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Hamilton's Last Thoughts and Words As Recorded by His Aunt Fanny

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Source: Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives.

Copy of his card over his bed

Hospital number 2395


Ellis Hamilton - age 20 - Camden, New Jersey


Capt. Co. F 15 Regt.


Admitted May 13th 1864 from the field


Diagnosis Gun Shot wound, ball entering apex of left buttocks making its exit at upper third of right thigh - wounded at the Wilderness, May 6th, 1864.


When asked if he had any message for his family after being told he could not live he said: Tell them I am happy. Lord be merciful to me a sinner." He asked the Chaplain to read the Bible, read "The Lord is my Shepherd" and also "Ask and it shall be given" Ellis: I feel that is true in my case "Straight is the gate and narrow the way and few there be that find it. Chaplain: "You may find it Capt." Ans: " I hope so Chaplain again read the Parable of the wise man who build his house upon a rock, he said to Ellis don't you feel that is your case Capt. Ans: "Yes sir."


"Seek the Lord while he may be found" Ellis: I don't know what I would do without these words, "if it was not for Jesus Christ who died to save sinners, what would I do." Complained of a great weight upon his chest and asked for some water.


Read - But he was wounded for our transgressions (Isaiah) after asking for and getting drink he asked for more reading of the bible. Chaplain read "These things have I spoken unto you" John 14, Ellis said "emphatically Thank God."


Chap next read Let -not- your heart be troubled. I go to prepare a place for you at which he said "Thank God."


John asked him if he felt any consolation in the reading of the Bible, he said "Oh yes." Read that last part over again, after it was read he said, " I could die now without so much pain. That is so consoling" The Chap said, "but you must suffer." "Oh yes, I will" When I went in and walked to his bedside he look at me and said Aunt Fannie I am happy for "I love Jesus," I said Ok Ellis I am so glad to hear that, I can part with you so much easier now I know that. I said Ellis I thought you were getting along so nicely you would soon be well, he replied, "So did I, but I have lost too much blood" Soon after he said "Lord help me now on my dying bed. "He asked if his mother had not come yet." I whispered to John he may last until Harrietta comes. I am happy going right to Heaven. He next repeated after lying with closed eyes a few moments. In my Joshua's house are many mansions, I go to prepare a place for you. Do you think he has prepared a place for me? "Yes," said the Chaplain, "Keep up your faith." "Oh yes I do" Again he said "Earth is a pilgrimage. Heaven is my home. In my Father's house are many mansions. Earth is a desert dream. Heaven is my home." The Chaplain said "Capt where you are going you will have no more pain, no more work. He said Ellis "The soldiers retreat." Presently he asked very earnestly "when will I die?" Ans:"When the master willest" Ellis said Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Jesus can make a dying bed as soft as downy pillows are "Oh Lord please make my dying bed as soft as downy pillars are?" Oh Lord "I pray you will take these pains from this dying bed" On being asked if he knew us he said "Oh yes ‘its Aunt Fannie and Uncle John – on being told he now stood on Jordan's banks, he said good bye. Chap repeated a hymn commencing with those words and asked him if he knew them he said, No he had never heard the hymn before - - opened his eyes and repeated again, " In my Father's house are many mansions, I go to prepare a —and Oh Lord make my bed as soft as downy pillows are."


11/40 Then In my Father's house are many mansions I go to prepare a place for you It is so nice Aunt Fannie to have you here. Now I lay me — ease my couch, oh Lord, for it pains me so. When asked about his pain he said he was only in one spot- his left thigh - presently he turned to me and said the Lord has answered my prayer Aunt F. I feel easier now.

While seeming to doze, he said veterans, stop swearing and repent of your sins, you can easily do it — if you will be sorry for them.


Soon after he said give me a drink of good water, before I go – and then "Good bye" These were his last words — Died ¼ before one calmly and with but one struggle, laying his arms deliberately —down by his sides and soon after crossing them on his breast; passed away leaving us the sad remembrance of his calm, resigned, and I trust eternally happy soul---


  1. These are the observations that Ellis Hamilton's Aunt Fanny wrote three days before he died. Compare and contrast this letter with that one written by Ellis Hamilton the same day, May 13, 1864.
  2. How do you account for the different descriptions of Ellis' last moments?
  3. What was the relationship between Ellis Hamilton, representative of the common people, and those in political and military power?
  4. How did the Hamilton family contribute to the larger picture of American development?
  5. How did the decisions made by the influential elites affect Ellis Hamilton's life?
  6. What influential elites are influencing your life? Are they positive or negative? Explain why.