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They Turned Them Out To Die Like A Mule  
By:  John N. Henry, Edited by:  John Michael Priest


The Civil War Letters of John N. Henry.  September 1861 - June 1865. Forty-ninth New York Infantry and hospital steward in various VI Corps hospitals in northern Virginia.
Hard Cover, 471 pages. Pictures.



   Turn Then Out To Die Like a Mule is a story of the quiet courage of thousands of men who were caught up in the war that united our country.





"Eighteen years ago I left home for the Randolph Circuit to serve as a traveling preacher. I was then but a youth. My hopes were bright and I expected to spend my days in the active ministry. But, alas, alas, one misstep after another and I am found nothing but a poor soldier in Army of the Potomac. I maintain a sort of equivocal connection with the church as a social preacher yet my past life and present position should be very different from what it is. My general health is failing and my day of usefulness and improvement is nearly passed. My hair is turning gray and I am growing old. I have not seen my family for nearly two years and have but faint hope of ever seeing them again. The practice here in the army is to drag men along when they are of any use and then turn them out to die like a mule."

John N Henry
Hospital Steward
49th New York Volunteers August 11, 1863

  John N. Henry left his family of six to enlist in the 49th New York with the hopes of providing his wife and children with a living much better than they had known before. Desiring a promotion to a lieutenancy, he hoped that his family's life of poverty would become faded memories to which they would never return. Two years later he lamented in his diary, "I am found nothing but a poor soldier in [the] Army of the Potomac."
This is his story as related through his frequent letters home and his diary about life as an enlisted man who served in the ranks under arms and as a nurse turned hospital steward. As a nurse, Henry's life centered around the people whose lives the war directly impacted. His letters and diary are filled with unforgettable human interest stories: a soldier who dies in his younger brother's arms from overexposure to the elements; an enlisted man who commits suicide because of his wife's adulterous relationship back home; an officer who may not go home to attend the funeral of his only child. Henry documented in painstaking detail the army's inconsistent furlough policy and erratic pay schedule while constantly worrying about his family's physical and spiritual well being.

The Author

  John Michael Priest is the author of Antietam: The Soldier's Battle, editor-in-chief of From New Bern to Fredericksburg: Captain James Wren's Civil War Diary, and Before Antietam: The Battle For South Mountain.




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