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The Civil War Letters Of
Charles Harvey Hayden
Patriot & Hero
97th New York Volunteer Infantry
Donated and transcribed By Al Grenning

Editor's Note: Charles writes to his sister Laura, from Frederick City, Maryland, on May 25th, 1863. The Smoketown hospital he had been confined to during the past seven and one half months will never meet his eyes again. This letter comes shortly after the Battle of Chancellorsville in early May. Combined, the North and South suffered over thirty thousand casualties and was the most humiliating Union defeat of the Civil War. The stress placed on the medical corps of both sides for care of the wounded was beyond capabilities. Good fortune and luck was with Charles because he found himself in a situation offering clean, un-crowded quality care. Once examined by the doctor in his new setting there was evidently consideration for sending him to the Invalid Corps. However, serving the remainder of his military term with the maimed and handicapped was not to be his fate. Most interesting are his eye opening comments concerning the care of rebel prisoners!


Fredrick City
May 25, 63
Dear Sister,

I have left Smoketown at last. I have been here three weeks. I did not get my discharge at Smoketown as I expected. I don’t know how long I will be here probably all summer. The weather has been very warm for a few days – I do not think I feel as well when the weather is very warm. I spoke about my discharge to the doctor Saturday morning for the first time. Twice I have been in the hospital. I thought if I could go north where the weather is cooler it would be better for me. The doctor gave me but little encouragement about going home and seemed to think that I might be able to go into the invalid corps but said he would see if I was entitled to discharge.

The hospital is pleasantly situated just at the outskirts of the town. There are 18 or 20 buildings 100 or 200 feet long and about 30 feet wide. They are enclosed by a high fence and when we wish to go out we have to get a pass. I have had 4 or 5 and have not had to ask for one –

I like it here very well everything is kept very nice and clean.

This Hospital is not very full of patients. The rebel patients were sent off a few days ago. They were used as well as we an sleep in the same rooms and eat at the same table. I believe in using prisoners well and I wish that our prisoners could be used as well as they have been. I think they (Rebels) were used better than they (Union) were.

Laura, perhaps you may not get this letter very soon but answer as soon as you get it and tell me where to direct if you are at home or anywhere else from our home.

Direct Fredrick City
General Hospital M.D.
Barrack 0

My ink is so poor that I do not know whether you can read this letter or not.
From Hervey to his sister Laura.

P.S. Laura if you are at home answer (confirm) with a few lines in your next letter.


These first appeared in the Boonville Herald and Adirondack Tourist, Boonville, New York in 2005. They are posted here with permission.


New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History
Last modified: October 25, 2011

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