On the back of the stone is the inscription:
Memorial Day, 2015
This project has been an extraordinary journey. When Mike began it, and I joined him, the trove of sixty letters transcribed and donated by Robert Schaefer was plentiful detail for understanding life in the Union Army. Yet so much more filled in along the way, through Mike's persistent research and the National Archives records provided by Claire Kluskens. We learned that Henry was a keen observer of the events he saw, and that the 5'6" sandy-haired teenager with hazel eyes enlisted early and carried the regimental colors.
We are especially grateful for your support of the Milton Historical Society, and that you came along on this journey. We'd be very interested to know how the experience was for you; drop us a reply to this email when you feel the inspiration.
There is more to read. Though this is our closing email, Henry's records from the National Archives are now published on the Milton Historical Society's website, indexed chronologically with his letters. In particular, fifty pages of his pension file — letters and documents from Henry himself, his friends, and his family — fill in forty more years of Henry's story, more than anyone knew or imagined when we started emailing his letters.
That forty-year epilogue is best captured in this letter from his wife Caroline. If you have become as fond of Henry as Mike and I have, it is not easy reading. Its preservation shows how important our National Archives are to understanding our history and our present. Caroline's letter reminds us — especially important on our national Memorial Day — that no soldier returns intact from war. As families, we prefer to forget this, but as historians and neighbors, we are obliged to know this.
Thank you, again, for coming along.
Mike Doyle, MHS Historian