|Unit History Project|
The Civil War Letters Of
Editor's Note: In this letter of October 10, 1862 Charles Hayden writes to his sister Laura, in Westernville, (Big Brook) N.Y., from the Union hospital in Smoketown, Maryland. In it he informs her of his wounds suffered in the Battle of Antietam. The Smoketown Hospital was one of many hastily created for wounded soldiers. It consisted of an oak grove sheltering about 80 army tents. Two dilapidated cabins served as the only standing structures. Dr. W. R. Mosley, Assistant Medical Inspector for Union forces, noted that two months after the battle in November 1862, there were 479 patients under treatment. 232 were wounded soldiers while 237 others were sick with typhoid fever, dysentery and diarrhea. Many were afflicted with both wounds and disease. When the following letter was written Charles was in the latter category. However, he realized his good fortune to be alive upon his reflection of the battle and its horror.
I take this opportunity to write a few lines to you. I was wounded in the battle of the 17th of last month. I was wounded in the right breast. My wounds appear to be doing well. I also received a shot in my thumb and finger of my left hand but my fingers are about well. I have had a bad diarrhea which has kept me very week. We went into the battle early in the morning. I was in a cornfield when I fell. I was left and the rebels passed over me then our men drove them back again. The rebels were charging again when I placed my handkerchief over my wound and standed (stood). (sic) I came to an ambulance and they took me in and brought me to the Hospital we are in. Nice new tents 5 - of us in our tent - I have been up and out of doors yesterday. I do not know whether they will let me come home or not - the battle was a terrible affair. Men (were) dropping all around - with heads and legs off. The continual roar of cannon the shot and shell flying around and the hissing of the balls all make it terrible.
Dear sister write soon direct as before.
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History