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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 is one of the most pungent and interesting letters in the Hayden collection. At this point Charles is interpreting his fate and those he cares for with strict fundamental adherence to his religious convictions. His obvious desire to bring his sister Laura along a similar path is plainly stated. But, the news he receives from her is truly stunning. Charles will now have to share his extremely close tie with Laura - with another person, Jerry! No doubt this revelation helps to explain why there was no mention of their meeting at Big Brook in his first letter after his furlough earlier in the month. Only in his second letter does he mention anything about time spent together. With this letter it becomes crystal clear that Charles is not the total center of Laura’s existence. He is incredulous and asks for specific details concerning their “marriage.”

During the Civil War counterfeit paper money was a severe problem both north and south. Charles was caught up in this as one of the bills that he gave to his sister was bad. He had been in the practice of sending money to her whenever possible since his muster into the regiment. This last contribution to her existence was made in person during the visit to her house during his furlough.

At the conclusion there is a discussion of a likeness. A likeness refers to a Civil War era photograph. He comments about sending both a diary and one of two likeness home for safe keeping “if” he should ever return.


U.S General Hospital
Newark, (New Jersey)
November 30th 1863

Dear Sister,

I feel to thank my father in heaven that he has let his spirit strive with you until you have been constrained to give your heart to him. Dear Sister, we will have a cross to bear if we will have a crown to wear. Look to Jesus for strength - to follow him. Never give up until you know that God for Christ’s sake has forgiven your sins. - That you are born again. Read your bible much be in prayer, often watch your outward conduct that you may be an instrument to the doctrine (what) you profess. Watch your inward thoughts that the enemy of all righteousness leads you not astray. We are not able to resist the evil one in our own strength but Jesus conquered and we may conquer in his name – Be not a shamed of Jesus before men that he may not be a shamed of you before his father and the holy angels –

Dear Sister you say pray for you. I have been praying for you. When I began I do not know but for the last two years since God for Christ’s sake (I believe) forgave me my sins it has been the desire of my heart. That God would save you from the evil of this world and enable to become one of his children –

Sister you say that you cannot be happy until you get Religion - no sister what the world calls happiness, if we could find it, would soon leave us or we should leave that. But Religion gives us joy here and prepares (us) for a heaven of joy hereafter. We have our trials and sorrows but Religion supports us in them. And in God’s word we have great and precious promises

Sister you say that you are going to leave the pleasures of the world behind. Yes sister we must leave the sinful pleasures of the world behind and seek our pleasures - in heavenly things. And if we live near to god we shall find them.

Dear Sister if I could understand your letter you are married. Why did you not write more particularly where you were married, when and by who (?) And you say in the same letter that Pa says that he don’t believe that you and Jerry calculate to get married - as though you were not married – When you write explain it to me.

Dear Sister I am sorry that one of those bills is bad. I think it’s strange that it should be – But I know where I got all the money that I had when I was at your house. I want you to take the bill and write the bank, it is on the place where the bank is, the state, the number of the bill who is the cashier and president on a piece of paper or as much of it as you can make out and send it to me. Also if there is any mark on the back of the bill and what it is if any. Then send me the description of the bill – Then mark the bill on the back so you will know it – Enclose the bill in an envelope and send it to Henry R Hill, Big Brook, Oneida CO. NY and write in the letter to him that you received the bill from me and I will direct him about it in a letter. Do it as soon as you can conveniently.

Sister you must excuse my directing this letter in your old name if you have changed it. For you wrote it so in distinct I cannot be curtain. When I last wrote to you I was expecting to leave. I am still expecting to leave here but I want you to try to answer this before I go away from here. I believe that I have not told you that I answered Jerry’s letter today. I have written one to Henry Hill since I commenced this. Write and send it the first chance. Direct 11 ward, the rest as before.

From your Brother Hervey

P.S. I have two likenesses of you one of which I shall send to you to keep for me and my diary book by mail. I want you to keep them for me so that I can have them if I return home again. I shall not send them unless I leave here. I do not think so that if you receive them you need not direct any more letters to me here but wait until I (w)rite. But, I am in hopes that you will have time before I leave here. I shall not forbid you to read (the) diary if you wish to but I did not write it to be read.

From you 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

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