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 with what was probably dysentery in July 1862, he was transported from Harrison’s Landing, Virginia, to Point Lookout, Maryland, by steamer ship. We learned of his frustrationswith 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.