Heroes of Albany - Isaac Jonathan Roach
Corporal Isaac J. Roach of Knox
Isaac J. Roach was the son of john and Phebe Roach and was born Knox August 27, 1837.
When a child, he was remarkable for his kind and obliging disposition and was very fond of relieving the wants of the poor. Early in life he became hopefully converted, and united with the Methodist Church in the town of Knox. When the war broke out, he felt a great anxiety to have the union of the United States preserved, and he thought that the Government needed his services more than they were needed at home. Like most of the noble men whose careers we have sketched, he received on enlisting no bounty money but was influenced by the purest patriotism.
He joined Co F Forty-fourth NY Regiment in August 1861 and his military life was very brief. While at Camp Butterfield, Hall's Hill Virginia he was taken with typhoid fever, and died December 29, 1861. His remains were brought home to Knox and buried. The two following letters were received, addressed to his brother, which furnish all the information that I have been able to obtain concerning his last hours."
Camp Butterfield, Jan. 29, 1862.
Mr. Robert D. Roach:
Dear Sir — Your kind note, dated January 7th, is at hand. It appears that you and myself have alike been sick, and are both recovering. Would to God that your brother, who was my best friend, had also been preserved. But I think, judging from what I have seen of him, that he is happier now than when among us.
He was with us some two weeks previous to his going to the hospital, after he was taken sick. He was taken to the hospital on Friday, and on Sunday I was taken down with a fever, and confined to my tent. After he entered the hospital, he appeared to grow better. In fact, so much so, that he talked of coming over to see us in camp. But, alas! he never came. He soon grew rapidly Avorse, until death ended his sufferings.
How gladly would I have been with him more than I was, that I might have administered to his wants. But I was not able to leave my tent until within a few days previous to his death. On the Friday previous I went over to see him. My surprise was great to see how changed he had become. I saw plainly the impress of death marked upon that noble brow. I felt that my esteemed friend and camp chum, he who had been my companion on our southern march, and who had promised to stand by me in the time of need, must surely die. Never shall I forget that meeting. He partly arose in his bed as he extended his hand to me, and as our hands were thus grasped, he acted as though he would have me join him, in his heavenward journey. Owing to the nature of his disease, his mind wandered at times, until within a day or two of his death, when he became rational. He frequently spoke of the different members of your family, calling each of you by name.
Truly yours, JOHN A. RAMSEY,
4th Sergeant Co. F, 44th Regt.
Mr. Robert Roach:
Dear Sir — You have already been informed of the much lamented death of your highly esteemed brother. You have indeed laid a costly and most precious offering on the altar of our much loved common country — the altar of civil and religious liberty. I sympathize deeply with you in the loss, and feel his death like the loss of a brother. His tent was close by mine, and he was always so kind, so brotherly, so read}^ to assist me whenever I wanted anything done, that I shall feel his death very much. Besides, it was so unexpected to me, find he seemed, as I thought from his apparently vigorous frame, to give such promise of long life and great usefulness, that I tind it hard to feel reconciled. And then for the last few days, he was more or less delirious, so that when we began to fear that he would not recover, there was no opportunity of communicating with him or he with us.
But terribly painful as the trial is, it is all right. For it is all by His specific appointment and arrangement, who never made a mistake; who is too wise to err, and too good to be unkind; who loves us better than we love ourselves, and who will cause all things to work together for good to those who love Him.
I believe, however, that with him the sting of death was taken away, and that our loss is his infinite and eternal gain. Though we have not in his case the evidence of death-bed religious experiences, we have, I think, what is far preferable — the evidence of a life of piety.
I deeply sympathize with you, and wdth his parents, and pray that God will 1)6 unto them better than sons and daughters, and to you a friend, that sticketh closer than a brother. I hope that neither you or they wall ever regret sending him forth, or feel that he has lived in vain, or that he would have been spared,if he had remained at home. I pray j^ou, do not regret that he died away from home. He died not alone or unattended, and the Saviour was as near him while here, as he could have been if he had been at home. The road to Heaven is as straight and short from hence as from your own home. And he could not have died in a more glorious cause, or filled a more honored grave, or leave behind him a more fragrant and enduring remembrance. And he being dead, speaketh, and wall speak many years to come, to multitudes, and thus, I hope, like Sampson, accomplish more by his death, than he could have done if he had lived to the longest period allotted to man.
Thus did SAM. I. MILLS, and HARRIET NEWEL, and HENRY MARTYN, and HENRY KIRK WHITE, and many others in earlier and later times. And why should it not be so with him? It is true the battle was soon over with him. But if he has fought the good fight, he has come off more than conqueror.
Let us, then, each prepare to follow. And let us remember,
- "Hearts, like muffled drums, are beating
- Funeral marches to the grave."
I may never meet you, perhaps, on earth, but I hope to meet you where sickness and sorrow, pain and death, are felt and feared no more. In the mean time, please accept the sympathies of a stranger, but a friend, and present my sympathies to your greatly afflicted parents.
Yours truly, L. H. PEASE,
Chaplain 44th Y. Y. S. V.
Hall's Hill, Va., Dec. 30.