23 July 1864: “The doctors said it was a disease they had never met with before and it baffled all their skill.”

Item description:  Letter dated 23 July 1864, from Jock (William Hunt) to his brother Luke (Andrew Lucas Hunt).  This letter details news of death and illnesses at camp, activities at “Soldiers Rest,” a depot for wounded soldiers in Chicago, and family news.  Andrew Lucas Hunt (1843-1905) of Chicago, Ill., was an officer with the 134th Illinois Regiment, United States Army, during the Civil War.18640723_01 18640723_02Item citation: Letter dated 23 July 1864, in the Andrew Lucas Hunt Papers, #3225, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Chicago Saturday July 23/64
(In the Cashiers Desk)
Dear Brother Luke
Although this letter will not go till tomorrow I thought as I had a few spare minutes I would write you.  I am very sorry to have to tell you of the death of Mj David Mather.  He died last night about half past one after being sick for about a week + a half.  They had five or six doctors to see him,  It was a disease entirely unknown to them.  Father + Mother were called in there about eleven o’clock and staid there till he died.  The doctor showed father his side + leg and the were all covered with crimson spots about an inch in diameter and raised about the length of your finger nail from the skin  The doctors said it was a disease they had never met with before and it baffled all their skill.
I have been out rowing on the Baisin all this three or four times this week with Johnie Chapin last night we went out a great deal fa[r]ther than the light house  This evening I am going in swiming.  I have been in several times this year, but for the last week or two it has been too cold.  I suppose you have heard of the great drouth we have been having here.  There had been no rain for a long time.  But in the early part of this week it Rained almost incessantly.  It began to rain first on Saturday night.  Sunday morning about five o’clock it Rained so hard we could scarcely see across the road.  It washed all the streets as clean as could be.  It also rained a great deal on Monday and Tuesday.  All the time the wind blew very hard from the south north. 
I heard the other day that you had a full beard + mustach.  I think you had better let them grow especially your mustach.  When you get home you can confer with mother about letting them grow.  Mr. Loethwork brought up the things to us two days befor yesterday.  Mother went up to see Alfred Colburn the day after.  He was very much pleased to see her.  I went up yesterday and took up some cake and Black Currant Jam.  I had a very pleasant time with him.  I forgot to say Amy + Ettie went up with him me.  We talked about the boys, and he said you were with their Company much more than your own.  We talked about Harry Hubbard and he was very sorry to hear that he was not expected to live from one day to another, certainly not till you get home.  In the room where he (Colburn) lay were three others.  One had the diarreha and had not got from his bed for over a year.  Another had the consumption.  And another was very weak, could hardly stir.
Last night after I had a boat ride I went down to the Soldiers Rest for I heard there was a regiment coming in and I saw a wounded soldier having his wound dressed.  A ball had gone into his left shoulder and come out his elbow.  It was a very bad wound indeed.  I suppose you have heard that Ettie has had the measles.  This will make the second time she has had them.  Dr. Davis said it was very seldom a person had them twice.  She is entirely over them it now.  You have never said anything in your letter about being carried on a plank to Co. E’s quarters to dinner on the “Fourth”?  Were you not at the general dinner?
The next time you go out on a foraging expedition take Tom Burton along with you.  I think ou will find him a good man in case of any trouble.  I heard he had a position is this true?  I believe Co. A + B. Chi. Ligh Artillery are coming home today or tomorrow.
Your brother
P.S.  Answer all my letter as soon as possible
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