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Category “Supporting Documents”

The End of the Cyrus Forwood Project

Tuesday, 15 July, 2014

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.

The Bloody Angle

Monday, 12 May, 2014

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

Wednesday, 3 July, 2013

 

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

Tuesday, 2 July, 2013

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.

 

March 23, 1863: Death of Gen. Sumner

Saturday, 23 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day. Drill in Bayonet exercise. Dress Parade. Regt. officially notified of the death of Gen. Sumner.

See the scanned diary page.

More Information:
The March 24, 1863, edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman ran the following notice about the death of General E. V. Sumner:

 

Major-General E.V. Sumner died at Syracuse, N.Y., on Saturday, of congestion of the lungs [pneumonia], after a very brief illness. General Sumner was born in Boston in 1796. He was not a graduate of West Point. No man in the army has seen more service than this gallant officer. He was attached to the army of the Potomac, and was in all the bloody battles fought by that army. Upon Gen. Hooker’s appointment to the chief command, Sumner was relieved at his own request, and had just been appointed to the command of the Missouri Department when his death occurred. He entered the regular army as Second Lieutenant in 1819. He served in the Indian war and also in Mexico. He was severely wounded at Corro Gordo, and for gallant conduct in that battle was brevetted Lieutenant Colonel. He was military Governor of New Mexico in 1852 and in 1836 commanded in Kansas. In 1859 he was appointed commander of the Department of the West, in 1861 he was selected and sent to California to relieve Gen. A.S. Johnson in that department, in consequence of the resignation of the latter. Gen. Sumner was ordered, at his own request, from California, for service in the east. Under Gen. McClellan his corps was one of the most active and reliable. He was selected by General Scott to accompany Mr. Lincoln from Springfield, Ill. to Washington, in February, 1861, and on March 16th was appointed Brigadier-General in the regular army, in place of General Twiggs.

March 17, 1863: Steeple Chase

Sunday, 17 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Cool and cloudy in the morning. toward noon the sun shown warm. a Steeple Chase took place on the Division Parade Ground. got up by Gen. Meagher.

Hurdles were erected and Ditches dug.

several accidents occurred.

Col. Stricker thought he could jump his horse over one of the ditches. he tried it and was thrown into the ditch. his horse tumbled in after him.

One horse was killed and his rider injured.

At 3 P.M. heavy firing was heard which proved to be at Kellys Ford. all the men were ordered back to camp.

See the scanned diary pages 59 and 60.

More Information:
A steeplechase is a horse race. Typically between two and four miles, the race features obstacles like stone walls, water jumps, brush fences, and timber rails that the horses and their riders must clear. The event was part of a larger celebration organized in camp on St. Patrick’s Day, that included foot races, sack races, mule races, boxing matches, and plenty of food and drink.

The March 20, 1863 edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman reported that a cavalry fight on the Rappahannock near Kelly’s Ford took place on Tuesday, March 17. That “cavalry fight” became known as the Battle of Kelly’s Ford, one of the earlier large-scale cavalry fights in Virginia. 2100 Union cavalry troops under the command of Brig. Gen. William W. Averill of New York crossed the Rappahannock in Culpepper County, Virginia to attack the Confederate cavalry of about 800 men under the command of Brig. Gen. Fitzhugh Lee. The Federal attack was a result of General Hooker’s emphasis on cavalry training during the winter of 1863 following the disastrous Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862 and the “Mud March” January 1863. Although Averill withdrew his troops before completely destroying Lee’s forces, it was the first time the Union cavalry held their own against Confederate cavalry. The battle provided the troops with confidence for their summer campaigns.

Sources:
Delaware State Journal and Statesman, National Park Service Battle Summary: Kelly’s Ford, Virginia, Chancellorsville by Stephen W. Sears.

March 16, 1863: Lt. Tom Moore Returned

Saturday, 16 March, 2013

Diary Entry:
Pleasant day.

Lt. Tom Moore Co. G. returned to Regt. after absence without leave since Sep. 17th.

See the scanned diary page.

More Information:

On March 10, 1863, the Union government enacted a plan that granted amnesty to all soldiers who had deserted and who returned to camps by April 1. Although the plan was intended to bring the record number of soldiers who deserted following the Battle of Fredericksburg back to camps without fear of punishment or deadly consequences, other soldiers like Lieut. Tom Moore certainly also benefited.

The March 17, 1863 edition of the Delaware State Journal and Statesman included President Lincoln’s “Proclamation Respecting Soldiers Absent Without Leave”:

. . . I, Abraham Lincoln, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, do hereby order and command that all soldiers enlisted or drafted into the service of the United States, now absent from their regiments without leave, shall forthwith return to their respective regiments.

And I do hereby declare and proclaim that all soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave, who shall, on or before the first day of April, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, report themselves at any rendezvous designated by the General Orders of the War Department number fifty-eight, hereto annexed, may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence; and all who do not return within the time above specified shall be arrested as deserters, and punished as the law provides. . . .

 

February 19, 1863: Fresh Bread

Tuesday, 19 February, 2013

Diary Entry:
Dull day. heavy rain last night. our Brigade now Pickets below Falmouth. previous to last week we Picketed above the town.

Since Gen. Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac, fresh bread four times a week, beef four times, and vegetables three times are issued to us. he makes it the duty of the Surgeons to report the number of times they are issued.

See the scanned diary page.

More Information:
After General Hooker took command of the Army of the Potomac in late-January 1863, he instituted a series of changes to improve the morale of troops. Changes included establishing an innovative intelligence system, instituting generous furloughs, making troops drill, and as Cyrus noted, improving rations, medical care, and living conditions of the soldiers. In General Order Number 9, issued on February 7, 1863, he ordered:

Flour or soft bread will be issued at the depots to commissaries for at least four issues to the troops. Fresh potatoes or onions, if practicable, for two issues per week. Desiccated mixed vegetables or potatoes for one issue per week.

Commanders of army corps, division, brigades and separate commands will require any commissary under their orders who fails to issue the above-named stores to the command to which he is attached, and as often as stated, to produce the written statement of the officer in charge of the dept from which he regularly draws his supplies to the effect that they were not on hand at the depot for issue to him, or otherwise to satisfactorily account for his failure.

by command of Major-General Hooker:
Jos. Dickinson,
Assistant Adjutant-General
General Orders, Headquartes Army of the Potomac

 

Sources: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation fo the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Vol XXV and “Intent of Major General Joseph Hooker during the Chancellorsville Campaign” by Major William M. Jurney.

January 24, 1863: Two Months Pay

Thursday, 24 January, 2013

Diary Entry:
Troops still passing to the let to return to their old positions, yesterday the Rebs across the river stuck up a board with the words “Burnside Stuck in Mud” in large letters. The storm that caused the mud prolonged the lives of many of them as well as many of our own men.

This afternoon our Paymaster Major Potter paid us two months pay from the 31st of August to the 31st of October 1862.

I received $34.00.

The mails have been very irregular. I have not received any letters since the 1st inst. and do not know whether the letters I have sent lately reached their destination or not and there being no other means of sending money home that I know of now, I do not think it will be safe to send it at all.

See the scanned diary pages 47 and 48.

More Information:

On January 17, 1863, President Lincoln signed a joint resolution to “provide for the immediate payment of the army and navy of the United States.” The joint resolution stated:

My approval is given in order that every possible facility may be afforded for the prompt discharge of all arrears of pay due to our soldiers and our sailors. While giving this approval, however, I think it is my duty to express my sincere regret that it has been found necessary so large an additional issue of United States notes, when the circulation, and that of the suspended banks together, have become already so redundant as to increase prices beyond real value, thereby augmenting the cost of living to the injury of labor and the cost of supplies to the injury of the whole country. . . . By such measures, in my opinion, will payment be most certainly secured, not only to the army and navy but to all honest creditors of the Government, and satisfactory provisions made for future demands on the Treasury.

The Delaware State Journal and Statesman printed the president’s message to Congress in its January 23 issue.

January 22, 1863: Attack Abandoned

Tuesday, 22 January, 2013

Diary Entry:
Day before yesterday a great many troops were moving to the right. An attack was to be made there, but at night a heavy rain set in which continued until to day.  so much rain has fallen and the roads have become so bad that the attack has had to be abandoned. The troops have been moving back to their old position in front of Fredericksburg. I am very thankful that we have been permitted to remain in Camp. There is a report afloat that Gen. Burnside has lost confidence in our Corps, that he says we are completely demoralized. On the other hand the Corps has but little confidence in him, yet if taken into battle it will not disgrace its old name and fame.

I sincerely hope that he may prove successful in the next attempt. If he is, confidence in him will be restored.

See the scanned diary pages 46 and 47.

More Information:
General Burnside planned to launch another attack on General Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia in late December. The rumor Cyrus referred to about Burnside losing confidence in the troops most likely started after Brig. Generals John Newton and John Cochrane traveled to Washington, D.C. in early January, and spoke with Secretary of War Seward and President Lincoln about their concerns relating to Burnside’s ability to successfully lead the Army of the Potomac. After that meeting, Lincoln met with General Burnside and told him that two of his officers had expressed concerns for Burnside’s plans for a winter attack and the deteriorating condition of the Army. Burnside suggested those officers be court-marshaled, but felt that if Lincoln agreed with them, perhaps he should resign from his position. Burnside returned to Fredericksburg still planning a winter campaign, albeit it a scaled-down one.

The new battle plan was for the troops to cross the Rappahannock upstream from the Confederates on January 20 and circle behind them, thus surprising them. Up until that point, January had been fairly mild, but a Nor’Easter moved up the coast January 20 and 21, 1863. Rain fell for over 30 hours of rain, dropping over 3 inches of rain in Washington, D.C. over those two days. Artillery and cavalry forces soon became so swamped in the mud that  Burnside ordered the troops back to their quarters, ending the campaign before it ever really began.

Winter Campaigning. The Army of the Potomac on the Move
Drawn by Alfred Waud. January 21, 1863
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Sources: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, “The Mud March Begins” on the Massachusetts 150 Sesquicentennial Commission of the American Civil War website, The Civil War by Bruce Catton, and The History of the First Regiment, Delaware Volunteers by William P. Seville