Sergeant Robert Lynch
Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry
Robert Lynch was one of the senior members of the Fifth Iowa Volunteer Infantry when he enlisted in Company C at the age of forty-three. Born in Ireland, he was a resident of Burlington, Iowa when he enlisted on July 1, 1861. (Ironically, the letter quoted below reveals that he lied about his age at the time of his enlistment.)
At the Battle of Iuka, he was "wounded in the leg severely on September 19, 1862. On March 22, 1863 he was promoted to Fifth Sergeant of the company. Two months later, on May 14, 1863 he was once again wounded in the leg, and taken prisoner by the enemy at Jackson, Mississippi. He must have returned quickly to the regiment, since he was promoted to Fourth Sergeant on May 30, 1863. His final promotion was to Third Sergeant, in September of that year. He mustered out with the regiment in August of 1864, content to return home after three years of faithful service.
March of 1864 found him at Lawson Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri. There he wrote a letter to his comrade, Corporal William Codling. Here are some excerpts from the delightful correspondence:
Oh friend Willy,
I received your welcome letter of the 4th instent with the photograph and I am happy to hear that you are in good health... Thank the Lord you say you miss my company but son what must you think of my situation little Billy gone all gone an as my old woman said aint a Bird of my breed near me.
Oh man I got out on Patricksday and I got gloriously drunk but they said nothing to me I was in before night some seven or eight soldiers came to the door with me. I was all rite abel to get up stares and go to Bed...
Billy I have had two letters from the regiment dated on the 13th they are still at Huntsville and no sight of them to leaver there they say that (sic) do not want to go home yet as they think Iowa is cold yet the weather where they are is beautifull not here in St. Louis ti would blow the horns offa goat and a hard black frost every night and the dust has the city enveloped in one Emence cloud...
I am happy to hear that you can ride a horse I believe it's the best way for your leg it will bring the muscle into action... I will not stop long hear the major asked me if I would take my Discharge twice since you left says he will give it to me any time. I want it not such as good sign for me he knows my leg will never be any good and I am of the same opinion son but that do not scare this old man I will live as long as I can William... God bless you boy is the most sincere wish of your old companion and fellow soldier.
Billy I am fiftynine some time in last February but I do not know the day indeed I do not son and they have asked me last week about my age all the same answer they get son.
The Fifth Iowa Volunteer Regimental site is indebted to Ronald Harris for the text of the letter quoted above.