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Series II. Letters from Dr. William Harrison Githens [series]:
Dr. Githens wrote most of these letters while serving as a surgeon with the 78th Regiment, Illinois Volunteers, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division 14th Army Corps, and the U.S. General Hospital Division No. 10.

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Camp near Hamburg, TN
Addressee : Wife

"Still in all this beautiful land is desolation -the desolation of war." "Our boys seem determined - and most of them are anxious to fight."
Number of pages : 3

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Philadelphia, PA
Addressee : Wife

Studying medicine in Phil.-Tours the city during Thanksgiving (Letter is incomplete).
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Bridgeport, AL
Addressee : Wife

Describes crossing the mountains on a hard seven mile march with ambulances and twelve hundred teams in the ambulance train.
Number of pages : 3

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Field hospital three miles north of Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Wife

Terrible battle on Sunday-"we had 90 ambulances and about 40 wagons loaded-estimated at 700 wounded some of them very badly." "Sixty miles over the mountains"..."six days going and coming"-"thousands of wounded here in tents"..."our boys have proved themselves brave and noble soldiers".
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Wife

"Deserters still come in large numbers than ever. They say there is no use in fighting us any longer that the country is alive with "Yanks"..."It requires a hard struggle to decide between one's family and his country in danger"..."the hardships that may follow are almost too much to be borne. Yet in after years those who live to see the end will look back with pride" - Discusses his finances.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Camp near Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Wife

Back from almost a month long march - Describes the conditions on their return. "Our poor boys were nearly naked-dirty and barefooted". Discusses a possible leave of absence. Shows concern for his wife's pregnancy (confinement). Reviews his finances. "I will have the proud satisfaction of having done my duty for my country."
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Wife

Wife is about to give birth and Githens is anxious to know the result-Talks about a Surgeon's position and the possibility of going home-Mentions a sudden storm and very cold weather-Discusses use of churches and fine residences for hospitals, officer headquarters and for defenses - "This country will bear the devastating marks of war for many a year".
Number of pages : 3

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Near Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Louise (Daughter)

Reminds her of the importance of writing and spelling, as well as music - Wants her to be a good scholar -""Jack" (a black boy) has just come with his book wrong end up to ask me what some little letters spell"..."He seems pretty sharp"..."some of the Black Boys learn to read in a few weeks"... "if they only had teachers some of them would make good scholars"... "you wish for me to come home - how will the poor wounded boys get along - they must be taken care of"..."some of the poor fellows still lay here in the field Hospitals - poor and pale" - Talks about family affairs. Signed "Father"
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : U.S. General Hospital, Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Wife

Wife has given birth to a boy-Mentions children and family-Discusses a leave of absence disapproved-Conditions at camp are much improved-Mentions Battle of Chickamauga and Mission Ridge-Many people are returning, bands are playng as civilization returns.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : U.S. General Hopsital, Chattanooga, TN
Addressee : Wife

Talks of church services, the singing, the sermon-Anxious to get home on leave of absence-Thinks, for the children, "I could commence with new energies" and "make a name for myself that they would be proud of". Closes by saying "I have seen enough of battles and war-and have satisfied myself that I am not a coward-but a man is a fool to want to see more than one battle". (See also 9/18/64).
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Brigade hospital, near Rossville, GA
Addressee : Wife

He is very homesick and has received no letters- But "when I think how much is needed and how much willing hands may do, I feel that there is no way but to gather fresh courage and try a while longer" - Talks about deserters - "The desolation and sorrow that they have caused will be a stain on them as long as they live"..."poor deluded mortals they know not what they did".
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Headquarters, near Rossville, GA
Addressee : Wife

May at any moment get marching orders and is sending most of his clothing to the rear-Went out to the battlefields to take up the dead for burial in the new U.S. Cemetery in Chattanooga-"we were glad to have a chance to put the poor fellows where they can rest in peace-we must not think defeat after having gained so much". Also talks about their financial position.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Camp, in the woods in the rail road about five miles from Marietta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Discusses a potential battle for Marietta and is very positive about their military position-Mentions the Southern corn diet-Wishes he could be home for the 4th of July-Describes the band music that cheers the troops-Discusses the rebel deserters who are lied to by their officers and keep coming every day-"the poor deluded folks keep on fighting and sacrificing thousands of lives on both sides" - Army has complete confidence in General Sherman and "we'll go wherever he tells them".
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Camp, three or four miles southwest of Marietta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Writes about Church - "today being a beautiful Sabbath as calm and quiet as though no such thing as war existed" - Wishes he was home - Mentions General Sherman's strategy of "running around their (Rebel) ends" - Discusses his pay and his finances.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, Chattahoochee River, GA
Addressee : Wife

Mentions "there has been but little fighting for a few days...we have a very large force across the river and the prospect is very fair that we will be in Atlanta before long" - Writes "ours and the Rebel picket lines are close together...will all have some wonderful old soldier stories to tell if we get home".
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, Chattahoochie River, Trinings (?) Station, GA
Addressee : Daughter

Writes "Don't think how anxious we soldiers are to get letters on anything from home - reminding us of comfort and plenty-and the quiet times of peace" - Asks that his daughter attend diligently to her studies - Talks about his son Willie - Hopes Ma will have enough money to raise chickens and two or three pigs - Mentions that the sick and wounded get plenty to eat and are well cared for.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, 4 Miles from the Chattahoochee on the road to Atlanta, GA
Addressee : Wife

"Atlanta is ours" - "We had quite a number wounded in the Division and a good many sick"..." dressing wounded before sunrise-and worked til late in the day before ambulances were sent - then we loaded and sent away load after load until late in the night"..."I don't doubt that there is more rejoicing at home than here" - "the soldier soon becomes indifferent to all joys and sorrows" - Describes John McGovern's roadside grave - "How we long for the slaughter to stop"
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, 5 or 6 miles from Atlanta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Mentions that he was mistaken; Atlanta has not been taken but their forces occupy strong positions-Writes about possible new hospital locations-Conditions are good except for thousands of flies - "They are into everything-we hardly bother to skim them out of our coffee or soup." Talks about how hard it is to replace clothing - "Things are so enormously high that I can hardly afford them" (Letter is incomplete)
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, 5 miles S.W. Atlanta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Talks about the children, their finances, improvements on the house - He needs clothes -"I am the shabbiest dressed Medical Officer here" - Comments on the campaign "our Commander is not very keen to take Atlanta just at present" - Discusses in graphic terms the treatment of battle wounds.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hospital, Atlanta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Mentions improvements to the house-His division is going to garrison Atlanta-He is in charge of the Amputated Ward and the worst cases and gets a great many compliments from the soldiers- Gen'l Sherman has issued orders to remove the rebel civilians-"it seems cruel almost to require families to leave their homes and go, they know not where" - Discusses distinctions in rank -Talks about a future medical practice and that he will no longer accept any position in the Army.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Dept. Cumberland Medical College Atlanta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Mentions slowly entering Atlanta-Using bales of cotton for beds-"I suppose there was a good deal of rejoicing all through the North at our success-but we took it very cooly-one thing made it different, our sad losses-and the care of the wounded". Describes the environment, train whistles, engine bells, various bands, etc. - "quite a contrast to laying out in the woods for months and being treated to ten inch shells for music" - Balance of letter is about getting paid and his finances; also about the surgical skills he has developed.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Medical College, Atlanta, GA
Addressee : Wife

Discusses a church service - Only thing missing is the female voice - Soldiers on guard at the door - Soldiers are taking "a resting spell" - Working day and night to build comfortable quarters - Mentions how homes are destroyed to get wood and brick.
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Officers' Hospital, 24th and Chestnut St. Philadelphia, PA
Addressee : Wife

"I feel like getting well rapidly-gaining strength quite fast"..."I expect it will be several days yet before I am in condition to travel". Talks about getting home and his plans for the future - "I shall count the hours until I am free once more yet I would much prefer to see the war ended first-You know I would get a little credit for the long years of hardship already endured if I should come home a few months before the rest did. Still that would matter very little if my own conscience was satisfied"
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Camp, Holly Springs, NC
Addressee : Wife

"This cruel war is over at last and we are to start for home" - Talks about travel arrangements to get home - Has ordered newspapers containing information about Lincoln's murder - Closes letter by saying "when orders are read that all the rebel armies have surrendered and that we are to go home, then the woods ring - old hats go up into the air and every kind of noisy demonstration is resorted to"
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Headquarters, near Fort Slemmer, Washington, DC
Addressee : Daughter

He is on his way home hopefully looking forward to a 4th of July welcome celebration - "all these days of toil are over and I hope forever - still we do not regret what we have endured when we think how much good it has done"
Number of pages : 2

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Headquarters, camp, near Fort Slemmer, Washington , DC
Addressee : Wife

Disappointed that he has been detained so long and is going through such tedious paperwork - "I shall be so glad when I am once more free - when I can call myself and my time my own"..."I am more impatient at a week's delay than I used to be at a month"..."it seems that I have grown so accustomed to excitement and danger that the dull monotony of home life will soon tire - I hope not - for I used to love home as well as anyone"
Number of pages : 4

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Hamilton, IL
Addressee : Sarah (Githen's grand - daughter)

Congratulates his granddaughter on the fact that she is about to receive her teacher's credentials - Talks about the weather and the and the local bird population - Mentions family affairs - Signed "Gramps"
Number of pages : 3 and envelope.

  4  
Writer : The Carthage Republican
Writer's location : Carthage, IL

The Carthage Republican - Githens' Obituary


  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Unknown
Addressee : Mr. President

Discusses horticulture and gardening.
Number of pages : 8 page photocopy

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Nashiville, Tennessee and Macon City, Missouri
Addressee : Wife

Three letters, two are just dealer description not the actual letter, all are copies. Discuss churches in Nashville TN, illness of soldiers, living conditions, Battle of Platt City, MO.
Number of pages : 5 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Four letters, two are just dealer description, not the actual letter, all are copies. Discuss Fort Payne, Kentucky, Bird's Point Missouri, drunkenness, buying a horse, Pittsburgh Landing, Tennessee River, Cairo, illness of men.
Number of pages : 8 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Philadelphia, PA
Addressee : Wife

Six letters, all are copies. Discuss taking musket balls from trees as keepsakes, Continental Hotel in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, Cousin Sammy Scull, taking classes in Philadelphia and wondering about being able to afford a graduating, visiting the mint to see money being made and the Academy of Sciences, also other sites of Philadelphia including the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Mentions church attendees in their furs, wishing he and his wife were rich to travel, wanting to be home for Christmas.
Number of pages : 16 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife and daughter Louise

Nine letters, several are just dealer description not the actual letter, all are copies. Discuss troop movements, homesickness, battle at Franklin Tennessee, botched hanging of Confederate spies, taking over a confederate camp, with map, encouragement to daughter to keep up studies,
Number of pages : 17 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Six letters, all are copies. Discuss wounded soldiers, hunger, measles, mumps, smallpox, blistered feet, Confederate deserters, Chattanooga Tennessee, Chickamauga Station battle, sketches of soldier life.
Number of pages :21 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Seven letters, several are just dealer description not the actual letter, all are copies. Discuss a brother digging grave for another brother, re-electing Lincoln, citizen rations, Georgia, bringing decaying remains in from the battlefield, church.
Number of pages : 17 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Five letters, several are just dealer description not the actual letter, all are copies. Discuss Chattanooga, starving rebels, buying a house, bad vaccines causing the soldiers sores, retrieving dead from the field.
Number of pages :18 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife and daughter

Nine letters, several are just dealer description not the actual letter, all are copies. Discuss capturing several thousand pounds of tobacco and prisoners, amputations, women, battle of Kennisaw Mountain, schoolwork of his daughter, Atlanta,
Number of pages : 16 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Five letters, all are copies. Discuss taking in rebel wounded and dead, severe wounds, maggots in wounds, shot to the head of Colonel, Van Vleck, rebels destroying millions of dollars of property as they retreated, people of the South relating to Yankees,
Number of pages : 23 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Six letters, all are copies. Discuss cold weather sleeping, soldier life, lack of pay, occupying a wealthy plantation mansion, U.S. Christian Commission, Christmas.
Number of pages : 12 pages of photocopies

  4  
Writer : William Harrison Githens
Writer's location : Various
Addressee : Wife

Nine letters, all are copies. Discuss camp life, battles, capture of Richmond and Petersburg, end of the war,
Number of pages : 23 pages of photocopies