We were now at the front, within 18 miles of a large and well appointed force of the enemy. We were here assigned to the First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Pugh, of the Forty-first Illinois, Fourth Division, Brigadier General Veach, Thirteenth Army Corps, General J. B. McPherson commanding.
November 3 we moved en route for LaGrange, where we arrived with the advance of the army, went into quarters near, and finally in town. Drill and frequent scouts filled up the time until November 28 (Reconnaissance from LaGrange to Lamar, Miss., November 5. Wirsham Creek November 6. Garrison at Waterford, Miss., December 1-31), when the army designed by General Grant for the capture of Vicksburg we moved south, and on the 1st of December passed through Holly Springs and camped near Waterford, at which place we were left as garrison, with the additional duty of guarding the railroad to the Tallahatchie River. Companies B, H, I, G, E and K being placed on the railroad with orders to fortify and protect bridges.
Taken from the Adjutant General’s Report
Henry would not accompany his Regiment to Waterford, Mississippi on December 1. He fell ill sometime in November and died on December 8, 1862 of dysentery in what was then known as the General Hospital in La Grange, Tennessee. Although several buildings in La Grange served as hospitals during the long three years that Union forces occupied the community, Henry’s early death during the occupation most surely put him in the Immanuel Episcopal Church building which served as a hospital during the early days of the war.
I arrived at the village of La Grange, Tennessee late morning the day after Passover and a day before Easter. Two sprays of white lilies graced the double doors of the church, the sanctuary held bouquets of the fragrant flowers and they lined all six of the cathedral windows. The fragrance was exquisite and I shall always remember my visit to this peaceful place when I see an Easter lily. A gracious lady of the church greeted me in the sanctuary and listened with great interest to my 2nd great grandfather’s story, she kept copies of Henry’s military photogragh and Muster Rolls and planned to use them as a historical moment they often include in their Sunday services. Most of their historical journals date from after the Civil War, so Henry’s story might well be one of the earliest they now have in their Church history. In the 1920s, a Church renovation revealed Bible verses and messages to home written by the wounded soldiers on the lower wall of this make shift hospital, to my knowledge no record was kept of these writings.
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I had to search Easter morning for flowers for his grave. It may well be the only time since his death 150 years ago passers by will see a white lily placed upon his grave.
The 103rd Illinois Regiment went on to fight at Vicksburg and ultimately fought under General Sherman on his March to the Sea. The Regiment participated in the Grand Review at Washington on the 25th of May 1865 and mustered out three weeks later on 14 June having been in service two years, eight months and twenty days.
When President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the life of our imperiled nation, these valiant sons of Illinois, together with other heroes, offered their lives with patriotism unsurpassed. With unflinching bravery they fought the bloody battles of the great Civil War for union and liberty. Upon them, therefore, a grateful state bestows the crown of undying affection and the laurel of victory.
When Henry died in December of 1862, he never lived to see his 2nd son who came along on March 28, 1863. Nelson Henry Berg grew up in Illinois and married Jessie Allpin on 18 September, 1884. The couple moved to Wymore, Nebraska in 1885 and raised two children, Lawrence and Pearl (my grandmother). Pearl married Loren Allen Hillhouse in June of 1914.
Lawrence Berg & Pearl (Berg) Hillhouse