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.