate such news to our friends as will cause them grief; but we must remember that it is the lot of all men to die, sooner or later, whether in the army or at home. ...
Blanchard provides a list of the 12th IA dead and sick in St. Louis area hospitals.
These poor fellows could not survive the ordeal of acclimation; the raw chilling winds, the abominable omnipresent mud, shoe-top deep everywhere, the stifling, infernal odor of the half-sulphur, half-slate Missouri coal, and the pukeish river water, proved too much for the noble freeman who were habituated to the use of the pure dry air, and clear, cold, sparkling water of the Hawkeye State. All honor to those who brave this, and more, for the defence of the homes they love, and the starry flag. Some of the boys were, perhaps, not prudent enough; and at times, it was impossible to give the proper care and attention necessary to preserve health.
Our physicians have been severely censured; perhaps too much so, for we must remember that they, as well as the men, were not yet acclimated. When the peculiar state of the weather set in, which was dangerously productive of pneumonia, I don't believe that anybody in our regiment knew a deadly pall hung over us, M. D.'s not excepted. They appeared to regard our distressing and almost universal cough as no more than what we term a "bad cold" in Iowa, while in reality, it was the unmistakable premonition of what has proved an almost unmanageable malady, even in the care of resident physicians.
We coughed so in the barracks, that it was impossible to go to sleep before 12 or 1 o'clock. And at this time even our physicians were at variance with each other; they prescribed fruitlessly, and differently, and each slyly ridiculed the diagnosis of the other. About the only remedial agent used was a crude, nauseating expectorant; and it was one man's constant daily duty, to patrol the Regiment, and to ply, unsparingly, his mixture of Lobelia Inflata, and Ipecacuanha, which, while it sickened, failed to cure. The soldiers dreaded the sight of him. I shall never forget an incident which took place one evening at this time. I was in our Captain's office, writing. The preceding night had been almost universally sleepless from the incessant coughing. It was about ten o'clock, and I was so busily engaged that I had not thought about the coughing of the men. Suddenly an officer who was present asked Capt. Stibbs, "Do you notice how still the men are to-night?" Sure enough, a death-like stillness prevailed. Not the first soldier coughing! It astonished all present. "How do you account for that?" said the Captain. "A change in doctors and in medicine. Dr. A. prescribed yesterday, and Dr. B. to-day." I remember that the men coughed dreadfully all last night, and to-night they are perfectly still. Do you know what Dr. B. has given them?" "Yes; he gave them blue mass." This was the solution of the strange problem. Hydrargyrum, that monarch among medicines, in his delicate garb of conserve of roses, was silently but powerfully engaged in driving back from the citadel of vitality, the arch miasmatic fiend. The conscienceless angel of Death delights to frequent the sleeping soldier's bed, and as I have lain there sick and sleepless, I could almost fancy that I could see him walking from couch to couch amid the squalor, gloating over the victims. I spoke in my last of the measles, a disease of itself not formidable; but here, where a predisposition to pneumonia exists, the lungs are left by the measles in so sensitive and irritable a condition, that there is a great liability to inflammation.
But I am becoming tedious to myself, if not to you; for I am still quite feeble. I have a constant catarrhal discharge from my left ear, accompanied by slight pneumoniac symptoms; but am gradually becoming convalescent. Capt. Stibbs called in day before yesterday, yesterday and to-day; he is very considerate, and visits us oftener than any other Captain in the 12th Iowa. ...
There is one thing more I wish to mention before closing, and I would be very glad if the Iowa newspapers would all copy this part of my article:
Many parents and friends of soldiers in camp at St. Louis, may not know how to provide for the transmission of the bodies of those who die here, to Iowa or any other Western State. When any soldier dies here, he is put in a coffin and buried. His name and place of burial is registered, so that no mistake of persons can occur. The corpse maintains a state of good preservation for the space of two months after interment, if the common wooden coffin is used; but indefinitely longer if a metalic coffin is used. The metalic coffin is quite expensive; but when a friend or parent wishes to have a corpse returned, it is best to get them. The metalic coffin never can decay; and moreover, it is airtight, so that decay of the body is most materially retarded. Over the face is screwed a brass or silver plate, to protect the glass plate through which the face of the corpse is distinctly visible, when the outer plate is removed. The corpse is disinterred, carefully laid out, and placed in the metalic coffin, which is then sealed perfectly air-tight, and taken to the express office where directed. The charge for all this, including price of coffin, is $50. The express charges will be about sixteen dollars for conveyance. One other method is employed, viz: enclosing the body, (still in the wooden coffin,) packed in a box of charcoal. This is much cheaper, costing but fifteen dollars; but the motion of the cars is apt to sift charcoal into the coffin, and discolor the face of the corpse. Persons interested will address "John A. Persons, 113 Chestnut Street, St. Louis, Mo.," enclosing the money and giving plain directions. Bodies for Cedar Rapids and vicinity should go by American Express.
I remain yours truly.
A. M. B. [Allen Moses Blanchard]