This poem was composed by Pvt. John W. Ellsworth (1840-1909) ¹ of Fulton county, Illinois, who served in Co. F, 103rd Illinois Infantry from October 1862 to June 1865. John was the son of Thomas and Eunice (Deremo) Ellsworth, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of Connecticut.
The poem was dedicated to the memory of his good friend and fellow soldier, Francis “Marion” Guthrie (1841-1863), of the same company. Pvt. Guthrie was from Vermont township, Fulton county, Illinois. His enlistment record indicates his place of birth was Bernadotte, Fulton county, Illinois, though the poem states he was born in Ohio. He died, unmarried, of disease at Cairo on 31 January 1863.
Marion was the son of David Guthrie (1796-1870) and his second wife, Sarah (“Sallie”) Parrish (1812-1890) of Pike, Knox county, Ohio.
The Soldier’s Friend
(sung to a common meter tune)
Oh listen friends I’m going to speak
of one that died of late
And now how sad it is to think
Has met a soldier’s fate
In the bloom of life has called away
In the spirit land
And though we miss him here today
Has gone to God’s command
In Ohio State he used to live
then came to Illinois
Soon after that he joined with us
In Uncle Sam’s employ
With us he shared a soldier’s life
for most six months you see
And none no willinger to do
then Marion Guthery [Guthrie]
But now he’s gone, we mourn his loss
But hope it is his gain
We hope he is where no sickness comes
No sorrow, death, and pain
In death’s cold ground, he there must lay
Till Gabriel’s trump shall sound
And raise the nations of the dead
To earth’s remotest bounds
Then may he with the friends he loves
Join hands again in heaven
And to the soldier boys and friends
A starry crown be given
But now the author, he must close
And bid you all goodbye
The readers of these lines he hopes
To meet above the skies.
Composed by John W. Ellsworth of F Co., the 103rd Reg. of Ills. Vol. Infantry on the death of Marion Guthery [Guthrie] of the same.
Riten [written] by W. G. W. [William G. Walters] of F Co., 103rd Regt. Ills.
¹ John W. Ellsworth gave the following biographical information in an interview:
“I was born,” said our subject, “in Jefferson County, NY, Jan 5, 1840, and am the son of Thomas and Eunice (Deremo) Ellsworth, the former a native of Vermont and the latter of Connecticut. My father was a shoemaker and was working at his trade in Mansfield, NY, when I was born. I came with my parents to Fulton County in 1853. We came from NY state by water and rail and landed Rock Island, where we were met by Benjamin C. Johnson and Lorenzo Tainter of Joshua Township, with teams. Benjamin Johnson was the cousin of my father. His old home place was a part of section 32, Joshua Township (where Willis Shoop now lives) and whose wife was Dolly Bayless, a sister of Jake and Joe Bayless. We settled in old Fiatt where I attended school. Elder Shaw, Allen and William Sparks, Miss Stanton and Jame Piersol were some of the early teachers of the old Fiatt school. Elder Shaw, the Rev. John B. Fast, the Rev. Mr. Pigsley and Uncle Peter Christian were some of the pioneer ministers of the Fiatt neighborhood. The Rev. Peter Cartwright, assisted by Uncle Dick Haney, dedicated the old brick Fiatt church (on the corner near Ronnie Tompkin’s home) erected in 1858.
On Aug. 22, 1862, I went to Canton and enlisted in Company F, 103rd Illinois Infantry. The regiment was made up almost entirely of Fulton County boys and made a good record in the war of the rebellion. Our pathway through the Confederacy was one of privation and danger, of sickness and death, but a shattered remnant of the old organization reached home after nearly three years of hardships and dangers. William Vandervender of Canton, Bernard Kelley of Cuba and Jared Vorhees of Farmers were the captains under whom I served.
After the war I married Mrs. Julia (Wheeler) Ashley on Dec. 24, 1865. We have six children. John Ashley, my stepson, Charles N. Ellsworth, both of Canton. Bloomer Ellsworth in the west. The Misses Minnie B. and Stella Ellsworth are at home and Mrs. Ida M. Allton resides on South Main St., Canton.”
The 103rd Illinois regiment fought in the battles of: Missionary Ridge, TN, 25 Nov, 1863; Resaca, GA, 14 May, 1864; Dallas, GA, 27-28 May, 1864; New Hope Church, GA, 15 Jun, 1864; Kenesaw Mountain, GA, 15-27-28 Jun, 1864; Atlanta, 22-28-29 Jul, 1864, and, 04-15-19-23 Aug, 1864; Allatoona, GA, 15 Oct, 1864; Griswoldville, GA, 22 Nov, 1864; Columbia, SC, 15 Feb, 1865, and, Bentonville, NC, 21 Mar, 1865.