|Unit History Project|
The Civil War Letters Of
Editor's Note:In late November Charles writes from Newark, New Jersey to his sister Laura concerning a recent furlough. In an earlier November letter there is no mention of their meeting during his visit home. Rather, that letter mentions neighbors, friends, stage coaches and rail schedules but nothing concerning immediate family. For some reason it is not until this second letter that he expresses any reaction concerning time spent with his own family. There are two possible explanations. Either, there were separate furloughs and it was not until the second that they were to meet or something happened during his only furlough home that caused him initially not to mention their meeting.
In this letter Charles does write about his impressions of “Jerry” who is obviously connected with Laura. It is not too difficult to imagine that this new personality in the family mix might have caused at least an unspoken difficulty. Could Jerry’s presence possibly explain why there was no discussion of their meeting in his earlier November letter? It is unfair to make assumptions concerning people and relationships that lived so long ago. However, this letter gives a real glimpse into the strong spiritual connection that Charles and Laura had developed. No doubt he depended on it as an important element of his positive attitude during convalescence.
One thing is crystal clear. A year after being severely wounding at Antietam, Charles does not know if he will be sent home, placed in the Invalid Corps or returned to his regiment and his fellow soldiers from Boonville.
US General Hospital,
Being tired and lonesome and nothing to do I thought that I would write a few lines to you. I wrote about all the news when I wrote before. After I left you that morning I rode and walked until near fish creek bridge. I told Pa that I thought that I would try and go farther so I bid him good by and Jerry and I walked as fast as we could handily until we got most to the Belcher Road when I gave out and made up my mind that I had got to go slow whether I was in time for the stage or not. But I was in time after all –
Jerry and I got a pretty good start towards getting acquainted for the short time we were together. And I have seen few boys that I liked better than I did him on so short an acquaintance. Not that I deem him perfect for I thought I saw a shadow which I hope may be hid by his many virtues which I believe him to posses – We all have our faults and we may see them in those that we love dearest and first. I have mine and we all if we examine our own hearts will find much that we should fight against. Let us take the bible for the book of our council and follow its precepts. I read the first Chapter of John today. What chapter did you read? I want to (k)now if we are keeping together in our readings.
I have been interrupted twice since I commenced writing once for examination and for dinner. We that were on furloughs were examined. Some are going to be discharged some are put in the invalid corps and some are going to their regiments. I suppose that you are anxious to know what they are going to do with me but I cannot tell you for (I) do not know. Yesterday I thought that I might be discharged, today I think that I might be sent to my Regiment. I do not think that I am able to do duty yet and I fear that I never shall be as well as (I am) (sup)posed to be. I realize that I am in higher hands than the Doctors and I hope that I may be able to put my trust in God and do my duty where ever I may be placed. I feel that I need his care and protection whether I remain here or go home or to my regiment. I hope that I may be able to say his will not mine be done –
Dear Sister how I have hoped to hear that you had given your heart to God and made up your mind to live for God and for heaven. How I wish that I could be with you all the while but I should want you to do different sometimes from what you would want to do and your love might grow cold towards me perhaps if we were together all the time – It was a painful hour to me when we were at the party but when you came and sat down by me I felt that you loved me to give up the party at my request. Perhaps you thought that I was asking to much but I felt that I could not stay and you do not now how hard it would have been for me to have left you there –
Give my respects to any that may inquire about me but I reserve my love for yourself.
From your Brother Hervey
P.S. Write soon direct as before. I have written one letter before this to you and one to Jerry. Jerry gave me his likeness of you. I think it a good one but in my hurry in coming a way I forgot to pay him for it. But I have written and told him how it was. Perhaps he thought it rather strange at the time. I have not been paid off since I came back. I expected that I should have been. But if I need money I have a friend that offered to lend me half he had without my asking him for any. So I guess I can get along.
Love to all the Folks and yourself in particular
Charles H. Hayden
New York State Division of Military and Naval Affairs: Military History