The Soldier’s Final Letter

Frederick City, Md. Sept. 13, 1862

Dear Mother,

We are near Frederick City expecting every hour to have an engagement with the enemy. I understand the enemy are under Gen. Lee, we have a tremendous army under Gen. Burnside. I hope our forces will be victorious, if we lose the battle it will be bad for us. There is a number of us writing home perhaps some that will never write again. We are about 60 miles from Washington. We have marched all the way, about 17 miles a day. We left William Thompson at Camp Whipple, Va., have not heard from him since we left. Mr. Ferdinand was left at the same place, I think he will be discharged soon. We camp without any tents, rain or shine. I think we shall have some tents soon. I expect to hear from home tonight, our chaplain came from Washington with the mail. I have not had a letter from Judith yet, hope I shall have one tonight. My conveniences for writing is very poor, haveing to write on the ground and a great deal of talk around me. Mr. Murry is sitting beside me mending his coat. Our orders are to march and I must close. Good bye. Your affectionate son,
Andrew J. Gile
Wilbur Fisk Gile spent a week or more on his trip to Maryland looking for more definite news of his brother Andrew’s fate. He visited Baltimore, Frederick, Boonsborough, and Sharpsburg, also Harper’s Ferry and Washington. He wrote his mother that there seemed no doubt the news of Andrew’s death was true:
Frederick City, Md., Oct. 3, 1862
My Dear Mother,
Yesterday, I went to Boonsborough on the coach and from there I went on foot to Kirtingsville and on the late Battlelfield. I saw a number of men of Co. G who knew Bro. Andrew well and they say that Dear Bro is not missing but killed, his belt and cartridge box worked with his name were found on a grave between Co. G. and Co. B. Mass 35 Rig. also a letter to you which has been sent to you and some other things. They all speak in the highest terms of praise of Dear Andrew and seem to have much sympathy for us. Dear Mother do not grieve for Bro Andrew as one lost but trust in God that he has been called home by a kind and all wise Father.
Your affc. Son W.F. Gile
My great-great uncle, Andrew Gile was a Soldier in Company G. of the 35th Massachusetts in the Civil War, and was killed at the Battle of Antietam, along with 214 other Soldiers of Co. G., on Sept 17. He was 34. Andrew’s body was never found. A monument for the 35th Massachusetts stands on the east side of Burnside Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield, about 20 miles from Frederick, Maryland, where I live today.
35th Massachusetts Volunteer Regimen Monument, Antietam Battlefield, NPS Photo
This Memorial Day, I remember Andrew Jackson Gile, and all the lives of both the North and the South, that were lost at the Battle of Antietam.

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