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The End of the Cyrus Forwood Project

In early July 1864, the remaining members of the Second Delaware returned to Wilmington to muster out at the end of their three year term of service. Therefore, we have chosen July 2014 to mark the end of this blogging project. We began the Cyrus Forwood: Diary of a Delaware Soldier in the American Civil War blog in May 2011, 150 years to the day after Cyrus Forwood volunteered to become part of Company A of the Second Delaware Volunteer Infantry Regiment. The project was a joint venture between the Delaware Public Archives and the Delaware Government Information Center (GIC).

The goal of the Cyrus Project, as we came to call it at DPA, was to provide insight into the life of a Delaware soldier in the Civil War by sharing entries from Cyrus’ diary. Since relatively few contemporary records survived from other Delaware soldiers, his recorded thoughts are quite valuable for researchers.

Content for the blog drew on Civil War resources found at the Delaware Public Archives—namely the diary of Cyrus Forwood, a transcription of the diary that was created and donated by Russ Smith, and the Delaware Compiled Service Records. Because there were times when Cyrus did not write much in his diary, we also gleaned contemporary Delaware newspapers for content that would help provide context for the events of the war and daily life in Wilmington during the 1860s. To further illustrate the experiences of the Second Delaware, we created a Google Map to follow the movements of the regiment throughout the war.

Cyrus was born and raised on a farm in Brandywine Hundred in northern Delaware and he kept a diary during the first few years of his service. Cyrus’ diary entries capture the tedium of the daily life of a soldier. He also wrote about the frequency with which illnesses struck the troops, his frustrations with obtaining medical care, and the excitement and trepidation that came with a battle. The diary ends at the end of March 1863, at which point he probably began writing in another diary that hasn’t been discovered yet.

Towards the end of our blogging project, we learned that Cyrus was also a prolific letter-writer and many of the letters that he had sent to his parents and sisters survived the war. The letters were loaned to the Delaware Historical Society for duplication by their owner in the 1960s and they can still be accessed there.

These letters and the trail created by his service records were proof that Cyrus continued serving with the Second Delaware after March 1863. He was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Gettysburg in early July 1863, died on May 15, 1864. Cyrus was 28 years old when he died of a wound received in battle on May 12 at the East Angle in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia.

Many of the materials that we used in this project have been digitized and are available on the Delaware Public Archives’ website. We always welcome researchers interested in learning more about Delaware in the Civil War to visit us in person at the Delaware Public Archives.

Thank you for following Cyrus’ Civil War journey during the past three years.

A Good Soldier and Most Estimable Young Man

In the pending battles Delaware’s brave sons are and have been in the forefront of danger, and where the conflict rages most fearfully, there may be found the wounded, the dying and the dead heroes of our loyal and patriotic little Commonwealth.

These lines ran in the Delaware State Journal and Statesman one day after the events at the “Bloody Angle” during the Battle of Spotsylvania, hours after the fighting there had ended.

152,000 soldiers fought in the Battle of Spotsylvania between May 8 and 21, and approximately 30,000 of them were killed, wounded, or captured. Unfortunately, Cyrus Forwood was one of the 18,000 Union casualties. Cyrus’ military discharge papers noted that he died on May 15 from wounds sustained on May 12, 1864, just weeks before the end of his three-year term of service.


(Click image to enlarge)

The June 3, 1864, edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman included the following notice of his death, which provides more details into the nature of his fatal wound, as well as a note about his character:

deathCyrus H. Forwood, son of Sam’l Forwood, of Brandywine Hundred, who belonged to the Second Delaware Regiment, was shot through the bowels in the battle of the Wilderness, and died in two or three days afterwards in the hospital tent, near the battle ground. –He had served two years and eleven months, was a good soldier, and a most estimable young man.


When he died, Cyrus was only 28 years old (Census records show he was born in 1836), he left behind two sisters, Emily and Caroline, and his parents, all of whom were still living in Delaware.

On June 28, 1864, the Delaware State Journal and Statesman printed a story about the return of the Second Delaware to Wilmington to be mustered out. A dinner was served for the remaining 40 men from Companies A and B, and this line was a part of Colonel Wilmer’s brief speech at that meal:

“To the absent and the lamented; the fallen heroes of the Second Delaware, cherished be their memory in the hearts of a grateful people.”

We at the Delaware Public Archives echo Colonel Wilmer’s remarks as we remember the life of Cyrus H. Forwood today.


Sources: Delaware State Journal and Statesman, Delaware Compiled Service Records, 1850 and 1860 U.S. Federal Census forms

The Bloody Angle

Cyrus wrote his last diary entry on March 31, 1863, while he and the Second Delaware were still in winter camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Considering the regularity with which he wrote in the diary, it is likely that he began a new one at that point, but it could have been lost or still remain in private hands. Thanks to military records and newspapers from the Civil War, we know that Cyrus and the Second Delaware continued serving after the diary ended. When we last posted in July 2013, we highlighted the roles the Second Delawareans played at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Following Gettysburg, the regiment continued on with the Army of the Potomac, pursuing General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to Manassas Gap. They fought in the Bristoe Campaign in October 1863 and in the Mine Run Campaign of late-November and early December 1863. They spent winter camp near Stevensburg, Virginia until early May, when Lieutenant General Grant began his Overland Campaign against General Lee with the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5-7, 1864.

The Wilderness was costly. Casualties were heavy on both sides and Grant ultimately withdrew his troops at the end of battle. Instead of retreating, Grant pressed his troops on towards the small town of Spotsylvania Court House with the goal of reaching it before the Confederates. The Confederates reached an open plateau two miles north of Spotsylvania Court House first, but by May 8, both armies were flooding the battlefield. Confederates built entrenchments–log and earth barricades with ditches behind them. The most famous one was known as the “Mule Shoe,” a salient or bulge in the Confederate defenses that extended out towards the Union Army. Grant looked for breaks in Lee’s defenses on May 9 and 10 without much luck. On May 11, Colonel Emory Upton from New York broke through a portion of the Mule Shoe with 12 regiments. They were eventually repulsed back to Union lines, but Upton’s attack led the way for the Union offensive the following day.

At dawn and in the rain on May 12, Grant ordered two companies to attack the Mule Shoe. They broke through the Confederate line, but because no one had planned how to capitalize on the breakthrough, Lee was able to stage a counter-offensive a bit to the west of the Mule Shoe at a slight bend in the earthworks. The bend came to be known as the “Bloody Angle.” This 200 yard stretch of earthworks was the scene of the longest sustained hand-to-hand fighting in the entire war. The battle raged on for 22 hours in the rain, and finally ended in the early morning hours of May 14 when overpowered Confederates fell back to form a new line.

12th May Hancock and Wright fighting for the enemies rifle pits sketched from Lundmans houseDrawn by Alfred Waud. May 12, 1864.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

 Fighting at Spotsylvania continued for a nearly a week. On May 20 and 21, Grant ordered the Union army to march south towards Guinea Station. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia followed, attempting to stay between the Federals and Richmond. At Spotsylvania between May 8 and 21, there were approximately 30,000 casualties: 18,000 Union and 12,000 Confederate.

The Second Delaware was not immune to casualties. Cyrus was severely wounded at the Bloody Angle and died a few days later. Lieutenant-Colonel David Stricker, who had recruited much of the regiment in 1861, was killed by a piece of shell. Captain John Evans was also killed. The Delaware State Journal and Statesman newspaper from May 24 included a death notice for Lieutenant Colonel Stricker:

 Death of Lieutenant-Colonel Stricker—The Dover Delawarean says: Lieut. Colonel D. L. Stricker, of the Second Delaware Volunteers, was killed in the battle near Spottsylvania Court House, Virginia, on Thursday the 12th, while leading the 53d Pennsylvania Regiment into action,–his own Regiment having been reduced to a very small number and attached to another organization. He was killed instantly by a piece of shell striking him in the side. . . .  Lieut. Colonel David L. Stricker was about 24 years of age, a native of New Jersey. . . .  Soon after the breaking out of the war, in company with the late Captain John Evans, he commenced recruiting company A., of the Second Regiment, and was elected to the Captaincy. He subsequently was advanced to the post of Major and then to Lieut. Colonel. . . .  He  commanded the regiment at the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. At the latter battle he was slightly wounded. Col. Stricker was much esteemed by a large circle of friends and acquaintances, and the news of his death cast a gloom over the whole community. He leaves a young wife, daughter of John B. Smith, Esq., to whom he was recently united, to mourn his sudden death.

The survivors of the Second Delaware, who were only about a month from mustering out, were attached to the First Delaware for the remainder of their service.


SourcesA Brief Account of the Services Rendered by the Second Regiment Delaware Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion by Robert G. Smith, “History of Wilderness and Spotsylvania” from the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park website, May 1864 editions of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman newspaper, Battle Summary: Spotsylvania

July 3, 1863: Cemetery Ridge


On July 3, the Second Delaware helped defend Cemetery Ridge just south of town in Ziegler’s Grove during Pickett’s Charge. A marker on the battlefield shows the Delawareans’ position line on the Bryan Farm (not far from the old Gettysburg Cyclorama and Visitors Center).




Skirmish line of 2nd Delaware on July 3, 1863. Photos by Jim Hall



In the two days of fighting, the Second Delaware lost nearly thirty-six percent of their total strength. 11 soldiers were killed, 61 were wounded, and 12 were reported missing. The Battle of Gettysburg was incredibly deadly with approximately 51,000 casualties between the Union and Confederate Armies. Cyrus himself was wounded on July 3 and the Delaware State Journal and Statesman reported he sustained an injury to his thigh. According to his Hospital Muster Roll, he was admitted into the U.S. General Hospital (Tilton Hospital) in Wilmington, Delaware, for treatment, on July 11, 1863. Cyrus’ wound was not so serious as to cause him to lose his leg; he returned to duty with the Second Delaware in September 1863. The Muster Roll is below:




Sources: Gettysburg National Military Park websiteDelaware Civil War Compiled Service Records, Delaware State Journal and Statesman newspaper from July 1863, A Brief Account of the Services Rendered by the Second Regiment Delaware Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion by Robert G. Smith.

July 2, 1863: Wheatfield and Rose Woods

With Cyrus’ diary coming to an end in March 1863, we do not know his personal experiences at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1-3, 1863. However, we do know that the Second Delaware fought in Gettysburg and that Cyrus was wounded there.

When we left the Second Delaware in March, they were still drilling at their camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia. They left camp in late April to fight in the Battle of Chancellorsville under the command of General Hooker. Following that Union defeat, they traveled through Virginia chasing the Confederates. They eventually found themselves in the south-central Pennsylvania crossroads town of Gettysburg on the evening of July 1, 1863, where Confederate General Robert E. Lee had concentrated the strength of the Army of Northern Virginia, hoping to destroy the Union Army and move farther into the North. Gettysburg ended Lee’s Northern Campaign and was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.

Intense fighting occurred in Devil’s Den, on Little Roundtop, Culp’s Hill, The Wheatfield, and in the Peach Orchard on July 2. The Second Delaware fought in The Wheatfield, a 20 acre field owned by the Rose Family. There they helped drive back Confederate troops from Kershaw’s South Carolina Brigade and they captured Confederate soldiers. A monument to the 2nd Delaware Infantry made of Brandywine blue stone from northern New Castle County was erected in 1885 and dedicated in 1886. Originally the monument stood in the middle of the Wheat Field, but it was moved to the in the Rose Woods on Brooke Avenue in Gettysburg in 1909 to mark the farthest point in the Woods reached by the regiment during the charge. At the end of the battle on July 2, The Wheatfield and Rose Woods were littered with over 4000 dead and wounded soldiers.


2nd Delaware Monument in Rose Woods

2nd Delaware Monument. Rose Woods, Gettysburg, PA. Photo credit: Jim Hall



Sources: Stone Sentinels website, Gettysburg National Military Park website, Delaware Civil War Compiled Service Records, History of Delaware: 1609-1888 by John Thomas Scharf, Delaware State Journal and Statesman newspaper from July 1863, A Brief Account of the Services Rendered by the Second Regiment Delaware Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion by Robert G. Smith.


Diary Wrap-Up

We’re continuing with our wrap-up of Cyrus Forwood’s diary project this week. As we wrote last week, Cyrus’ diary entries were typically short, but informative. Combined with contemporary sources like the Delaware State Journal and Statesman newspaper out of Wilmington, Delaware, and secondary source histories of various battles, we were able to learn where the Second Delaware traveled during the first few years of the war.

After Cyrus and his fellow soldiers mustered in Wilmington, Delaware, they trained at Camp Brandywine near Wilmington, during the summer of 1861 before traveling to the Eastern Shores of Maryland and Virginia, where they spent late-fall 1861 and most of the winter of 1862. In March 1862 they were transported to Camp Andrew in Baltimore, training again and waiting to be ordered to become part of the Peninsula Campaign of spring and early-summer 1862. The Fighting Blue Hens (a nickname they gained at the Battle of Antietam) fought in the Battle of Fair Oaks, as well as the Seven Days Battles of June and July 1862.

When Cyrus fell ill in July 1862, he was transported from Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, to Point Lookout, Maryland, by steamer ship. We learned of his frustrations with the hospital: sick men dying off quickly and being buried with little fanfare, meager rations, and finding himself sicker after a month of staying at the hospital than when he arrived. Once he recovered, he walked from Washington, D.C. to Sharpsburg, Maryland, a distance of nearly 70 miles, to try to catch up with Company A of the Second Delaware. He missed the Battle of Antietam by a day; when he was still several miles away he could hear the “roar of artillery”.

After the Battle of Antietam, the Army of the Potomac marched to Bolivar Heights, on the hills surrounding Harpers Ferry, (West) Virginia, to recover. November 1862 saw the Second Delaware marching through the Blue Ridge Mountains to reach Fredericksburg, Virginia. Following the Battle of Fredericksburg and the Mud March, he wrote with far more frequency; he wrote brief entries every day in March. His final entries recorded the weather and the organized camp activities that General Hooker instated in the winter camps of drills and dress parades to prepare the men for engagements that would come in the spring.

The Second Delaware continued fighting in battles through the end of the war. They saw action at the Battle of Chancellorsville in April 1863 before moving on to Gettysburg in early July. In the Fall of 1863, they fought at the Battles of Bristoe Station and Mine Run before going into winter camp. In May 1864, they were involved in the Battles of the Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse, a series of engagements near Spotsylvania, Virginia.

We appreciate you following along with this project for the past two years! Although the end of the diary marks the natural end to our project, we will continue blogging occasionally on the anniversaries of events that we know Cyrus participated in. Check back in July 2013 for a few posts on the Second Delaware’s role in the Battle of Gettysburg and to see how Cyrus and the Second Delaware fared during that battle. We know that Cyrus died in May 1864 at the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse in Virginia, and so we will also be posting in May 2014 to commemorate that battle and Cyrus’ life.

The End of the Diary

As we mentioned in our last post on March 31,  Cyrus’ diary ended on March 31, 1863. Perhaps he started writing in a new diary that has not survived or is still privately held, or maybe he decided to stop keeping a diary. Regardless, thanks to the regiment’s compiled service records, which are available online through the Delaware Public Archives, we know he continued serving with Company A of the Second Delaware through May 1864, when he was killed at the Bloody Angle in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia.

The Cyrus Forwood project began in Spring 2011 when the Delaware Public Archives, in conjunction with Delaware’s Government Information Center, endeavored to share the Civil War diary of Delaware’s own Cyrus F. Forwood with the public. As we followed Cyrus’ diary, posting the diary entries 150 years later to the day from when they were written, we used this blog, social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, and a Google Map to share the observations and notes that Cyrus recorded in his diary. Over the course of nearly two years, readers have been able to follow his travels and learn about the day-to-day life of a Delaware Soldier in the Civil War.

Cyrus initially mustered into Company A, Second Delaware Volunteers in Wilmington, Delaware, for a three-month term on June 12, 1861. He was a twenty-five year old farmer from the Brandywine Hundred section of New Castle County Delaware. We don’t have any pictures of Forwood in the holdings at the Delaware Public Archives, but we do know he was five feet, seven inches tall, had grey eyes and light hair and complexion. He lived on the family farm the Brandywine Hundred Section of New Castle County with his mother, father, and two sisters prior to joining the Second Delaware.

Most of Cyrus’ diary entries were matter-of-fact and to the point. He included notes on superior officers, camp life, and battles, but wrote very little in the way of his emotions or descriptions of battles. We don’t get a good idea of how he felt about the war or being away from family, but he did accurately record each time the Second Delaware moved camps or were engaged in battles.

Check back next week to learn what happened next for Cyrus and the Second Delaware through the rest of the war.

March 31, 1863: Lt. Tom Moore Resigned

Diary Entry:
Snow 4 in. deep this morning. Rain to day. Lt. Tom Moore has resigned. glad he is gone. hope all the nuisances will go soon.

See the scanned diary page.

More Information:
Lieut. Tom Moore had previously returned to camp on March 16, after being absent without leave from the regiment since September.

Although Cyrus continued to serve with the Second Delaware until May 1864, today marks the last entry in this diary. The rest of the pages in the diary list Majors and Generals who were in the Army as of May 1862, a comparison of soldiers’ pay between the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, a listing of officers of the 2nd Regiment, Delaware Volunteers, and a list of soldiers discharged for disability.

Please check back during the next few weeks as we discuss what we’ve learned about Cyrus’ experiences as a soldier during the first few years of the Civil War.

March 30, 1863: Ice

Diary Entry:
Ice 1/2 inch thick last night. Dress Parade.

See the scanned diary page.

March 29, 1863: Cold Wind, Cloudy Day

Diary Entry:
Cold wind. cloudy day. Inspection. Dress Parade.

See the scanned diary entry.