KANSAS COLLECTION BOOKS
Memorial of Edward C. D. Lines: Letters



17



LETTER FROM GEN. MITCHELL.

EXTRACT FROM A LETTER
WRITTEN BY GEN. ROBT. B MITCHELL,
TO THE FATHER OF CAPTAIN LINES, JUNE 11, 1864.


     UPON the organization of the Second Kansas Regiment in May, 1861, under my command, I found your son, an officer, in one of the companies.

     The conviction formed from the slight acquaintance I had with him prior to his entrance into service, that he would demonstrate the possession of peculiar abilities as an officer, induced me to observe him carefully in the discharge of his official duties.

     I found him apt to learn the minutiae of such duty, prompt and correct in its application, and while rigid in the requirement of the performance of every duty by the men under his command, yet, by his kindness and care for them, the respect enforced by his position and commands, was accompanied by a deep, earnest and  soldierly affection on the part of the men of his company. In his associations with his brother officers, his high-toned bearing and conversation, his geniality of manner, his knowledge of his new profession, his correct and conscientious performance of duty, and his considerate regard for the feelings of others, under the most irritating of circumstances, made him universally loved, admired and respected.


18


     Upon the long and weary march in Missouri, immediately following the muster into service of the regiment, when those young troop--almost entirely unsupplied with the essentials to a soldier's comfort, and when inexperience made such lack more difficult to be borne--executed marches and endured privations almost unequalled before or since by veteran soldiers, his cheering voice was constantly heard encouraging the weary, his hand was extended to help the wayside fallen, and despite his delicate frame, by the strong purpose consequent upon his conviction of the necessity for the sake of others of remaining at his post, he bore up against all hardship, and in the most gloomy periods, when fatigue, exhaustion, lack of food and of sleep, tended to dispirit all, he, supported by a conviction of duty to be done, and by the dictates of that kindness that induced so large a forgetfulness of self, unmindful of his own safety, his health, or his comfort, devoted himself to the task of restoring confidence and strength to the weary and disabled for new exertions; all this was done by him without orders or direction, and while he was unaware that his conduct was the subject of observation or commendation by his superior officer; who recognized the great and faithful services rendered by him at the time.

     In the affairs at Forsyth and Dug Springs, his conduct was marked by distinguished gallantry. The illness of my Adjutant, Lieut. Thompson, enforced his absence from duty, and Lieut. Lines was detailed to perform the duties of Adjutant, in his stead.

     Lieut. Lines brought to the performance of the multifarious,


19


constant and arduous duties of the position of Adjutant, the same urbanity and conscientiousness in the discharge of duty, that had characterized him as a company officer, together with an amount of administrative ability that won from all the warmest encomiums.

     In this position, the relation he bore to me was of an exceedingly confidential nature, and the ease with which he comprehended all plans, issued the necessary orders for their execution, and superintended the details of such execution, the aptness of his suggestions and his undirected action, all demonstrated to me the possession of talent of an unusually high order and induced me to regard him rather as a friend and adviser, than as a junior officer.

     Upon the field at Wilson's Creek, where the long, weary campaign of 1861 culminated in that heroic struggle of the lamented Lyon, against an enemy five times the number of his little band, the gallantry and efficiency of your son were particularly conspicuous, and did much to inspire the regiment with the spirit that enabled them to withstand and beat back the successive charges of an enemy so much exceeding them in number. From the nature of the duties attendant upon his position as Adjutant, he was very much exposed to the enemy's fire; but he rode unscathed and erect wherever his presence could be of service, his clarion voice shouting words of encouragement or direction, or when the stern duties of the day permitted, speaking words of solace and comfort to the stricken among the brave men upon that field he will ever be remembered by those who saw him as among the first and bravest.


20


     I was left wounded at Springfield, Mo., subsequent to that engagement, while the regiment proceeded to Fort Leavenworth, having an engagement with the rebels at Shelbina, Mo., while en route.

     In the labors consequent upon the muster-out of the regiment at Fort Leavenworth, 1862, prior to its re-organization, the knowledge of the practice of the army, and its routine of official transactions and papers, which Lieut. Lines acquired with great facility and applied with great exactness, tended much to expedite the formation of the new organization.

     During the winter of 1861-2, I was in almost constant, daily intercourse with him in Washington, and the affection and respect that his conduct in the field had won, was strengthened by new developments of his possession of great social charms, eminent purity and honesty of character, and a quickness of perception and depth of understanding, that made his facile conversation and geniality of manner doubly attractive.

     Upon assuming command of a Brigade, I detailed him upon my personal staff as an Aide-de-Camp, in which capacity he was with me from May, 1862, until October, of the same year. With my command he proceeded from Fort Riley, Kansas, to Corinth, Mississippi, thence to join the army of Maj. Gen. Buell, at Nashville, Tennessee. He was with me in the Kentucky campaign in the summer of 1862, and participated in the engagement at Perryville, and at Lancaster, Kentucky, in that campaign.

     During this period, I had frequent occasion to call upon him for the performance of duties of danger and importance, and I


21


was always well assured that if knowledge of his profession, energy, endurance and conscientiousness could accomplish the task set before him, it would be done.

     At the conclusion of the Kentucky campaign in October, 1862, Lieut. Lines returned with me to Kansas, and there yielding to the solicitations of his friends and his own conviction, that he could be of greater service with his regiment,--then I think in Arkansas,--he returned to duty with it.

     I urged him also to take this step, despite my disinclination to lose so valuable an officer, so honorable a gentleman, and so true a friend, from my staff, because I believed that in the line of his regiment, he could more readily obtain that promotion that his long, valuable and faithful services and his eminent fitness for high rank demanded, than he could in the staff corps. Justice to him, the service, the cause, and the country, demanded this personal sacrifice at my hands.

     His new field of duty being widely separated from my own, I heard but seldom from him, but always that his career was marked with those honorable and soldierly qualities that had always been attendant upon his actions.

     One letter informed me of his promotion, and the commencement, as I believed and hoped, of a series of rewards, in more and more advanced grades of rank; and the next that I received bringing any news of his regiment, told the sad story that he had fallen.

     The intelligence came at the evening of one of the days of the hard fought battle of Chicamauga. With the din of the cannon still ringing in our ears, with the occasional shot that


22


told of the vigilant sentinels' watch of the movements of the enemy, with whom the next day we were again. to struggle, with the groans of the wounded and dying ascending in our hearing, we who had known and served with your son, forgot for a time, the terrible business and incidents of the day, and were called upon to join with our sorrow for those who had that day fallen by our side, tears for the memory of our friend, our comrade, our brother officer, who had met a soldier's fate on a far distant field.

     Tired, weary and worn, with the dust of battle still on our faces, those who had known "Ed Lines" sorrowed for his untimely death, and recalled with melancholy pleasure the many instances of courage, gentleness and kindness, with which association with him was so fraught.

     But he is gone; you have lost a good and affectionate son, the cause has lost an able and a brave soldier, the country a patriot, and we, his associates, have lost a true and well tried friend.

     May we not hope that the story of his upright life and glorious death, told by some appreciative and able tongue, will furnish a bright exemplar to which you, the father of so good, so noble, so pure a son, may see other fathers pointing offspring as a model for a true and perfect life.

     With assurances of my condolence in your great bereavement, I am very truly, Your obedient servant, ROBT. B. MITCHELL, Brig. General.



Return to Memorial     Appendix