A Comrade's Lament

on the death of

Samuel H. Peshall

Private, Company G, 18th Illinois Volunteer Infantry

Submitted by John Bartos

The following letter written by Orlando Devere Schooley, Sr. was found in his personal diary. It contains numerous writings, notes, autographs and some Civil War memorabilia. The fly leaf of the diary contains the following inscription: "O.D. Schooley's Book A.D. 1859." Several pages into the Schooley diary is a writing which says the following:

"Lines addressed to the Parents of the late Samuel Peshall killed at the Battle of Fort Donelson, Tenn. Feb 15th, 1862.

Dear Friends,
Let me join in your mourning.
My heart thinks the same saddened tones.
Your son died defending my country.
Then surely your grief is my own.

He fell by the hand of a traitor;
And shall his blood unavenged flow!
O Mother, though heartstrings are breaking,
Let winds hear the echo "No, No".

I know not a Mother's deep anguish,
As she yields to the grave her son,
But O! If my country demanded
I'd whisper, Let thy will be done.

My sympathy gladly I give you,
Alas, your sad heart asks for more!
It yearns to embrace as it has done,
The dear form, earth cannot restore.

No more from his sleep shall he waken,
To hear the reveille at morn,
No booming of cannon shall rouse him,
To brave with his comrades the storm.

I think not his young life was wasted,
How few that have lived to old age,
Have left us so bright an example.
To record on history's page.

The price of a Nation's preserving
Is seen at Fort Donelson's grave.
But better our sons die in battle
Then we all submit to be slaves.

May the kindest of Heaven's rich blessings
Be granted the parents who mourn,
And a Nation with gratitude cherish,
The sacrifice bravely they've borne.

Eternity only will show thee,
Why blights o'er thy brightest hopes fell,
Until then, in quiet submission,
Like Samuel respond, "All is well".

Composed by Emily E. Spery per O.D. Schooley"

Based upon information received from the Fort Donelson National Cemetery administration, Samuel H. Peshall is not "listed among the known soldiers buried in the Fort Donelson National Cemetery. 512 of the 670 Civil War burials are unknown soldiers. It is most likely that he is buried in one of the unknown graves".

Ironically, O.D. Schooley, who was also a Private in Company "G", 18th Illinois Infantry, was wounded at Fort Donelson, Tennessee on the very same day (15 February 1862) as Private Peshall was killed. Private Schooley was captured by Confederate forces and taken to Nashville, Tennessee for treatment of wounds. He later was returned to Union forces during a prisoner exchange.

Samuel H. Peshall was born in England in 1836 and was an engineer by vocation prior to his military service. The eldest of seven children, he lived with his parents and siblings in Clay County, Illinois on a farm worked by his father, The Peshall farm was located immediately adjacent to that of Elder William Schooley and his family, including son Orlando D. Schooley. It is believed because of this relationship and probable friendship between the families that O.D. Schooley undertook this letter to Peshall's parents after his death.

It is not known when this letter to Peshall's parents Charles and Elizabeth Peshall, was written, but is thought to have been dictated by O.D. Schooley and recorded by his nurse or other attendant while he was interned at a Nashville, Tennessee Confederate States of America hospital or while recuperating in the Saint Louis City General Hospital. Schooley's wounds prevented his use of either of his arms and it is, therefore, believed the letter was formulated by him and recorded by Ms. Spery.

O.D.Schooley's wounds disqualified him from further military duties and he was subsequently medically discharged from the Union's Federal forces on 9 August, 1862 at St. Louis, Missouri. Subsequently, he returned to his home in Clay City, Illinois where he lived until his death on 28 January 1906.

For further information concerning Orlando Devere Schooley's military service and life, see his biographical sketch and photo in the Illinois Civil War Veterans' Photo Album.

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