16 January 2015

Loose Trains and Bolts in the Gut Part II

We continue our exploration of the abdominal injury to William Kile at a depot in Memphis, Tennessee, with a letter written by an eyewitness to the incident. John Cunningham wrote to the Commissioner of Pensions in response to an inquiry for more information and a more detailed statement. Cunningham's letter is reproduced here first.

It's a little unnerving to imagine these soldiers standing by the warehouse seeing the freight cars headed their way and being unable to move.

[begin transcription]

To the Hon Mr. John C Black
Commissioner of Pensions
Washington D C

Dear Sir

Regarding My Information on the Claim of William [-] Kile one of the [---] that Sent out to guard the Supply Train from Memphis to holly Springs Miss under Charge of Lietenant Markem I was and Eye witness to the Accident at the Charleston Depot in Memphis he marched to the East Side of the Depot there A Railroad Track for Loading freight bordered one file of the Men Between the Track and the Brick wall one of the men Remarked that the men would

 all killed the place was [to?] other and Markim Refused to Some Loose freight under charge of A Brakeman Came Down the Track and squashed Down Every man of that file Some two or three were killed and Several others Badly Hurt Some thing Belonging to the Cars Struck William Kile in the Abdomen on the Right Side and Tore open the Lower Part of the Abdomen Which the Rupture as near as Can get at the Date it was in the month of August 1863 All Blame was to Lieutenant Markim I was on the Detail and Seen the whole of the Accident
                                                                                                Pleas Excuse my Pore Writing
Mr. John C. Black Commissioner of Pensions Washington D.C.

Yours Most Respectfully

John Cunningham
[end transcription]

Cunningham's letter was written response to this request (not transcribed here):

Stay tuned...we have two other statements from comrades of William Kile.

Markham himself also submitted a statement. And, as one can expect, his story was a little different.

Source: undated letter of John Cunningham, stamped as received in the Pension Office 22 May 1885, Civil War Pension File of William Kile, Company B, 37th Iowa Infantry Invalid’s Application #525005, Invalid’s Certificate #321230, NARA Record Group 15.
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