John Seage

 

John Seage entered service as the chaplain for the Fourth Michigan Infantry on July 10, 1862 at Falmouth, Virginia. He was 45 years old at the time. He was commissioned on July 20, 1862 and mustered into Federal service the same day. John was wounded in action on June 8, 1863 when he was bushwhacked by Confederate guerrillas trying to rob him of the mail and cash that he was traveling with. He went home on a medical furlough to recover afterwards and wrote this letter to Michigan’s Governor Austin Blair, while he was still recovering. John mustered out at the expiration of the term of his service on June 29, 1864. In August of 1864 he re-enlisted in Company F of the Re-organized Fourth Michigan Infantry and was commissioned Chaplain once again. He mustered out of service on May 26, 1866. John died on November 25, 1883 in New Jersey and is buried in Fountain Cemetery, Staten Island, New York.

 

 

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Chaplain John Seage; Ella Sharp Museum

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TRANSCRIPTION

To his Excellency Gov. Blair                                                                                         Dec. 23, 1863

Sir,

Permit me to present to your notice and if possible to your executive action the following.

You are doubtless aware that on the 8th of June last, while I was on my way from Kelly’s Ford to Washington (to express monies for the officers and men of the regiment and do sundry errands), I was attacked by 5 guerrillas  with revolvers presented who demanded my surrender- I asked by what authority? The leader replied- “In the name of Mosby’s Cavalry” I said “I do not recognize that authority and shall not surrender” – (I was alone on horseback and had $7000.00 and five watches and 26 letters to mail). The three fired, one ball going through my right wrist breaking the radius, and severing the radial artery, entered my right breast and stuck between the ribs. My horse sprung to the right. They then fired another volley. A ball entered the point of my left shoulder passing 13 inches through the back and lodged close to the spine from whence it was cut out. The third volley was fired as my horse was leaping across a ravine, one ball making a flesh wound in the left leg.

I got off with my trust, to me more valuable than life. I was taken of from the horse and put into a tent nearly dead from the loss of blood. After remaining five days, was ordered by General Meade to Washington for medical treatment (the army being then on the march to Pennsylvania) and from thence home to White Pigeon on sick leave as a wounded officer. I left Washington June 18th and returned to my regiment September 23rd. I drew my pay on my return to Washington, most of which I sent home to pay monies that I had borrowed to pay my own expenses, and my two sons, one of whom was so terribly wounded in the battle of Gettysburg defending the Colors by the side of our much loved Colonel Jeffords. Last week the paymaster paid off our regiment but told me he had orders to stop my pay as he had no right to have paid me the time I was wounded, three months and five days.

The law of Congress 17th June 1862 says “Chaplains shall receive $100 per month and two rations a day when on duty.” It being assumed that I was on duty when absent, wounded in the performance of my duty. This is an act of injustice. I cannot see why Chaplains should not be treated as other commissioned officers are. If sick or wounded, we have no pay. If disabled for life, no pension. If killed, our families have to hold up a paupers hand for bread.

Governor, I never feared or shrank from duty or danger in camp, battlefield , or hospital. I have borne off our wounded in the midst of battle and cared for the dead at the risk of my own life, who would have been left otherwise to the cruelties of the rebel hordes. I have never slunk behind when the cannon roared or ran from the sight of blood.

My regiment is as dear to me as ever was a congregation to the heart of a pastor. But, Sir, my family asks for bread or money and I have a dear son, the pride and hope of our family, at home in physical and mental agony. Many of our chaplains haft left their work and gone from exile to home, perhaps they were not to blame. I am , and have been since May 1862, the only chaplain in the brigade, and the sick, dying, and burials claim much of my time. Dear Sir, the Chaplaincy is not a sinecure. My son, R. Watson Seage, commissioned by you 2nd Lieut. last spring (not sure of date) was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg as follows: one ball entered the right breast, went through the right lung, came out near the spine, an explosive ball entered under the back of the left shoulder, came out under the right arm, balls passed through the left thigh, the calf of the right leg and left heel, and while lying on the field supposed by the enemy to be dead the next day, a rebel ran his bayonet through the upper part of the left thigh and came out under and inside the knee joint.

Richard W. Seage;Steve Roberts collection

Richard W. Seage; Steve Roberts collection

This is his condition at home in White Pigeon, Michigan. Ruined for life, maimed, and penniless. He went before the commissioners to be examined twice in order to be mustered in as a 2nd Lieut. A day and hour was appointed at Aldie. Before the hour arrived, the regiment had orders to march to Gettysburg. He has drawn no pay for eight months, can’t get none because he has not been mustered in as 2nd Lieut. I have sent his papers to the War Department (through the proper channel) asking an order from that Department for his muster in Michigan. But weeks have passed and nothing has been heard from them.

Sir, perhaps a letter from you to the War Department would set forth these matters and would induce acts in our favor. I have written to Hon. J. M. Howard about my case, but not that of my son. If you need any testimonials of either of us, they may be had quickly.

Pardon me, Governor, if I have exceeded the bounds of prudence in this communication. My pressing circumstances, and that of my family, must be my only apology. I have one son left in the regiment who has been in every battle but unharmed. My son at home had his skull cut open at the Battle of Malvern Hill and fell by the side of the gallant Woodbury and laid 42 hours on the field and was taken to Belle Isle as prisoner.

If you, Sir, can give this communication some early notice, you will oblige much.

Yours very truly,

John Seage     Chaplain 4th Mich. Infantry

 

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Biographical sketch

The content of both these letters pertain to Pvt. John Ransom Moore (1827-1863) of Co. I, 4th Michigan Infantry, who was killed in the maelstrom of the Wheatfield on the 2nd day of Gettysburg. John R. Moore was the son of Loren R. Moore (1800-1829) and Olive Soule (1808-1828). He was married to Elizabeth Monimia Locke (1830-1918) in August 1849 and was the father of at least four children at the time of his death. He was a shoemaker by trade and resided in Nankin, Wayne county, Michigan.


TRANSCRIPTION

Bealton Station, Va.
December 11, [1863]

Mr. Locke
Dr. Sir,

The Colonel has just put in my hand a letter from you dated August 11th. I am sorry I did not know sooner its import.

I am sorry to inform you that John R. Moore was killed in the Battle of Gettysburg [on] July 2nd 1863. I learn this from several of his company. My son was 2nd Lieut. of his company & is helpless & ruined for life from 7 wounds received at the time Moore was killed.

I can sympathize with his bereaved family & pray that they may be directed to Jesus — the only refuge in trouble.

I am with respect yours truly, — John Seage, Chaplain 4th Michigan Infantry

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TRANSCRIPTION

Headquarters 4th Michigan Infantry
Bealton Station, Va.
March 4, 1864

Mrs. Moore
Madam,

I received your letter dated February 28th yesterday & hasten to answer. Your husband, John  R. Moore, Co. I, 4th Michigan Infantry, was killed at Gettysburg July 2nd 1863. He was missing after the action & his condition was not known for a certainty.

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Pvt. John Ransom Moore

I have since learned by some of his company who have returned — some from Richmond & some from hospitals — that he was killed by a ball passing through his left arm & through his body, coming out under the right arm & died immediately & was buried the night following. One of his company — Lewis N. Enos — assisted to bury him. Of course he was buried as he fell, in his clothes.

My son was 2nd Lieutenant of the company at the time who also fell on the battlefield, riddled by 5 bullets & a bayonet wound.

In his accounts with the government, there is due him for clothing $3.02 & for pay 26.85 & if entitled to bounty $75. A final statement has been sent to the War Department & settlement can be had at any time. There is also a pension due you of 8 dollars per month while you are his widow. There are persons in Detroit & elsewhere who attend to the business of claims & through them you can obtain your due from the War Department.

I hope, Mrs. Moore, God will bless you & that this your bereavement  will induce you to lean on that arm who has been always the staff of the Widow & fatherless. Our aim should be so to live knowing that all our earthly comforts are but transient but the bliss of Heaven is forever.

At the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, I had my right wrist broken & my left shoulder wounded by guerrillas on June 8th. Consequently I could not be present to aid the poor fellows who fell. I had 2 sons there. One will be a poor wreck of humanity as long as he lives. He is fed in his bed by his mother to this day.

Accept my well wishes for your welfare & if I can be of any service to you at any time, you will never “trespass on my time & patience.”

Yours respectfully, — John Seage, Chaplain 4th Michigan