8th Vermont Infantry
Death of Captain John S. ClarkHead Quarters 8th Vt. Vols.
Lieut. Geo F. French
I take leave to write you a few lines in regard to our company. You have doubtless before this heard of the death of Capt. Clark, he died at New Orleans the 20th of March. He was taken sick the night of the last day of Feb. with the Diarrhoea, he would not have the Surgeon until the 3rd of March, he called soon after. He pronounced his case a disease of the liver and thought he would be out again in a few days. He remained in his tent and began to get better in a day or two, and bid fair for recovery until the 17th of March, when he was apparently on a decline, his friends advised him to go to New Orleans. He consented late in the afternoon. I noticed he was failing and from that time till the next morning he failed as fast as any man I ever saw. Previous to that he was so as to be up around and walked out every day. That morning he had to be carried to the cars on a litter. We sent his waiter, Henry Woodcuff, with him. We fixed him in the Car and made him as comfortable as we could. He was reported better after he arrived at New Orleans. Late in the day on the 20th the Col. had a telegraphic dispatch that he was passed recovery. He died that night at 6 O clock. I understand that his Hutch of Gretien [perhaps a fraternal order?] took charge of his burial at her own expense, his remains, being in such a condition that it was not thought possible that he could be sent home at this time of the year.
His remains are placed in a vault and will be in a condition for removal next fall if his friends think proper.
Our regiment are camped at Bayou Beouf, 7 miles from Brashear City - we left Brashear in a hurry on the night of the 20th. It was reported that the rebels had been reinforced at the [four or five words unreadable here] thought proper a [one word unreadable, may be "retreat"]. We were ordered to strike tents at 12 A.M. and before daylight the whole Brigade was on bord [sic] the cars. We understand that the rebels the other side the Bay, hearing the cars coming in, and out that night thought we were being reinforced and were going to make an attack and they commenced Skedaddling on the double quick that night, the two forces camped 30 miles apart. The cars run to Brashear City every day now, no signs of any rebels about there.
In regard to the condition of our company, I will send you a coppy [sic] of our morning report which will show you about how we stand. I presume you are posted as to the promotions that have been made since you left.
You are 1st Lieut.
Geo. C. Ford - Lieut.
N.C. Cheney 1st Sergt.
P. Porter 2 "
G.D. Gilman 3 "
C.M. Snow 4 "
J.W. Smith 5 "
T.L. Ford 1st Corp.
C.W. Parkes 2 "
The rest remain as they are.
There is a great deal of talk amongst our company about who will be our next Capt. It is regretted very much that you are not here, but it is not thought here that you are expected to return here. Therefore we expect that we shall have to take a Capt. of some other company, which our boys very much.
In regard to your resigning, I wish to say a word.
If you should resign I wish you would do me a favor as we expect a man from another company for capt., and as you are well aware, it is natural for Commissioned officers to have some prejudice in favor of Sergeants of the old C. it may be that when you resign the Capt. who may be will try to get some one from another company for 2 Lieut., which justly belongs to me, and which I should be sure of if Capt. Clark had lived. Therefore, I wish that when you resign you would suggest to the Col. such recommendation as may cast merits. Small favors are great works in this show. I trust to your good will toward me for the favor.
N. C. Cheney
Source: Original at U.S. Army Military History Institute; transcribed and annotated by Ron Coddington. Besides the details of Capt. Clark's death, the letter shows Nathan Cheney had been promoted to 1st Sergt. by this date. The 1892 Revised Roster did not have a date for his promotion [tl].