Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 1865 - The Civil War is Finally Over for Eli

The last letter I have from Eli to Calvin was dated July 22nd, datelined Union Springs, Alabama.  Calvin received it in Indiana on August 2nd, so I saved this last soldier's letter for this last monthly post.

Eli wrote:  "Dear Cousin, I seat myself once more at the pleasant task of answering your most welcome letter of July 1st and 2nd which made its appearance yesterday afternoon finding me enjoying very good health, was very glad to hear that you were all getting a long so well. We have just found the place where I like soldiering, Co K is doing provost duty here we have a house right in town very good shade around it, but still I would like to be at home, harvest wages were very good this season $2,00 is much better than 50 or 60 cts per day and then the grub is so much better.  That is what I look at -- you did not live on strong Coffee, spoilt bacon and hard tacks..."

Calvin must have commented on Eli's last letter's story of falling in love with "the best looking girl that I have seen since I have been in rebeldom" because he says, "Well you see the reason that I did not do with that young lady as you propose was this. You know that I am very bashful and should not like to approach one of the fair sex (in her standing especially,) so abrupt as to cause her and me both to faint on the spot. I'll just tell you what it is some very gay girls here in and around this little place.  If we should stay here a month or two I intend to have a chat with some of them sure. I was at Sunday School today and saw one that just smiled my taste she had such pretty curls and such ruby lips. Oh My but I wanted to go for her."

Eli returns to the 52nd's service "... There is a great deal of talk about our going to Mexico what do you think of that, I tell the boys that I shall have to go home to see pap before I can go to Mexico because I had to coax a long time before I could get his consent to go to fight the rebs and I think that I would have to coax some time longer before he would let me go to Mex.  It does not alarm me a bit to have them talk about going to Mexico because they know well enough that the whole command would rebel a great deal stronger than the south ever did."

"...I do not pity you for this reason because you have been there at home all the time and had all the chance in the world, and I have been away down here in Egypt a fighting the rebels but never mind the war is over with me now and I shall look around some for a wife.  Never you mind about going to see that widow for me I think that I can better myself right in this country I think I shall try at any rate. I wish you were here to eat water melons with me there is plenty of them and they are cheap too. I have just nearly lived on melons, apples and peaches since we have been here."

Eli then describes the provost duty -- yesterday they arrested a black man for stealing a lot of clothes. There are already two more in the jail, one for murder, and the other "for threatening to kill his master and burn his house down. The jail is about 10 feet square, a frame building cealed with two inch plank with one little hole cut in the back side about 12 inches square and bars put across one way."

Eli finishes the letter saying "The church bells are pealing forth their musical strains but it is too warm for me to go to church this after noon. We have very hot weather here now days." He also says they have plenty of fleas in the sandy soil.

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Eli Hause would officially muster out with the 52nd on the 10th of September.  A year later, he was again corresponding with his cousin Calvin as he left their home town and went to work in construction, first in other cities in Indiana, and then in Fairbury, Illinois-- a booming place with a new railroad just coming to town.  There he was attracted to the daughter of a neighbor, one Myra Jan (Jennie) Marciller, and obviously overcame the shyness he wrote about, because he described their first date as a walk from one end of town to the other, and got married to her two weeks later.  They moved to Missouri, just as Eli told Calvin he would do after marching through the state with the 52nd in 1864.

Jennie was remarkably small of stature, but a strong pioneer woman. While they moved around in western Missouri, she gave birth to the first three of the four children she and Eli would have, and made a log cabin quilt.  His brothers Elmer and William also tried to make a life in Missouri, but they both gave up and returned to Indiana. In the fall of 1874, Eli took his family back to Hardenburg as well.  Eli died of typhoid pneumonia on February 13th, 1877 when he was just 30 years old.

The Hause family has amassed a remarkable record of their genealogy, but until I contacted them, they were unaware of Eli's Civil War Service.  He had a very simple marker in the family plot in the local cemetery, which broke between my visits last summer and this spring.

Eli died almost exactly two years prior to Congressional authorization to provide official markers for veterans in private cemeteries.  A few months ago, I started the process of applying for one for him.  First I had to obtain his complete service record from the National Archives. I had been sorry that the family have no photos of Eli - though here's one of the two brothers that went to Missouri with him and Jennie - the younger Elmer (left) and his older brother, fellow veteran William:

With the Complete Service Record, I got this description of Eli, which at least partially answers one question the photo above raises - 

You can get a government-supplied stone marker for a veteran only if the grave is not currently marked. My application for the marker was answered with a request for proof that Eli is buried in the cemetery I named on the form.  Because of all the history between then and now, I couldn't provide the types of documents they asked for, but just yesterday, I spoke with a VA Memorials official and emailed the above photo of his grave marked with the small brass plaque (placed by the townspeople in about 1980), a photo of the family monument, and the local newspaper notification of Eli's death the county librarian found as my evidence.  Not long after our conversation, the VA official sent me an email saying she had approved  my request, adding that Eli's marker should be delivered to the monuments company in nearby N. Vernon, Indiana in four to six weeks.
When I started on the Civil War quilt series back in 2012, I had no idea I would end up rejoicing at the official approval notification I received from the VA this morning.  I did not make a block for Eli this month because I have not yet decided all of the blocks will go together and how many more I may need, but for August 2015, I'm satisfied to have a obtained different kind of memorial to Eli's service.

1 comment:

Anna Banana said...

Eli had a great advocate in you! It will be great to see the official monument in place at your next visit there! Great story.