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Category “Diary Entry”

A Good Soldier and Most Estimable Young Man

Thursday, 15 May, 2014

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

Diary Wrap-Up

Friday, 19 April, 2013

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

Thursday, 11 April, 2013

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

Sunday, 31 March, 2013

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

Saturday, 30 March, 2013

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

See the scanned diary page.

March 29, 1863: Cold Wind, Cloudy Day

Friday, 29 March, 2013

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

See the scanned diary entry.

March 28, 1863: Rain & Dress Parade

Thursday, 28 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Rain. Dress Parade.

See scanned diary page.

March 27, 1863: Inspection by Capt. Little

Wednesday, 27 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day. Inspection by Cap. Little, one of Zook’s staff.

Skirmish drill. Dress Parade.

See the scanned diary entry.

March 26, 1863: Pleasant Evening

Tuesday, 26 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Rain in morning. Pleasant evening. Skirmish drill.

See the scanned diary page.

March 25, 1863: Skirmish Drill

Monday, 25 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day. Comp. drill. Skirmish drill by overgrown boy. Dress parade.

See the scanned diary page.