Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dulce et decorum est ...

Charles H. Carrel (also spelled Carrell) received this Bible as a 21st birthday gift from his mother on June 19, 1860 -- 146 years ago this week.
On that day and on June 24, 1860 -- 146 years ago today -- he signed his name in a strong, proud, clear hand on the front and rear endpapers.
He didn't sign just plain Charles. He was Mr. Charles.
He was a stalwart son of North Jersey from Center Grove in Randolph Township near Morristown, Morris County. Center Grove is no longer a town, but rather a section of the township.

In the spring of 1861, Carrel was caught up in the wave of patriotism that washed over the Union following the Confederate bombardment in April of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
The Civil War was under way.
On May 27, 1861, he enlisted as a corporal in Co. B, 2nd N.J. Volunteer Infantry and trained with the regiment at a place called Camp Olden in Trenton.
On June 28, 1861 -- Wednesday will be the 145th anniversary -- the regiment left New Jersey for Virginia, 1,044 officers and men strong.
This Bible -- an inch and three-quarters thick, 5 inches long, three and a quarter inches wide -- was likely nestled in a corner of his knapsack.
Carrel must've been a good soldier. On Sept. 2, 1861, he was promoted to sergeant.
His regiment's first taste of combat was a series of battles called the Peninsula Campaign in Virginia in the spring and summer of 1862. The campaign was an unsuccessful attempt to capture the Confederate capital, Richmond.

On July 30, 1862, Carrel, just 23 years old, died of typhoid in a military hospital at Point Lookout, Md. He probably drank some bad water and was treated by a well-intentioned doctor who, like his colleagues, knew little about disease and even less about its spread.
A friend or relative marked Carrel's passing on a blank page in the Bible opposite the first page of the New Testament.
"He Died for his Country," reads the inscription.
He was buried in Mt. Freedom Presbyterian Cemetery, Randolph Township.

The inscription reads: "Chas H Carrell died July 30th 1862 At Point Lookout MD Aged 23 years ... He Died for his Country... The Lord gave + the Lord takeeth [sic] away blessed be the name of the Lord - Job Chap 21 verse - It is the Lord Let Him do what What [sic] seemeth Him good / Sam 3:18"

By war's end in 1865, more than 600,000 men and boys on both sides had died, two-thirds of them, like Carrel, of disease.
This Bible rescues this young man from the realms of statistics and anonymity.
He was flesh and blood.
And the circle continues.

Charles Carrel's headstone

The grave marker placed by the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization made up of Civil War veterans. Note that Carrel's name is misspelled.

Footstone of Carrel's grave

Brother John

Brother William

Mother (possibly stepmother)

Father (who spelled the family name Carrell)



Carrel/Carrell family plot

Mt. Freedom Presbyterian Church, built 1826, Mt. Freedom, Randolph Twp., N.J.


Matt Kohai said...

Very interesting story. Some books tell far more than what the author originally intended... I have a book of chess rules, circa 1890's, with marked of prior ownership linking it to an archbishop, and to someone in Thailand. No bad for fifty cents at a garage sale...

LBseahag said...

This was awesome...I love how your mind works...

Michael said...

I love how interconnectedness works.

isabel said...

brilliant! your stories of sluething these bits of human history should become a book.

Michael said...

Thanks, Isabel! Truth trumps fiction almost every time...

Anonymous said...

This is good work. Life/Death Yoga. You are a Noble Warrior. I am inspired by you and I salute you. We are all on the conveyor belt today, thank you for reminding me.

Michael said...

Thanks, anon.