This poignant letter pertains to the death of Pvt. Cornelius Tyson (1839-1861) of Co. G, 28th Illinois Infantry who suffered from a “nervous fever” and expired on 24 October 1861 after only two months’ service. Cornelius was the 22 year-old son of Henry Tyson (1806-1887) and Sarah E. Berry (1800-1863) of Rushville, Schuyler county, Illinois.
The letter was penned by Barclay Clayton Gillam (1820-1888) of Rushville who received his education in the common schools of Pennsylvania. After leaving school, he learned the blacksmith trade. At the age of twenty-one he was married to Miss Mary A., daughter of William Beatty, Esq. In the spring of 1844, he moved to the city of Rushville, Ill. Here he established his own blacksmith shop. During the Civil War, he recruited a company of 86 men, was elected its captain, and immediately repaired to the seat of war. After being in the service four months, he was promoted to the rank of major. He was engaged in several battles, among which were Fort Donaldson, Fort Henry, Little Bethel, Shiloh, Hatchie, and others. At the battle of Shiloh he lost a horse and was badly wounded. He resigned his commission and came home in November 1862.
Camp Holt, Kentucky
October 27, 
Mr. Henry Tyson
It becomes my sad duty to communicate to you the news of the death of your son. He departed this life on Thursday evening, October 24th at about 8 o’clock in the evening after a painful illness of about two weeks. His disease was nervous fever.
One of my men ([James M] Mitchell) was in the hospital at the time of his death. He seemed to suffer considerable until a few minutes of his death [illegible] wildly most of the time praying and singing.
We feel his loss and can sympathize with you in his loss. He has been a good soldier. But we all must die and though it seems hard to die so young, yet it is the will of the Supreme ruler of our universe.
I believe I have no more to write. I remain your friend in affliction, — Capt. B. C. Gillam
P. S. He is buried about one mile and a half above Mound City [Illinois]. If you should wish to remove the body, I will render all the assistance possible. There was $4.55 cents paid him the day before he died. He told Lieut. Col. [Louis H.] Waters to send it home. Col. Waters has it in his possession.