Frank H. Irwin, company E, 93d Pennsylvaniadied May I, 65My letter to his mother.DEAR MADAM: No doubt you and Franks friends have heard the sad fact of his death in hospital here, through his uncle, or the lady from Baltimore, who took his things. (I have not seen them, only heard of them visiting Frank.) I will write you a few linesas a casual friend that sat by his death-bed. Your son, corporal Frank H. Irwin, was wounded near fort Fisher, Virginia, March 25th, 1865the wound was in the left knee, pretty bad. He was sent up to Washington, was receivd in ward C, Armory-square hospital, March 28ththe wound became worse, and on the 4th of April the leg was amputated a little above the kneethe operation was performd by Dr. Bliss, one of the best surgeons in the armyhe did the whole operation himselfthere was a good deal of bad matter gatherdthe bullet was found in the knee. For a couple of weeks afterwards he was doing pretty well. I visited and sat by him frequently, as he was fond of having me. The last ten or twelve days of April I saw that his case was critical. He previously had some fever, with cold spells. The last week in April he was much of the time flightybut always mild and gentle. He died first of May. The actual cause of death was pyæmia, (the absorption of the matter in the system instead of its discharge.) Frank, as far as I saw, had everything requisite in surgical treatment, nursing, &c. He had watches much of the time. He was so good and well-behaved and affectionate, I myself liked him very much. I was in the habit of coming in afternoons and sitting by him, and soothing him, and he liked to have meliked to put his arm out and lay his hand on my kneewould keep it so a long while. Toward the last he was more restless and flighty at nightoften fancied himself with his regimentby his talk sometimes seemd as if his feelings were hurt by being blamed by his officers for something he was entirely innocent ofsaid, I never in my life was thought capable of such a thing, and never was. At other times he would fancy himself talking as it seemd to children or such like, his relatives I suppose, and giving them good advice; would talk to them a long while. All the time he was out of his head not one single bad word or idea escaped him. It was remarkd that many a mans conversation in his senses was not half as good as Franks delirium. He seemd quite willing to diehe had become very weak and had sufferd a good deal, and was perfectly resignd, poor boy. I do not know his past life, but I feel as if it must have been good. At any rate what I saw of him here, under the most trying circumstances, with a painful wound, and among strangers, I can say that he behaved so brave, so composed, and so sweet and affectionate, it could not be surpassd. And now like many other noble and good men, after serving his country as a soldier, he has yielded up his young life at the very outset in her service. Such things are gloomyyet there is a text, God doeth all things wellthe meaning of which, after due time, appears to the soul.
I thought perhaps a few words, though from a stranger, about your son, from one who was with him at the last, might be worth whilefor I loved the young man, though I but saw him immediately to lose him. I am merely a friend visiting the hospitals occasionally to cheer the wounded and sick.