1865: Edward Oscar Fitzalan Roler Letter

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Edward Oscar Fitzalan Roler

This letter was written by Edward Oscar Fitzalan Roler (1833-1907), the son of Peter W. Roler (1803-1880) and Catharine A. R. Carson (1814-1870). Edward was a graduate of DePauw University (Greencastle, IN), and Rush Medical College (Chicago, IL) in 1859. In 1861, Roler enlisted as an Assistant Surgeon in the 42nd Illinois Infantry. He was later promoted to Surgeon of the 55th Illinois Regiment and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Roler’s letter provides a medical summary of the wound received by Col. Oscar Malmborg (1820-1880), a Swedish emigrant who worked as an agent on the Illinois Central Railroad prior to the Civil War. During the war, he served in the 55th Illinois Regiment and assumed temporary command of the 2nd Brigade of the 5th Division commanded by William T. Sherman. He was permanently made the Colonel of the regiment in April 1863 and received the wound—described below—while leading his men at Vicksburg.

[Note: This letter & the CDVs are from the personal collection of Austin Sundstrom and are published by express consent.]


Chicago, Illinois
May 15, 1865

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Col. Oscar Malmborg, 55th Illinois Infantry

Col. O. Malmborg, 2d Regt. U. S. Veterans, late Col. 55th Regt. Illinois Infantry, having requested a certificate relative to the condition of his eyesight from injuries received in the service, I must willingly certify, from personal knowledge at the time of occurrence and from frequent examinations made subsequently that he is laboring under an affection of the right eye of an amaurotic character, the result of a wound in the right temple by a musket ball while leading his regiment in the assault on the enemy’s works in the rear of Vicksburg May 19th 1863. As nearly as can be determined the stretch to the globe of the eye and optic nerve has resulted in impairment of the sensibility of the retinae.

The integrity of vision of the left eye is also slightly impaired from a wound received during the second assault on the same works May 22nd 1863—a minute spicule of shell entering the external angular process of the temporal bone in which it still remains embedded but this eye does not give serious inconvenience.

The history of the case shows that the degree of imperfection in vision is influenced to some extent by external circumstances of temperature and conditions of weather.

— E. O. F. Roler, Surgeon 55th Ill. Infantry


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