1863: Sarah J. Nunemaker to Emily Ryner

This letter was written by 14 year-old Sarah J. Nunemaker, the daughter of Solomon Nunemaker (1823-1886) and Ann Gibson (1816-Aft1880) of Irishtown, Findley township, Mercer county, Pennsylvania. We learn from Sarah’s letter that she was at Harewood Hospital outside Washington D. C. taking care of her brother. Sarah had two older brothers who served in Co. G, 10th Pennsylvania Reserves Infantry (39th Volunteers). One brother, Joseph H. Nunemaker (1844-1862), was killed in the fighting at South Mountain on 14 September 1862. The other brother, James G. Nunamaker (1842-1923), participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 and was most likely wounded in that engagement. He survived his wounds and was later transferred to the 191st Pennsylvania.

Sarah wrote the letter to Emily Ryner, the aunt and adopted mother of Alfred McClay of Co. E, 114th Pennsylvania (Collis’ Zouaves) who received a gunshot wound to the right thorax during the Battle of Fredericksburg that proved fatal. Alfred died at Harewood Hospital in Washington D. C. on 24 January 1863.

Sarah’s letter informs us that Alfred’s wound began to bleed and resulted in surgery to remove a rib that hastened his death.

[Note: The cased image in the header is NOT a photograph of Sarah.]


[Harewood Hospital, District of Columbia]
[January 24, 1863]
Mrs. Emily Ryner,

I take my pen to write your the painful news that your nephew is very low. He was doing first rate until last night when he took to bleeding from his wounds and the doctor operated on him today, They took one of his ribs from his side and in all probability he will not be living when you receive these few lines. He [Alfred] thinks he is going to die. He told me a few minutes ago if he could only see his friends, he could die contented.

From Sarah J. Nenamaha

My home is Irishtown, Mercer Co., Penna. here taking care of my brother.

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