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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:At this moment in September of 1863 the wounded from the Gettysburg campaign have been moved to hospitals through out the Northern States. Charles is fortunate because for the last month he has been assigned to the General Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. This is his second letter from that location. He writes with great concern for his sister’s well being after a courtship with a young man turns sour. His advice to her comes directly from his Christian bearing which no doubt has been enhanced through the work of the United States Christian Commission. Incredibly, with all that he has suffered his outlook is positive, even to the point of considering himself fortunate. This letter offers a window into the general mind set, and spirituality of many typical Civil War soldiers both North and South.

 

US General Hospital
Newark, N.J.
September 26th 63

Dear Sister

I received your interesting and affectionate letter to day. O that I had wisdom to council you right but I know so little about the young man you speak of - his running away in the night from his parents farm is not in accordance with the Lords command to honor father and Mother. He should obey his parents in the Lord and be subject to them until of age. He should obey them without they tell him to disobey god. Sister how bad it would be to have his father and Mother and Sisters feel so sorely. You, Dear Sister ask God to direct you. -- Dear Sister I am sorry that you have promised your heart and hand and are obliged to break it. Look well before you make any more promises or unite yourself for life. Yes, Dear Sister I wish I could be with you and protect you from all dangers but I could not if I were there. There are dangers that no human I can see. My prayer to God is that he may keep and protect you from every evil. -- Dear Sister, you frankly told me that you met this man in the woods. I believe you to be a good girl but if our Dear Mother was alive would she approve of your meeting any man but your Father or brother alone in the woods? I think not. I believe if she were alive she would watch every action. That she would might sensor and teach you as only a mother can the way of duty and the way of God.

Among the first things that I can remember is of our mother being a poor widow earning her living by her needle and at night she would kneel down with her little boy and ask God’s blessing upon herself and son. Though poor I believe that she had a care for those more needy than herself. Her last words to me were, ”Hervey be a good boy for I am going a way.” And I know that she would have me use every influence that I could to have you a good and Christian girl. I believe that she died happy and if I live (to be) a good Christian boy I expect to meet her in heaven. Dear Sister, let us try to meet each other there –

God has been good to us through all the years that are past - through all the years that I loved not God he was good to me -- and since I entered the army comrades have fallen on the right hand and on the left. Cannon balls have torn the air and earth around me and rifle balls have flew thick and fast. Still I am alive though wounded but not killed - though confined for a long time in the hospital yet I have not suffered a great degree of pain. Though sick I have had many blessings. God has taken care of us all our lives. O that we might love him with all our hearts – I am glad you are reading the bible with me to day - I read the 11 chapters of Mathew.

Did you write when you receive this direct as before?
From Your Loving Brother Hervey

 

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
URL: http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/historic/reghist/civil/infantry/97thInf/97thInf/97thInf_Hayden/97thInf_Letters_Hayden12.htm

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