David W. Christian (Uncle of John Lucian McBride) to His Wife
Chattanooga, September 21, 1863

David Christian was also in the Fifty-First Illinois, also in Company D

My Dear Wife

As I have an opportunity to send this part way by private conveyance and as no mail leaves here until the battle is over I thought I would write you a line. I suppose you will have heard of the death of Lucian before this reaches you. If not I prefer to have you break it to his mother. Do it as gently as you can for it will break her heart anyway. I wrote you a line this morning stating something in relation to it. As I said this morning, as soon as I heard of our men having a fight with the secesh I went to the battle field. I was there sometime before I dare inquire about Lucian. You can imagine how I felt when I heard that he was shot. I started to try to get the body but found the rebels had possession of the ground. I was told if I attempted to go any farther I would be shot so I went back to the hospital. In about an hour our men came passing in on the double quick and formed a line back of the hospital. All that was able to walk was ordered to the front so I went with the rest. I went forward about 2 miles then sat down for about an hour but the crowd increased more and more until there was a regular stampede so I had to give up looking for Lucien's body for the present. The last words he was heard to say were "Come on boys. It is a shame for you to run." It was said his voice was heard above all the rest. The balls were flying so fast they were ordered to lay down. He raised his head and as he did so a ball struck him in the forehead. The boys picked him up and carried him and laid him beside a log intending to get him as soon as they could with safety but the rebs got possession of the field. As soon as I can I will go to search for him. They were only there about five minutes and half of the company were either killed or wounded.

I saw him in the morning of the day he was shot (he was shot on the 19th). He seemed to be very glad to see me and when I left him he put out his hand and shook hands with me and bid me goodbye. I don't know as he ever did the like before. As I was walking away I could but think how singular it was. I did not think they would have a battle that day. he looked very calm and pleasant, almost heavenly. His looks and actions impressed me very deeply. He was a good boy and I think he could not have died better prepared.

I have to stop writing as Mr. Barber is about to start. William is well, Sept 22

From your affectionate husband,
D. W. Christian

John L. McBride Letters, Mohler Family Papers, Lincoln, Nebraska.