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“The body of your son cannot be moved until cold weather sets in…”
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EDWARD SCHWARTZ. Autograph Letter Signed, to “Mr. Tilty.” September 10, 1863, 8 x 10 in. rag paper, 1 p.

Inventory #21265.04       Price: $75

Complete Transcript

                                                                        Camp 4th New York Cavalry

                                                                        Sept 10th 1863

Mr. Tilty

Dear Sir

            Yours of the 4th reached me yesterday. The body of your son cannot be moved until cold weather sets in so the has informed me if you will come here then. I will send Mr Johnson with you to the spot where the body of your son lies enclosed you will find fifty dollars $50 00 doctor’s certificate, and discriptive list. I burnt all his clothing excepting the suit he had on him when buried You will please acknowledge the receipt of this as soon as possible

                                                                        Your most respectfully,

                                                                        Cap. E. Schwartz

                                                                        Co. E. 4th New York Cavalry

                                                                        1st Division 2d Brigade, Cavalry Corps

Army of the Potomac

Historical Background

The 4th New York Cavalry mustered into service in November 1861. Most of the members were from New York City, including two companies of Germans. After initial service near Washington, the regiment transferred to western Virginia but returned to the Shenandoah Valley in pursuit of General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s army in the summer. It spent the winter of 1862-1863 near Stafford Court House, Virginia, and with the organization of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac, the 4th New York joined the Second Brigade, First Division. It participated in the Chancellorsville and Gettysburg campaigns in mid-1863 and in dozens of smaller battles throughout Virginia.

For Americans on both sides, the thought of losing a father, husband, or son in the Civil War was horrifying. More terrible still was that he would die alone or remain unburied. Even those who learned, as this father did, that their son had died in a hospital and been buried, wanted to bring the body home for burial with family members or in a family cemetery. A difficult and expensive process under the best of circumstances, moving partially decomposed bodies, often hastily buried, during warm weather invited oppressive smells and even the spread of disease.

The “Mr. Johnson” to whom Schwartz refers may have been Sergeant Stephen Johnson of Company E, who was in his 40s.

Edward Schwartz (1842-1904) was born in New York City and served from April to August, 1861 in the New York militia. He enlisted as a private in Company D of the 4th New York Cavalry in January 1862. After a bout with typhoid fever, he transferred to Company F as a 2nd Lieutenant in April 1862. Promoted to Captain of Company E in September 1863, he became a Major in March 1864. In February 1865, the 4th was consolidated into the 9th New York Cavalry, and Schwartz mustered out with the regiment in July 1865. After the war he moved to New Mexico, where he married Angeline Flint in Santa Fe in 1880. Schwartz later moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he was an engraver. He served as city recorder for Phoenix in the 1890s and was adjutant general of the territorial militia.

John Tilley/Tilty (1837-1863) enlisted as a private in Company E in the 4th New York Cavalry in New York. He died of disease on August 23, 1863, in a hospital near Warrenton Junction, Virginia.

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