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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:This letter was written about four weeks after the Gettysburg campaign. Combined both sides conservatively suffered 52,000 casualties. The medical stress for proper care of the maimed and ill on the Union side was enormous. Even before Gettysburg major northern cities had established rehabilitation hospitals and other facilities. But, now the challenge to provide proper medical services was more acute than ever. At this point Charles had been in army medical care for almost one full year. No doubt because of the extremely high casualty numbers he finds himself in yet another new location, having been moved a short distance from Bedlows Island in New York Harbor to a mainland hospital in Newark, New Jersey. A letter from his sister Laura has finally caught up to him. His continuing care for her welfare, in spite of his own condition, is most evident. He has also been affected by news of the severe mauling that his own regiment, the 97 NYVI, received during its engagement at Gettysburg. -- Another interesting comment concerns a “likeness” he had taken. This would be a 19th century photograph called a tintype. The letter confirms that it was sent back to Laura here in Oneida County. If that image were to surface how nice it would be to put a real face on a piece of our history.


US General Hospital
Aug 10th 63

Dear Sister

I received your letter this morning and it took a load off my mind to hear that you were getting a long so well. I had begun to think that you were very sick and perhaps dead for I thought that if you were a live you wood write.

I wood like to come home as well as you could wish and have been trying to get a furlough. I went to New York City to see the medical director, but he was not in his office and I could not see him. I intend to come home if it is possible now that I have got so near my own State

I had a pretty sick night but feel pretty well to day. I have a little police duty to do sweeping and have the afternoon and evening to go around. My health has been pretty good generally excepting the weakness in my right side which still bothers me. I hardly think that I shall be discharged very soon, but wish that I might be near you, especially if I could do you any good.

Dear Sister, I do not wish to control you in choosing a partner for life but I am glad that you have so much confidence in writing to me. I think that we should counsel together as brother and sister that loved each other and each others welfare

I had my likeness taken to send to Cousin Helen but I concluded to send this to you and have another taken for coz Helen. I did not know as my letters reached you so I sent it to Lydies or the center. I have written to Helen but I can get no answers and also to Lysander. My mail does not follow me very well.

Lieutenant Cady was wounded at Gettysburg and has since died. Our captain has been wounded, first lieutenant discharged, General Wheelock was taken prisoner but escaped, lieutenant Colonel Spofford was taken prisoner and several of my comrades were killed and wounded. There are several of my regiment and one of my company here.

Write soon direct
US General Hospital Market Street
Newark NJ 10 Ward
From your brother Hervey Hayden


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 27, 2011

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