|Unit History Project|
The Civil War Letters Of
Editors note: In this letter of January 25, 1863 Charles is still receiving care from the same hospital in Maryland that he wrote from in November. His progress is amazing considering the seriousness of his wounds. He notes that Smoketown is becoming the recipient of soldiers from other hospitals. Just four weeks before this was written Union forces lost 13,000 soldiers (18,000 - both sides combined) to casualties during the Battle of Fredricksburg. No doubt the influx of patients he notes was the result of that battle.
The letter also demonstrates the influence of the United States Christian Commission. During the war this YMCA founded, non denominational, charity funded, volunteer organization cared to the spiritual needs of soldiers, particularly those who were wounded. It supplied clothing, diaries, writing material, bibles and ministry for both northern soldiers and captured southerners. Religious services were held and libraries were established in most hospital camps. Over 5000 volunteers supported the organization. Their work was to have a profound effect on Private, Charles Hayden of the 97th NYVI.
Smoketown Jan. 25th 1863
I take this opportunity to write a few lines to you. I am still at this Hospital. We are in large tents and have a good stove. There are five of us in a tent. I am gaining strength and my wounds are healed up but I feel the affects of them inwardly considerably yet a few weeks ago. I expected to be with you before this time but I do not know whether I shall be discharged or not. Now they talk as though they wanted me to go to nursing, but I do not want to do it, I rather go to my Reg, if I was able but I do not think that I am able yet.
They are making this a General Hospital for this region and are bringing their sick from other hospitals. Here we have some Three hundred -- now of sick and wounded. I had a letter from Cousin Helen a few days a go. She was well and I am always glad to hear from her. She takes as much interest in my welfare as though she was my sister. I wish you could see the letters. You said that Edward was not what you expected. I am glad that you found him out before it was too late but am sorry that you were disappointed. You spoke about going to Steuben to work perhaps you may be there before this reaches you. I do not know what is for the best but I hope that you may be diverted for the best and trust to that friend that never can forsake you. Read the bible and be directed by its teachings, it will lead you a right.
Dear Sister I am tired of war and blood-shed and tired of seeing sickness and suffering caused by this unhappy war.
I believe that our only hope is to trust. Trust to him that tempers the wind to the Shorn lamb. I hope that we may do away with the evil that is among us and the Lord will (----) to bless us as a nation for without his blessing we can do nothing-till Pa and Ma. That I am as well as can be expected under the circumstances receiving a ball about three inches to the right of the pit of the stomach and coming out just back of my arm. I have received (an) overcoat and pants and under cloths from the government. I lost my clothes in the battle. We have not received any pay for most seven months but I sent back to Western for some so that I have had what I needed to use. I have had to buy considerable food as our fair is rather poor. I hope the time may soon come when we shall meet a gain but in the mean time try to be a good girl. I was sorry to hear that you had been sick but was glad to hear that you were getting quite well a gain. I hope your health may continue good.
We have plenty of hickory nuts here. I have been out several times and got some but could not get as many as I would because I could not climb the trees – you hardly know how much I wish to see you. But that cannot bee for the present but we will hope that the time will come when we shall meet again.
Dear Sister, write soon and direct
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History