"A. H. Leach, Co B 1 Reg Vt. Vol., Chickamauga, July 6, 1898, Ga"
is the inscription inside the front cover.
A.H. noted that he was mustered in to service on May 16, 1898 and arrived in Chickamauga on May 23rd.
There are less than six pages filled with his notes. I didn't take the time to read them that night, but did look at the last page.
The final entry on July 18, 1898: "...Still sick sick all night..."
I remember remarking casually 'I wonder if he died?'
After arriving home, I read through all the pages.
He mentioned receiving letters, sending money and pictures home, guarding prisoners...
Tucked in a pocket in the notebook I found railroad receipts for a package that he sent to Sheldon, Vt on July 4th. I can't quite make out his diary entry for that date.
Recently I googled the name A.H. Leach and found a Vermont cemetery record: "Leach, Adelbert H...25 July 1898 at Chickamauga Battlefield..." The cause of death wasn't noted so I dug a bit more. (Last year, CG and I visited the Chickamauga National Military Park. It's a sobering yet beautiful area, best known for it's role in the Civil War. What I didn't remember was that it played a part in the Spanish-American war as well.)
Here's what I found:
"Thirty years after the war, a camp was established on the old battlefield to train men for the Spanish-American War. The camp was named after Thomas, the “Rock of Chickamauga”. During the brief time the camp was in operation, disease ran rampant here and men died by the score.... ending with more deaths than the American forces suffered during all of the fighting in Cuba" http://www.prairieghosts.com/chick.html
I then discovered a heart-breaking account of the conditions that A.H. Leach and his comrades endured at Chickamauga. "...The First Vermont Volunteers did not see battle but did experience indescribable misery through the Nation's neglect. I am certain the Regiment would have preferred, yes, welcomed, battle to the suffering, heat, poor water, typhoid fever, dysentery, disgusting food and lack of medical equipment at Chickamauga. Vivid, undimmed by the years, is my memory of the suffering of the sick, their courageious fights to live, and the despair of those trying to aid them. All honor to them....who went stoically about their duties, half sick, through that terrible experience. Soldiers true, all of them..." You can read much more of this account from Vermont in the Spanish American War by clicking here.
Later in the same text, I found this:
"Pvt. Adelbert H. Leach,. Co. B. Fairfield
Died July 25, 1898, at Division Hospital, Camp Thomas, Ga., of typhoid fever...Age 21."
As we celebrate Memorial Day, one of the soldiers I'll be thinking of is a young man I've just 'met' and giving thanks for all who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom.