Cornelius Hine Pering

The Death Letter His Wife Received

Letter of Cornelius H. Pering

April 20, 1864

Cornelius H. Pering (1831-1864)

Cornelius Hine Pering (or Perring), the fourth great-grandfather of Brother Jason Fite, was born in Chard, England on 19 March 1831. His father Cornelius Pering (1806-1881) was a man of liberal education who arrived in America with his wife Susannah Hine (1801-1845) and their infant son Cornelius on 27 August 1832 in order to establish the Bloomington Female Seminary. Cornelius Hine Pering grew up in Indiana and married Mary E. Allison in Livonia on 09 February 1853 and they had three children over the next five years: John Allison Pering (1853), Emma Susan Pering (1856), and Jason's third great-grandfather William Edwin Pering (1858).

Cornelius was a farmer in Vernon Township, Indiana when the Civil War began. He enrolled in Company E of the 71st Indiana Infantry on the 9th of August 1862. This was almost 30 years to the day after he arrived in America as an infant. His physical characteristics at enlistment were: "Age 31, eyes blue, hair light, height 5'8", complexion light, nativity Somerset County England, Occupation farmer."

The 71st regiment quickly saw action in Richmond, Kentucky on 30 August 1862 where it was captured. They were paroled, sent home, reorganized, and were back in action in time to be captured again at Muldraugh's Hill, Kentucky on 27 December 1862. The record of Cornelius' parole still exists. He was captured at Rolling Fork sometime between 28 December 1862 and 10 January 1863 . He was paroled on 10 January 1863 and reported back to Indianapolis. The 71st Regiment was reorganized upon his return into the 6th Indiana Calvary Regiment.

The 6th Indiana Calvary saw action several times in late 1863 during the Knoxville Campaign while attached to the XXIII Army Corps, Department of the Ohio. Cornelius was detached from the Regiment in January 1864 to serve as a clerk in the office of the Assistant Adjutant General for the IX Corps (Captain Samuel Wright). It appears that he returned to the regiment sometime before they pushed off for Georgia. The 6th Regiment was assigned to Mt. Sterling and Nicholasville, Kentucky until April 1864 when they marched to Dalton, Georgia as part of the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division Cavalry Corps. Before the 6th Indiana Calvary left Nicholasville for Dalton, Cornelius was assigned as a clerk in the Adjutant General's Office of the 2nd Brigade Cavalry Corps commanded by Col. James Biddle.

On 23 May 1864 Cornelius was part of the rear guard for the supply train of the XXIII Corps fording the Etowah River eight miles south of Cartersville, Georgia. As he rose from reading his newspaper against a small sapling, his carbine accidentally discharged. Cornelius' wife Mary was instantly widowed as the ball entered under his right eye and lodged in his brain. His Company Commander Captain A. J. Welch wrote home to Mary that, "we lose in him a much esteemed soldier and comrade." Lieutenant H. E. Madison wrote that Cornelius was an "excellent man, a good soldier, and a professing Christian and he met his death not through his negligence, or carelessness, but from an accident not apprehended." The spirit and strength of his character can be seen in a letter that he wrote home only a month before he died. On 20 April 1864, Cornelius wrote from Nicholasville, "You ask my opinion about the future (eternal) prospects of the Rebels & say that John Green thinks none of them can go to Heaven. I cannot agree with him as I believe there are pious people among them & genuine Christians tho' the eyes of their understanding may be somewhat darkened."