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Brooks' Patent Writing Case- probable id to 3rd VT KIA
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I turned up this case a few years ago and am happy to be able to offer it again: a nice condition Brooks' Military and Travelling Writing Case with a probable identification to Oramel Minot Tillotson of Craftsbury, Vermont, Co. E, 3rd Vermont Infantry, killed in action at the Wilderness 5/5/64.
First, the case itself. This is the early version of the Brooks' case with "Patent Applied For" at the end of the discriptive label printed on the outside of the blotter paper wrapper of the tin tube case. Included with the are several of the original yellow envelopes, the printed checkerboard and two of the cardboard checkers. There is a period pen (no nib), an old but not period pencil, and a small traveling inkwell in a small green tin case. The exterior roll cover is in good condition with its lining and the two elastics are there as well. The case fits its written description on the interior printed label, being 8 1/2 inches long and about 1 3/4 inches in diameter when rolled up.
The identification is based on a child's name, "Foster A. Tillotson," written in colored pencil on one of the lined sheets of writing paper that were probably original to the case, like the envelopes. (The name "Foster" appears also on one of the envelopes along with "Santa" so it looks like he got hold of the writing case and decided to send a letter with his Christmas wishes one year.) A genealogical search disclosed he was born in 1882, the son of George Lester Tillotson (born 1857), whose father was Oramel M. Tillotson. All three generations lived in Craftsbury, Vermont.
Oramel Tillotson was married with three children when enlisted as a private on 12/19/63 and mustered into Co. E of the 3rd Vermont on 12/29/63. The date of his enlistment suggests he may have taken advantage of the bounties being offered recruits at that stage of the war in order to support his family.
The 3rd Vermont was part of the Old Vermont Brigade in the 6th Army Corps and was particularly hard hit in Grant's 1864 campaign. In the first day's fighting at the Wilderness they lost 171 men, of whom only 4 were prisoners or missing, the rest were killed or wounded. Tillotson was one of the 39 men killed, having served less than five months.
Tillotson's fate was at first uncertain, but nothing was heard from him after the battle and his brother-in-law wrote to his company commander for information. A letter by Lt. B.H. Fuller is included in Martha Ann Tillotson's application for a widow's pension. "The fate of Tillotson is not certainly known, but we suppose him to be dead. The last seen of him was on that ill fated day, the 5th of May last. He was seen to fall, severely wounded. Our lines were forced to fall back, thus leaving a portion of our dead & wounded in the hands of the enemy untill the next morning when they in turn fell back, but the position of our Regt. being changed during the night, we occupied different ground on the 6th. A man who was assisting him when we fell back was shot dead. If the enemy took him prisoner he must have died shortly as nearly all of our severely wounded died notwithstanding all the assistance we could give them. But whether he died or lived long enough to be taken prisoner I am unable to say. I would like to have got something of his to send home to his friends, but that was impossible. These are all the particulars I can gather respecting him..."
The testimony was sufficient to gain his wife a pension that she received until her death in 1906.
There is no soldier name or unit designation in the case, but this is precisely the sort of writing case given to or purchased by men joining the service. The presence of the five envelopes and the checkerboard indicate it saw little use and was likely sent home before the army set out on the overland campaign just days before Tillotson's death.
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