A.C.W.S.
Ltd (UK)
ACWS Ltd

CIVIL WORDS FROM A MAN AT WAR

When the Confederate Army attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina 140 years ago, it opened the bloodiest chapter in American history. Among the thousands who volunteered was Andros Guille from Ohio, whose family was originally from St Martin's in Guernsey.

A chance meeting on the Internet between two men named Guille led to a family link being established and the diary of an American Civil War volunteer finding its way to Guernsey.

Graham Guille had been researching his family history when he bumped into Lee Guille in virtual cyberspace. Each was working on different ends of the family tree and complemented the other's researches. Andros Guille fought in the American Civil War. His grandfather was Nicholas Guille who was born at Saint's Farm in St Martin's in about 1734. He married Caroline Carey in 1775 and they moved from Guernsey to Barcelona. Andros' father Joseph was a doctor who served in the Royal Navy, possibly on Nelson's flagship Victory and then moved to Philadelphia in 1810. Andros was born in Zanesville, Ohio, 1832. He fought and was badly wounded in the Civil War, fought the American War Department to get a pension, featured in a medical text book and had eight children. He died in 1910. His great-grandson, Les Guille, was a commander in the US Navy and he sent Graham a copy of Andros' Civil War diary.

Andros Guille was born in Zanesville, Ohio in 1832. He was apprenticed as a bookbinder in his youth and at the age of 22 he married Joanna Flecke. He joined the Union Army on 11 August 1862 with other volunteers from the Ohio counties of Muskingum, Norgan, Guernsey and Coshocion, leaving Joanne to look after four young children. He was soon promoted to corporal and attached to hospitals number three and four in Danville Kentucky, an early version of a MASH unit. A month after he joined up, the unit fought at Perryville, Kentucky and drove back the Confederates. His diary runs from 1 January 1863 until he was wounded in November the same year. As with many war diaries he writes about the lack of food, drills and damp clothing.

Andros exchanged regular correspondence with his wife and friends, and despite having to work in hot and damp conditions, suffering bouts of diarrhoea, being hot and sweaty and having to work in the rain, he remains cheerful. He was wounded during the Union advance in Orchard Knob during the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Union General George Thomas was in charge of the 56,000 strong Army of the Cumberland, the 46,000 strong Confederate Army of Tennessee was led by General Braxton Bragg.

At the battle of Lookout Mountain corporal Andros Guille was wounded by a shell fragment to the head while he was advancing with the 97th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He was one of 157 men in the 97th who were killed or wounded. Andros lost his nose, upper lip and a large portion of his upper jaw and part of the shell tore through his left shoulder, leaving him unable to grip using his left hand.

He was believed to be the most seriously wounded veteran of the battle to survive.

Three operations to re-build his face were unsuccessful and a surgeon made a false nose and lip, covered with a moustache. The prosthetic was held on with a pair of glasses and he wore it for the next 45 years, and fathered four of his eight children.

For a wound to his arm he received a pension of $18 a month until 1882 when the US Senate increased it to $50 a month.

A report by the Committee on Pensions to the first session of the 47th Congress said "These wounds to his face not only greatly disfigure him...they also greatly inconvenience him in eating and drinking, and render him unable to speak distinctly.

Dr William Herriott wrote a report on Andros' injuries for a medical textbook. Previous attempts to surgically rebuild his face had failed so in September 1864 Dr Herriott began to build his prosthetic. The nose and lip were one piece and the false moustache hid the join with the adjacent parts. 'The appliance has been worn ever since.'

Extracts taken from an article written by Peter Pannett, which appeared in the Guernsey Press on Saturday 14th April 2001.

Article supplied by Nick Richards

The above article appeared in the ACWS Newsletter, June 2001


Editor's Footnote

Further information about Andros Guille's Civil War experience can be found at
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~slguille/97thOVI.htm.

The Guille family web site can be found at
http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~slguille/