Lt. Latham T. Dervish
ON Memorial Day, the Utter Despair Borough Hall always erects a wreath on the front lawn in remembrance of the town's Civil War hero. His name was Latham T. Dervish and he received a medal of honor and the rank of Lieutenant after a display of sacrifice by drawing enemy fire away from his own men one hot July day in 1864. Latham's unit was trapped behind a rock outcropping in Pennslyvania. They had no escape from a Rebel unit advancing on them. Latham's men testified that they were wounded, frightened ... had little ammunition left and had only one route of escape, but would surely be seen if they did attempt to flee. At a later date, one of the men said that Latham Dervish stood up and walked out from the outcropping and ran to the left of his comrade's position which caused the Rebel unit to chase him and eventually shoot him in his act of heroic diversion.
AS his men escaped in the confusion, they met up with another Union unit who returned with them to attack the Rebels and killed each and every one. Lt. Nathan Meredith was in charge of the Union unit that was just over the hill. He provided food and medical attention to Latham Dervish's bedraggled unit. In interviewing the survivors, Lt. Meredith learned of Latham Dervish's brave attempt of diversion in drawing the enemy's attention from his compatriots. Lt. Meredith returned to to find Latham's body and found him to be still alive ... though he was shot in the chest right at heart level. It seemed a thick packet of folded writing paper in his breast pocket halted the bullet from entering his heart and saved his life.
AS stated, Latham Dervish was awarded with a medal for his sacrifice and reached a higher rank. However, it was learned later that he had told the unit cook that he wanted to die and had decided to run into enemy fire because he was too frightened to shoot himself. The packet of folded paper was his suicide note that consisted of over 40 pages detailing his woes, nightmares, stomach ailments due to canned army beans, problems finding a woman to date, his mother complex, feelings of inadequacy, problems with impotence and his rag weed allergies (which were further enhanced by his bivouacking in the field).
Latham had always received bad marks in his essay work at Utter Despair public school due to his habit of run-on sentences and flowery verbiage. It seemed though his bad writing style had saved his neurotic self hating life.
Latham Dervish was given his own unit after he recuperated. He was killed four months later at the battle of Skunk Grass Hill after he had climbed into his own troop cannon and was accidentally fired into an oncoming regiment of Confederate soldiers. Obviously, another suicide attempt which proved to be successful this time. But even this time he was further honored ... his dead body was propelled into the commanding officer of the Rebel army and they surrendered ... and he was awarded another medal and posthumously awarded the rank of Colonel.