Good Words from a Johnny

I’m working on a book for Savas Beatie tentatively titled “The National Tribune Remembers the Atlanta Campaign.” In the National Tribune of Jan. 27, 1898, I came came across this sad tale of a Union veteran. The “Good Words from a Johnny” are presumably the expressions of sympathy sent in by the Confederate cavalryman.

Good Words from a Johnny.

John R. Cleburn, 2d Cherokee Cav., C.S.A., Springfield, Mo., writes: “We have a Union soldier in this city who is a total wreck in both mind and body. He has not been able to walk for eight years, and during that time has not been able to dress without assistance. His wife is compelled to feed him most of the time, and the attendance of a nurse is often required. This soldier gets $24 per month pension. His claim for an increase was rejected Nov. 11. He was refused a rerating of $72 per month in 1895. Now this man is suffering for food. He has not clothes to keep warm, and no money. It looks hard to see a man suffer who gave his health that his country might live.”

For those who lament Americans’ apathy toward our veterans today, it looks like the malaise has petty deep roots.

3 Responses to Good Words from a Johnny

  1. I agree with this wholeheartedly. After the Revolution, the soon-to-be country had very little money….that’s no excuse now. And it wasn’t post-Civil War, either, but it seems to have taken them a while to expand the pension rolls to include all who needed one. And of course, the Southern states got no Federal funds for pensions at all, so the Southern states had to take care of them, but I don’t recall any Confederate veterans (all now US citizens, except Jefferson Davis) being left in this condition – friends, families, and fellow veterans (all now US citizens) chipped in. Homes were established for the elderly. They may have been poor but they werern’t freezing and starving. If a veteran couldn’t afford train fare to a reunion, a collection was taken to fund his trip. And so on – good research topic if it hasn’t already been done.

    1. I don’t know how well the Southern states took care of the Confederate veterans. The Daughters of the Confederacy was founded to memorialize and *also* to provide financial support for veterans and their families. I recently came across one widow of a Confederate veteran whose claim was denied because her husband allegedly took the oath to the U.S. It appears some Southern states looked for reasons to deny claims. Which unfortunately is not too different from today.
      Tom Crane

  2. The part of the statement about “malaise toward veterans” really doesn’t apply to the post 9/11 generation. I’ve known way too many individuals seriously involved in veteran’s support and fund raising. It is a welcome change from the walk away approach we seemed to embrace after Vietnam.

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