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.
AS FEATURED ON: