Highland News Leader

A Thought to Remember: Highland Civil War solider, German rebel became friends in a military hospital

On Oct. 23, 1864, Maurice Marcoot, a member of the 15th Missouri Infantry Regiment, became quite ill with rheumatic fever, Marcoot writes in his book, Five Years in the Sunny South.

He was still worse on the 25th, and by the 30th, he couldn’t even walk. He was put into an ambulance wagon, then aboard a train at Lee & Gordon’s Mill and taken to a hospital in Chattanooga, Tenn. Marcoot was better in November, but the doctor needed someone to be a German interpreter, as some of the rebel soldiers that were being brought in were recent German recruits.

Marcoot wasn’t able to return to his 15th Missouri and was reassigned as a ward master in a tent, and eight German rebels were assigned to his ward, or tent. Marcoot became greatly attached to these injured rebels, especially H.M. Meadors Company A of the 34th Alabama. Meadors had completely lost a leg in the Atlanta battle and was in Marcoot’s ward the longest. They were both very young and became close friends, as Marcoot nursed him back to health.

Two more months went by, and early in 1865, Meadows was removed to the military prison. They had agreed to write to each other after this cruel war was over. Each wrote, but Meadors did not return to his address, and Marcoot was still in service in Texas until 1866, so their letters were returned.

Twenty-two years later, Meadors wrote the postmaster of Highland in hopes of finding a relative to whom he could write, reguarding his old friend, “Dutchey,” as they had called Marcoot. By that time, he was well known in Highland, as he had a tavern.

Marcoot immediately wrote to him at his new address, with many letters following in the next two months, and by midwinter, Meadors traveled more than 600 miles to greet and personally thank Marcoot.

The Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) had been established in Highland and Marcoot was the commander. Marcoot’s relatives, friends and the GAR were at the depot in Highland, with Marcoot, to greet his rebel German buddy. The GAR even made Meadors an honorable member in 1886, and Marcoot had the pleasure of visiting Meadors the following year, in October 1887, where Meadors was the Circuit Clerk of Chambers County, Alabama.

Now back to the 117th Illinois.

“By Dec. 7, 1864, we were on the outskirts of Nashville, Tenn., and were trenched in from river to river. We now had a new commander, Gen. Kenner Garrard, and were a part of the Army of Tennessee. By 6 a.m. on Dec. 16, we charged up Compton’s Hill, with our artillery doing its job.

“Confederate Col. William Shy died while leading the defense of the hill, and we captured four pieces of artillery and about 300 men.

“Gen. James H. Wilson, who has been an instructor at McKendree College in Lebanon, took his two divisions of cavalry, out-flanked the enemy on their left and attacked the remnants of Shy’s division from the rear. The rebels were completely routed.

“Our regiment’s loss was two killed, Pvt. Henry Wilder of Company G. on Dec. 25, 1864, had his left arm shot off and died on Jan. 15, 1865 from the effects of his wounds. The same shell also killed Thomas Whalen of Alton of Company B. Four were wounded, including Pvt. John Grunterman, who was wounded at Nashville. This Compton’s Hill was later renamed Shy’s Hill.

“We kept heading east through Granny White Pike and Franklin Pike in pursuit of Confederate Gen. Hood. Hood keeps just out of our reach, but the cavalry are continually taking prisoners and artillery. (Page 93)

“Pvt. Andrew J.W. Hayes died at Jefferson Barracks, Mo.. on Nov. 6, 1864. (He is buried at Anderson Cemetery in rural St. Jacob. His stone had fallen and broke in half but has now been cleaned, repaired and reset.)

“Pvt. W.G. Reaves was killed.

Sgt. John D. Thornburg of Greencastle (Alhambra) was discharged on Nov. 19, 1864 for disability, and Cpl. Jasper Hobbs of Trenton, died at Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 3, 1864.

“Sgt. Martin Schneider of the 43rd Illinois was killed at the battle of Shiloh.

“Pvt. Eli Watt of St. Jacob died Jan. 8, 1865 and was buried at home.

“Calvin Johnson Wiest (Mrs. Mark Shepard’s brother) was given a medical discharge. He was put onto a train, where he died. He was then returned home for burial in Marine Cemetery.”

(Quotes from Marcoot’s Five Years in the Sunny South, Edwin Gerling’s 117th Illinois Infantry Volunteers, 1862-1865 and my files.)