Lieutenant Mark Rambo Supplee, Company I, 51st Pennsylvania Infantry survived the successful assault across what later became known as Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam in September 1862.

In November 1863 he was posted to the Convalescent Camp at Camp Nelson, near Lexington, KY, disabled by a gunshot through his foot at Fredericksburg, VA in December 1862. As a family historian later put it:

[H]e found the place in great disarray. There was no semblance of orderliness; no roster of those assigned to the Camp; no record of who came and who went. Mark, being one of the few officers in the Camp, sought to improve upon matters. In order to make any progress in creating order out of confusion he needed some measure of authority. He determined that to gain this authority it would be necessary to approach the Adjutant [sic] General …

touch letter to see a full transcript

He was commissioned in the Invalid Corps, appointed Commandant of the Convalescent Camp, and got it under control. Family lore says that work helped lead to what much later became the Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital system.

He mustered out with his regiment at the end of his 3 years’ service, in November 1864, and returned to farming in Montgomery County, PA.

Here he is a bit later in life:


The handwritten and typescript copies of his 1863 letter and the postwar photo above are all courtesy of great-grandson Willard Supplee Yeakel, Jr. A huge thank-you to him for those and for pointing me to his ancestor in the first place; I would otherwise have passed him over.

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