Identifier

MSS.6.128

Date

7-4-1864

Subjects

United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865; Bruen, Augusta Forrer--Correspondence; United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Women

Notes

8 pages; note from Sarah Forrer added at end

Transcription

Dayton July 4th 1864 My dear sister, I expected Augusta would answer thy last, and she told me she would but she feels so badly, after writing to a very dear friend, that she begged me to assure her other friends, I will copy her letter to her friend Mrs. Thornton of Sandusky City for I think it will give her the best idea of the Mayor's last days that can be given and will also show thee her state of mind. She says you wish to hear from me you say, but, I fear my letters will be unsatisfactory, for I feel so strangely that I cannot explain myself clearly. Such a strange unnatural calm! So different from the state of mind I should have expected for myself! Only two weeks ago, today, and one of the saddest days of my life was passing the day before. Luther had had a chill and I knew it was considered a *false* symptom, yet he was unconscious of his danger, merely remarking "here is another backset." Sunday morning he was, generally, delirious, but in one of his intervals of soreness, I told him as gently as I could of his situation, I don't know that I could have done it if he had not noticed and remarked upon my red face and swollen eyes, the first time he had seen me so, for self control had been granted me in a degree that now seems wonderful to me. He was startled, and said, "I did not think so" In answer to my question, "Darling has it seemed to you that your end might be very near?" He said, "I thought those two young men (his surgeons) said they could cure me." I answered, "They had labored, both hard," and lovingly, he said yes he knew they had, but he could not feel that he was a dying man, he felt strong and able to live twenty years yet, "I don't want to die now, I want to establish my family." Then seeing one of his surgeons he called him, and said he wanted to know why they thought he must die and insisted on having another surgeon called, they both agreed to this, but told him to keep up his spirit if possible, that was his only hope. He then asked me to write a note for, but when I brought the paper, took it from me and wrote the note himself, almost every word being legible. It was to Mr. Chase (who had been very kind to him) asking him to recommend a surgeon, he came and brought one but he gave me no hope. Luther knew everybody, but soon forgot and the next day could not remember anyone who had called. All day long I watched him in agony, for I though he *may* die that day. Jere came, and his cousin Col. Crane and Mr. & Mrs. Adlin were all there, and great comfort to me. Towards ten o'clock, his breathing became freer, and the D's thought he might last several hours. About midnight, he aroused and spoke more distinctly than he had been able to for two or three days, and remained clear headed till noon the next day. He talked with me, that morning about the future. Still thought himself strong enough to live. Could go home, if he must, *unmurmuringly*, but grieved over the heavy burden. I must bear alone! He knew, he said, I would do my best, but it was too much for me. He had hoped we were about to renew the dear happy life we had once led, and which had been interrupted by this cruel war. The day before he had sometimes spoken as if he thought we were doing nothing for him, and I now asked him if he did not think I had done all I could for him. "Yes everything you could possibly do, " He answered slowly, and emphatically. And Oh! what a comfort to me that answer was, and still is. All afternoon he was delirious, but always knew me. Once, I sang to him when he was very restless. (I could not once before when he asked me and it grieved me deeply) He opened his eyes, smiled, and bowing me down, kissed me twice, saying it sounded very sweetly. The next day, however, he remembered nothing of it. (Augusta said "I would not live always ) again, at midnight, on Monday his mind became clear, and on Tuesday I began to have lively hopes that he might yet live and told him so. Mr. & Mrs. Corwin arrive that morning, and shared my hope with me. He seemed weaker, and somewhat depressed, but his tongue looked better, and his mind did not wander even through his fever. At midday, Jere went to his dinner about three or four o'clock, leaving Robert & Eliza with me. At five, I urged them to go to their dinner, as I had sent for mine to be brought to me and Luther would not be left with the nurses. They went, Eliza telling him that she would not return till morning, but Robert would come in the evening. But Oh! Nannie, in twenty minutes after, he was dead! I gave him a little tender beef, which he ate, but said it was not good. I began to eat my dinner, but observed him drawing up the cover, and going to him asked if he was cold? "Yes if you don't take care I'll have another chill." Even as he spoke he began to shake, and shook hard for fifteen minutes. "Oh just as we thought it was all getting straight, here comes this chill," was all he said.I gave him up then, but thought he would have another chill, as the third generally takes them from us. I felt desolate, and began writing a note to Eliza and Jere. Just then a lady of our acquaintance came in and spoke to him. And we both think he recognized her. I finished my note, while she sat by him, just sent it, when she called to me. And, the terrible sight I then saw, may I never see again! In an instant the awful change had come over that dear dear face. Oh! I had never seen one die before and it was very hard to learn the sad lesson then! Mrs. Everts told me, the struggle was very short, but it seemed awful to me, as I hung wildly on each gasp. Only three and he was gone! God spare you the agony of such a moment my dear kind friend. My wild grief was calmed the next day when I saw him at rest, so peacefully at rest. After his weary marches and tedious confinement. I felt then that I could not wish him back for his own sake. We have laid him in a sweet spot in our cemetery, and it still still seems rest for him, very sad days must come to me, but not more for him. He was ever unselfish towards me in life, I must now keep down every selfish wish, and still say *"Thy will not mine be alone"* I have said it Nannie and trust I feel it. Write often, your letters do me good and I must claim a little indulgence till I grow stronger. Yours lovingly, Augusta [Appended letter on torn page] Howard's last was dated June 28th. Kennesaw Mountain. He does not say anything about his health. They seem to be constantly engaged, and I am very anxious, and fearful. Poor dear Augusta tries to feel resigned, but it is hard to do. The dear children are well excepting baby, who is threatened with Summer complaint. We expect to keep them with us, unless it should be Augusta's wish to live alone. At present she does not wish it, and we do wish to keep them with us. Love to all at the farm at home and to Edward, when thee writes. Affectionately *thy sister*, Sarah

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