John S. Corliss papers  1861-1863
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Corliss, John S., d. 1863

Rank : Pvt.

Regiment : 7th New Hampshire Infantry. Co. C (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 November 6-1863 July 18

John S. Corliss was 42 years old, with a daughter already grown and married, when he enlisted in the 7th New Hampshire Infantry in October, 1861. After mustering in at Manchester, N.H., the regiment was ordered to Washington, D.C., on January 12th, 1862, only to be waylaid for a month in New York City. In February, they shipped out to Fort Jefferson, Fla., where they remained on light duty for four months. There, the regiment was stricken with smallpox: 48 men contracted the disease, of whom 10 died and several others were rendered unfit for active duty.

In June, 1862, the 7th New Hampshire was transferred to Beaufort, S.C., where they continued in bad health. They were afflicted sequentially with outbreaks of scurvy, malaria, typhoid fever, and chronic diarrhea, and were constantly pestered by fleas and extreme heat. Corliss himself fell ill with diarrhea in late June, and remained hospitalized -- he claims with minimal medical attention -- for more than 52 days. In Beaufort, relationships with the local black population were strained at best, the soldiers making a sport of stealing melons and other foods from blacks and otherwise engaging in antagonistic interactions with slaves and contrabands. During this time, Corliss became embittered by what he considered to be preferential treatment given to blacks and by the generally poor treatment of soldiers, and he advised his brother-in-law against enlisting in a war fought for the sake of the slave.

At the end of August, after several officers had resigned their commissions and a large number of enlisted men had died or fallen out with disease, the regiment was found unfit for active duty and was "condemned" and reassigned to the healthier climate at St. Augustine, Fla. Corliss' company remained there in the uneventful calm until the following spring. In May, after a two month assignment in Fernandina, Fla., Co. C was placed under Q. A. Gillmore, and transferred to Folly Island, S.C., to take part in the offensive on Charleston. On July 18th, 1863, Corliss was killed in the assault on Fort Wagner.