of Cecil County, Maryland
Through the generosity of Maxwell (Jim) Salisbury and his wife Dorothy, I have received photocopies of a number of letters written by James Touchstone about the time of the Civil War. Most of these letters are addressed to his wife and children.
James Touchstone developed very passionate political views during the Civil War (he was a strong supporter of George B. McClellan against Abraham Lincoln in the November 1864 Presidential election) and he wrote on several occasions about these views. All of these letters provide a fascinating window into the lives and times of our ancestors and add a very personal dimension to our understanding of them.
The text of official military correspondence regarding the “cow incident” and a history of the Sixth Maryland Vounteer Infantry may be accessed by selecting the appropriate links below.
(Excerpts from United States Military Pension Records)
Camp of 6th Md. Vols.
2nd Brig 3rd Div. 6th Army Corps
April 14th 1864
Lt. Col M T McMahone
Ast Adjt Genl 6th A. C.
I most respectfully tender my resignation as 1st Lieut. and Regimental Quartermaster of 6th Maryland Volunteer Infantry, and offer the following reasons for the same.
I entered the service when our regiment was organized, about twenty (20) months ago, leaving my business (Blacksmithing) and a large and helpless family without any time or person to settle up my affairs. Since that time, I have not collected a dollar of my outstanding accounts. I shall lose much by their going out of date, and much more if they are longer neglected.
My wife, always delicate, has become entirely unable to perform the arduous duties devolving upon her, and the consequences is, my domestic interests, which are near and dear to me, are seriously impaired, and must inevitably be ruined unless I can get home. I am a poor man – a working man; and the greatest ambition I now have, is to go back to my anvil, and there make bread for my wife and children.
My constitution, naturally weak, has been much impaired in the service, and I fear another campaign will so disable me that I shall be of but little service to myself or family in the future. These statements are faithful and true, and your appreciation of them, will, I have no doubt, enable you to excuse me when I say that the contentment of mind which is so essential in the discharge of official duties in the field, is out of the question with me.
I would have tendered my resignation last fall, but was permanently detailed by Genl French early in November to take charge of “corderoying” operations in the 3rd Corps, and kept so employed until about the middle March last, when such work was suspended.
My official business is now complete and returns all forwarded up to the 1st inst.
I believe the public interest as well as my own, will be subserved by the acceptance of my resignation, for I feel conscious of my inability to perform the duties of my position for any length of time.
I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your most obedient Servant,
signed James Touchstone 1st Lt.
& QM 6th Md. Vols.
Affidavit of John W. Horn:
“That he was Colonel of the 6th Regiment Md. Vols. In June 1863 and that James Touchstone was Quarter Master and retreated with his wagons from Berryville, Va when our forces were driven from there about the 1st of the above month. I have no doubt that in that retreat covering as it did from twelve to seventeen days of fatigue and exposure his health was very much injured. If my memory is not at fault, a protractive illness followed which resulted in his resignation. Capt. Touchstone was a very high toned and honorable gentleman and I do not think anything but the greatest necessity would have induced him to have left the service.”
signed John W. Horn
18 Apr 1887
Affidavit of Joseph C. Hill:
“That he was Lieut. Col. Of the 6th Maryland Infy Regt. and knew James Touchstone late 1st Lieut. & Qr Master of said Regt. Qr Master Touchstone’s enfebbled health I have no doubt was caused by the Campaign of 1863. Our Regt. was with Genl. Milroy at Winchester, Va in June 1863. We lost all of our camp equipage and was without tents until December following, being exposed during that time to all kinds of weather without shelter of any kind, and it was the exposure aforesaid and the mental strain caused by his anxiety for the safety of his Wagon Train which led to a protracted illness, necessitating his resignation and subsequently caused his death from consumption.”
signed Joseph C. Hill
War Department records show that James Touchstone was treated at the Officers’ Hospital, Annapolis, Md. from August 4th to October 6th, 1864 and was honorably discharged by S.O #332, Washington, D.C. on October 14th, 1864. An affidavit by his personal physician indicates that he never fully recovered from this illness and died on December 14th, 1872 from pulmonary consumption at the age of 51 years . . .