Henry H. Seys papers  1851-1864
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Seys, Henry H., 1830-1904

Rank : Asst. Surgeon; Surgeon; Medical Inspector

Regiment : 3rd Ohio Infantry Regiment (1861); 15th Ohio Infantry Regiment (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 May 2-1864 August 1

A white West Indian with an aristocratic pedigree, John Seys disgraced his family by becoming a Methodist minister. Undaunted, he followed his calling into a succession of missionary posts while he and his wife worked to raise a large family. Their first four children died in infancy, but Henry, their fifth, survived after being born in America, where his father was laboring as a missionary to the Mohawk Indians. From 1835 to 1845, John Seys served as a missionary in Africa -- accompanied by Henry for three of these years -- and in 1850, he accepted the directorship of the Maryland Colonization Society, returning to Liberia for a short time in 1862.

Although he later signed letters "Seys Jr.," Henry Seys appears never to have gone by the name of his father, nor did he entirely follow in his father's footsteps. In 1853, Henry graduated from medical school in Baltimore, and moved to Springfield, Ohio, to set up practice. Thus Henry Seys was a doctor with eight years' experience when he answered the call to serve in the Civil War, leaving his wife and children under the care of her parents in Massachusetts. Although he is officially listed on the roll of the 3rd Ohio Infantry through July, 1862, and of the 15th Ohio Infantry from then to the end of his service, he actually spent only a fraction of his time with those regiments. Most of his service was spent in staff appointments of various sorts.

Although self-confident, Seys nevertheless harbored deep anxieties about the possibility of failure. Yet despite his fears, he rose steadily through the ranks, from Assistant Surgeon at the beginning of the war to Senior Surgeon in October, 1862, and in March, 1863, to Medical Inspector in the Army of the Cumberland, a post he owed to the support of General William S. Rosecrans. When Rosecrans was relieved of his post later that fall, however, Seys became a casualty of the general reorganization.

Seys and his wife returned to Springfield after the war, following an abortive attempt in 1864 to start a practice in Oil City, Pa. He died on June 17, 1904.