Thursday, May 24, 2012
Sergeant William Shakespeare 2nd. Michigan Infantry.
FIRST SERGEANT WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, COMPANY K, SECOND MICHIGAN, INFANTRY.
AT THE AGE OF TWENTY.
He enlisted April 12, 1S61, at the age of seventeen, was assigned to the Color Guard as Color Corporal March 18, 1862, was promoted Sergeant in his company May 27, 1862, and First Sergeant March 1, 1863. Was severely wounded at Jackson, Miss., July 11, 1863. Honorably discharged on surgeon's certificate of disability, after having participated with his regiment in seventeen hard fought battles from Blackburn's Ford and Bull Run to Vicksburg.
The above portrait, although a reproduction from an old and faded photo of 1862, still shows the great intelligence and determined will power of this brave young soldier, that on occasions amounted to such an obstinate and determined spirit, that no amount of suffering could subdue, as the following incident will show. In the gallant charge of his regiment at Jackson, Miss., July 11, 1883, he was wounded through both legs near the hips, having both thighs fractured; while lying there on the battlefield, with these painful wounds, he had several more bullets fired into his body. When carried off the battlefield to the field hospital, and a consultation over his case was held by our surgeons, it was concluded by them that his wounds were mortal and his case hopeless. Our surgeon, Dr. Henry Clelland of Detroit then said to him: "I don't want to alarm you unnecessarily, but you have only a few hours to live, still you may live a few days, but I can't give you any encouragement." He feebly responded that he thought it was not so bad. A short time afterwards the surgeon came to him with a letter, saying to him that he had "written to his mother of his unfortunate condition; was there any final message to add." He insisted on seeing that letter. Finally the surgeon read it to him. Said he, "Doctor, I want to add a few words to it." "Why," said the surgeon, "do you think you can write?" "Why, yes, I think I can scrawl out a few words if you will prop me up," and they complied with his request. After propping him up he added to that letter these words: "Do not be alarmed, dear mother, the doctor is mistaken. I am going to get well and come back to you." Some time after he was brought up to the general hospital at Cincinnati, Ohio, where he lay for nine long months on his back in an agony of suffering, unable to stir from one side to the other, and during all that time the doctors were in doubt about his final recovery. Rut the obstinate determination not to die but to come back to that dear mother pulled him through to final recovery.