Mr. Charles H. Gilley hailed from Paulding, GA. There he lived with his wife Sarah and three daughters, Mary, Martha, and Melinda, who was barely a year old. He was just 26 years old when he enlisted as a private in the Confederate Army.
This story begins in Georgia May 10, 1862, the balmy Spring day he enlisted in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. His enlistment drew him in to Company K, (Bartow County) as part of the 60th Georgia Infantry. Soon after the enlistment the 60th Georgia marched toward Virginia.
Seven months later, the 60th Georgia fought in the harrowing Battle of Fredericksburg. Despite Confederate success on a day that has been dubbed "simply murder" for the Union Army, they lost 78 men on the battlefield.
You may wonder why a Confederate soldier matters in relation to Boscobel as it served as a Union Civil War Hospital (under Brig. Gen. Daniel Sickles) and not a Confederate Hospital. I was confused as well. Initially, I thought maybe he was a northern sympathizer who joined up with the Union Army. Not so.
Charles H. Gilley was one of several men, being injured on the battlefield, who was picked up by the Union Army and brought here to the hospital at Boscobel. Once arrived, his injuries warranted the amputation of his leg.
On December 17th, 1862 after his leg being amputated and seeming sensing his imminent death, he writes a letter to his wife.
It is the most touching letter I have ever read.
Can you imagine writing that letter? Receiving that letter? Those words! Sadly, he died the next day and was buried here at Boscobel. This is a story of humanity, all the way around. This man was picked up by the very men he was trying to kill (who also were trying to kill him), who then tried to save his life when the battle was over. In his letter he states that they were trying to make him comfortable.
After reading the letter I started trying to find information about Charles Gilley. It was difficult and took me a couple of months (it became an obsession of sorts). I assumed that since the Chaplain of the 2nd New York Volunteers wrote to his wife that he was with that division. His letter mentions Georgia in his letter though so I started digging in Georgia. Eventually, (after weeks) I come up with a muster card of his in Georgia and figured out that he is with the 60th Georgia Infantry. I tracked down a family member in Georgia and it was she that gave me a copy of the original letter.
THE ORIGINAL LETTER
His wife did eventually travel out West and remarry and have another child, but it was many, many years after Charles Gilley died. Did she take his advice and find someone best suited to her and her children?
SOLDIERS GRAVEYARD IN THE CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA
There were many camps near Falmouth, VA including Sickles Camp where our home is now, but this is an interesting look into what a graveyard/burial would look like at the time.
I recently took a trip to the White Oak Civil War Museum (and Stafford Research Center) on the chance that I might dig up something interesting about our Boscobel Farm. I drove there with no appointment, hoping to talk to someone about my research into the anecdotal stories and hard-facts surrounding our historic property.
I walked in, not sure what to expect and was immediately greeted by two gentlemen who were very happy to help me. What we discovered has sent me on a journey of discovery for the last six weeks. All of which I will continue to post about. Find all of the Boscobel Farm history I have uncovered here on our History page. This property is a well of lost mystery, ever deepening, waiting to be uncovered. My trip to the museum created many more questions than answers.
In the winter of 1862-1863, Brigadier General Daniel E. Sickles occupied the private home (manor house), Boscobel as his headquarters for the Second Division of the Armys Third Corp. As such, Union soldiers, numbering in the thousands camped around the house and on the surrounding property.
Boscobel as it likely looked during the occupation
During December 11-15, 1862 the men encamped here at Boscobel, fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg. The battle was described as "butchery" with Union casualties being three times more than that of their Confederate counterparts. During the battle, Sickles established a hospital here, in the house.
[Note: the center section of our home is seems to be built on the foundation of the original Boscobel manor house as we have discovered through research I will share in another post.]
Two hundred men, wounded in the Battle of Fredericksburg were left behind in the charge of a medical officer. Above is a transcribed, typewritten copy of a letter written by Sickles, establishing Boscobel as the division hospital (I'm trying to track down the original). This was surprising news to me and it never truly occurred to me that they would have used the headquarters as a hospital but it makes sense. I feel like if they were throwing limbs out of windows and such, they would have surely landed where our bedrooms are now. The center section of the home measured 39' wide x 27' deep (the exact dimensions of the center section of our home) and had seven rooms on the first floor, four on the second. I'm not sure how they treated quite so many wounded men but I suspect they were doing triage outside and some treatment in tents.
This is a fascinating development and ultimately it led me down yet another rabbit hole...stay tuned.