• Jake Wynn

A soldier's obituary - Corporal Bently Stark of the 57th Pennsylvania

In the heat of summer on the Virginia Peninsula, Corporal Bently Stark succumbed to the illness that stalked him throughout 1862. The 20-year-old soldier from Susquehanna County was a member of Company A, 57th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. He died at Harrison's Landing on August 3, 1862.

The Army of the Potomac's encampment at Harrison's Landing, Virginia. Corporal Stark died in the regimental hospital of the 57th Pennsylvania near this encampment. Sketch: Harper's Weekly, August 23, 1862


Stark was one of 186,000 US Army soldiers to perish from disease during the Civil War. More than two-thirds of those who died in the conflict did so from illness.


This young Pennsylvania soldier was memorialized by a comrade, Private Lidgar W. Avery, in an obituary written from Harrison's Landing in August 1862. It is a fitting tribute to a brave son of the Keystone State who gave his life to save his country.


From the Wyoming Democrat of Tunkhannock, PA - August 13, 1862:


Died.


Stark – At the Regimental Hospital of the 57th Regiment, P.V., near Harrison’s Landing, Va., on Sunday, August 3rd, BENTLY STARK, son of Seth B. Stark, of Niven, Susquehanna County. Aged about 20 years.


Bently enlisted to serve his Country early in the fall of 1861, joining the Company known as the “Wyoming Rifles,” Capt. P. Sides, and with them left for the seat of war. Soon after reaching Camp Curtin, he succeeded by his upright deportment, in gaining not only the esteem, but the entire confidence of his company; the officers soon noticing in him the true mark of a soldier gave him at once the office of Corporal, the first step to promotion.


To say that he over performed his duty as a soldier, honorably, faithfully, and bravely, is saying nothing more than is justly his due.


His health continued good up to the Battle of Fair Oaks, May 31, but the morning after the battle unmistakable signs of disease were plainly visible, his countenance being very pale and haggard, yet a few days’ rest partially restored him to health. As soon as his strength would permit, he again shouldered his musket and entered the ranks of his company – continuing to perform the most dangerous and arduous duties up to Monday’s fight, near White Oak Swamp.


But the hardships of the Seven Days’ battles were more than his already slender frame could bear. He barely succeeded, by great efforts, in reaching Harrison’s Landing, where he entered the hospital – remaining a few days until he had gained sufficient strength to again join his regiment, where he remained up to his death.

During the last few days he had been sinking gradually and peacefully away. On the morning of his death he was visited by several members of his company; but that sleepy-like stupor had taken possession of his faculties from which nothing could arouse him. Thus he passed away, merely sinking into a quiet, peaceful, sleep, never again to be awakened by the sound of the war bugle, or call to arms.


The relatives of the deceased have the sympathy of the entire company - all feeling that we have lost a kind an obliging friend, and true and noble brother in arms.

L.W. Avery

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