I had planned to do a number of blog posts in March, but sometimes life gets in the way of the things we plan to do, and we just have to cope with the problems that life throws at us. In my case, it was a nasty bout with the flu, which laid me low for quite a while. But I am feeling much better now and up and writing once again.
This post is about friendship – in particular about the strong bond between two Mississippi veterans. In May 1910, J.K. Mosby sent the Gulfport Daily Herald a copy of a letter written by Henry Clay Sharkey of Jackson in which the old veteran spoke about the recent loss of his dear friend Isaac Hamberlin. Mosby told the editor of the paper that “Mr. Hamberlin and Mr. Sharkey had been intimate friends since their early manhood.”
Sharkey sent his letter to William H. Stephens, who was also a friend of Hamberlin. It was published in the May 10, 1910, edition of the Gulfport Daily Herald:
Wm. H. Stephens, Beauvoir, Miss.
Dear Billy: Your postal telling me of the death on Sunday night of my good and longtime friend, Tobe Hamberlin, was not a surprise as I saw that only a few days was left to him when I was at Beauvoir, but even with this notice I feel that something I must say to you, his friend, of that noble gentleman our mutual friend, Tobe Hamberlin.
Tobe always lived for others when in the flush of youth – his brother’s family were his first love. His companions comfort and happiness his earnest desire. He never cared for property or wealth, but no man ever was a more conscientious employee. As age swept on him, slowly but surely, his nature was the same. The warm blood of love and friendship never dried up or became stagnant. He was appreciative of ever favor, every act of kindness done to him was remembered.
Soon you and I must join the host “on the other side” and when we go, let us be as well equipped in good worthy deeds as our friend Tobe. When the “Book of Life” is opened I know the credit side will be large for Tobe and you, but I hope even I may have at least a small balance in my favor and I will meet Tobe again.
Your Friend and Comrade,
Sharkey’s letter is just a short memorial to a lost comrade, but I think it speaks volumes about the strong bonds of friendship that existed in that day and age. I would count myself lucky, indeed, if a friend were to eulogize my passing in such a way.
The wonderful letter written by Henry Clay Sharkey inspired me to look up a little information about both him and his friend Hamberlin. Sharkey, from Hinds County, joined the “Beauregard Rifles,” Company I, 18th Mississippi Infantry, in 1861, but later transferred to the “Downing Rifles,” Company C, 3rd Mississippi Infantry. He survived the war, and in his later years wrote extensively about his wartime experiences. In 1908 Sharkey became a member of the board of trustees at the Beauvoir Veterans Home in Biloxi, Mississippi. This was very fortunate, as one of the old veterans living at Beauvoir was his friend Isaac Hamberlin.
Isaac Hamberlin, known to his friends at “Tobe,” was a native of Yazoo County, Mississippi, and in 1861 joined the “Satartia
Rifles,” Company B, 12th Mississippi Infantry. He was wounded during the Seven Days’ Battles for Richmond in the summer of 1862, but recovered from his wounds and returned to the 12th Mississippi. Hamberlin was captured at the Battle of Weldon Railroad on August 21, 1864, and sent to Point Lookout, Maryland, prisoner of war camp. He was exchanged on March 11, 1865, shortly before the war ended. In 1900 Hamberlin was living with his older brother in Sharkey County, and listed his occupation as fisherman. At some point after 1900 he went to live at Beauvoir Veterans Home. Hamberlin remained there until his death on May 1, 1910, and is buried in the Confederate cemetery at Beauvoir. He also has a memorial stone at Mechanicsburg in his native Yazoo County.