Pvt. Robert S. Parker, Co. G (1st)*, 13th New York Infantry, On the Death of Pvt. Ferdinand Willson

27 05 2020

The Death of Ferdinand Willson of Company G.

The following is a copy of a letter received by Mr. John M. Willson, this morning.

Washington, July 30, 1861.

Mr. J. M. Willson – Dear Sir: – I saw yesterday, a letter from you to Warren C. Jones, making inquiries in regard to your brother Ferd’s death, and as I carried him from the ranks when he fell, and stayed with him until he died, I thought it my duty, as his particular friend, (we have messed together since we went into camp,) to write to you in regard to the particulars, which are few. He was shot by a ball that had killed the man in front of him, and afterward passed into his (Ferd’s) breast, near the shoulder, and went through him, coming out considerably lower down than it entered, as he was probably stooping a little when it struck. I saw him drop, and immediately went to him, and as soon as he had shook hands with Capt. Lewis, and bid him “good bye,” (the most earnest farewell I ever saw) I carried him away, intending to take him to a log building about half a mile distant, which was used as a hospital.

But seeing that he would not have time to reach there, and the man who was assisting me being killed, I got him in a small trench near the fence, where he was safe from the flying balls, and stayed with him until he died. He recognized me, but did not say much. He asked me to take a ring from his pocket book and carry to his folks. But I could not as he laid on that side, and our regiment were on the retreat and closely pursued. I had to leave him to save my own life, which I barely did.

Yu spoke of recovering his body. It is impossible. If it could be done I would walk there and carry it home, and consider I was doing not more than my duty. The body of Col. Cameron, who was killed there, cannot be procured, and he is brother to the Secretary of War. But if peace is ever restored, so we can go there, I can show you the spot where he was shot and where he died. I have his knapsack and contents just as he left them, which I shall bring to you when we return, which I hope is in a few days.

I would have written you before this, but I expected we would be in Rochester before this time, and I know you would hear of his death from other sources.

Efforts are being made to have us held for two years, against the wishes of both officers and privates, but I don’t think they will be successful.

Truly your friend,
R. S. Parker,
Co. G, 13th Regt. N. Y. V.

Rochester (NY) Evening Express, 8/1/1861

Clipping Image

Contributed by John Hennessy

* This company transferred to the 3rd New York Cavalry on 9/1/1861

13th New York Infantry Roster 

Robert. S. Parker at Ancestry.com 

Robert. S. Parker at Fold3 



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