On October 5, 1883 the New Castle Courier published a list of Henry county veterans and veteran's survivors who were drawing a pension for their wounds or the death of a family member from their service in the wars of the Union, the war of 1812 through the Civil War.
The following letter is a reply to the editor from George W. Thompson, a veteran of Company C, 36th. Illinois Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War who was drawing a pension at that time.
Why I am Drawing a Pension
When the first shot was fired on Fort Sumpter I was in Illinois. In July of 1861, I enlisted in Company C, 36h. Regiment Illinois Volunteers. Sending my wife and children to her father, who then lived in Cadiz, my regiment was ordered to Rolla, Mo. We stayed there until the latter part of February, 1862. In a blinding snowstorm we took up our line of march for Springfield. I would love here to give our marches through Missouri and Arkansas, but space in your valuable paper forbids. The battle of Pea Ridge under Seigel was our first fight. The siege of Corinth, under Pope; Perryville under McCook; next stone River, under Sill, who was killed; then Chickamagua, under Lytle, who was killed on Sunday morning about ten o'clock and your humble servant wounded and left on the field of battle a prisoner; wounded in the left leg below the knee. I was taken to the hospital, a Black-Jack tree, and this was all the shelter we had for three weeks; many died. We were loaded in cattle cars and sent to Atlanta; several died in the cars. We were so crowded that the wounded had no chance of any care. It seemed the idea was to kill all they could. When we landed at Atlanta we fared better, having tents, although on that cold New Year's night some of the worst wounded had their feet frozen. In March we were sent to Andersonville. There are suffering commenced. Without shelter, starved and chilled through with the cold, heavy dews of nights, strong men lay down and died, others would walk up to the dead line and ask the guards to shoot them. Hunger, cold, impure water, smallpox, scurvy, diarrhea and rebel lead killed thousands. About the first of August some five thousand of us were sent to Charleston. S. C., and placed in the city under the fire of our gunboats. We were in the city only a few days when we were again loaded into cattle cars and taken to Florence and put in another slaughter pen. About the 20th. of December, 1864, after being a prisoner over fifteen months with sick and starved creatures, I was exchanged and sent home, a mere skeleton, where I lay for days, yes weeks, all hope of recovery at times gone. At last I rallied, only to find a wife dead, my children scattered and a broken constitution.
Now, Mr. Editor, after going through the Mexican war in the bargain, if there should be anyone, even Mr. Beck, who should want my eight dollars per month stopped, let him please address me.