My Brother’s Playmate

Eight days after The Battle of Shiloh had concluded, Kate Cumming was walking through the largest ward of the field hospital at the Old Tishomingo Hotel when a young man called her by name. She paused.

“May I help you?”

“Do you not recollect me, ma’am?” said the young man.

He was laid out like the others with obvious wounds in his midsection. He was also gaunt and dirty.

“Can’t say as I do,” said Kate.

“Why, ma’am, it’s me, George Shutterlee.”

And then it came back to her. Yes, that George Shutterlee (also spelled Shutterle and Shutterly in the records). George was born in 1842 or 1843–he was barely of age to enlist.

“Why, of course it’s you, George,” said Kate. “But you’re so grown now and with your uniform, I couldn’t place you.”

George smiled wanly. He was the second son of John Shutterlee and Margaret Stauter. When news of Shiloh and George’s wounding reached home, older brother John would enlist in the 32nd Alabama.

Kate knew John better–they were closer in age. Of course, in her mind’s eye, George was still the little boy playing with her younger brother James, thirteen years Kate’s junior. It would be akin to walking through a combat hospital today and finding the boy you used to babysit. It stunned her now to see his condition, the sweat on his face from the strain of his wounds, the war-weary stare, the battered uniform.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Shutterlee?” she asked.

“Oh, Mrs. Lyons from back home, you remember her?” Kate nodded. “She is taking fine care of me.”

“Mrs. Lyons would, of course,” said Kate.

“But if I could trouble you for one thing, ma’am,” said George, stuttering a bit over his words.

“Go ahead, George.”

“Could you write my mother and let her know that I am here? That I have been wounded but am getting along and that two of Mobile’s finest ladies are seeing to me?”

“I will do so at once,” said Kate.

And she did. She set aside other duties and immediately wrote to Margaret.

From there, George disappears from history. It is possible, if not probable, that he died on the site of his wounds. In August 1862, a “Martha Graham” put in a financial claim related to George Shutterle, indicating she was his mother. The handwritten document is not available to examine in online databases–it is possible that the mother on this record was Margaret and that the handwriting was misread and incorrectly transcribed. The record indicates that George had no spouse or children. Beyond that, we have little else to go on–no post-War marriage records, no appearances in the Census, no grave record. As with tens of thousands of the South’s sons, George seems to have disappeared, perhaps as another placed in the ground on the site of the Old Tishomingo.

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