The price of war: A letter from Mary Kelly to Sarah Gordon, 1862

Mary Kelly to Sallie L. Gordon, March 31, 1862 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)James Kelly served with the 14th Indiana Volunteers beginning in 1861. In March 1862, his wife, Mary, traveled to the field hospital in Virginia where he lay wounded after the Battle of Winchester. She described the terrible conditions: "The wounded are dying every day. This is a three story building and very large at that and every room is full its very sad times indeed." Despite Mary’s care, James Kelly died of his wounds, May 8, 1862.

A full transcript is available.


Mr Kelly is wounded in the lower part of the abdomen injuring his bowels in some way a very serious wound indeed I still hope he may be one of the exceptions in this case If we remain here there wont be any Dr left thats any account for all the surgeons expect every day to be ordered on to their regiments about 20 miles from here So if we can go The Kelly family: Mary and James with their daughter and son, taken before the wwe had better. Mr Slocum is going tomorrow he has his thigh broken but seems in good spirits I think he will soon get well the ladies here have been very kind to our men though there are plenty of sesech here of the meanest kind