1863: Hiram T. Smith to his Mother


This letter was written by Hiram T. Smith (1823-Aft1880) of Elmira who enlisted in Co. E, 23rd New York Infantry, in May 1861. He mustered in as a quartermaster sergeant and mustered out as a 2d Lieutenant after two years of service. In May 1863, he received the commission of 1st Lieutenant when Hugh Jenkins Baldwin was promoted to Captain of Co. E.

in 1849, Hiram was married to Julina A. Wisner in Southport, Chemung county, New York.


Fredericksburg, [Virginia]
May 24 [1863]

Dear Mother,

I received your welcome letter of May 17 while I was out on picket for the first time in my new position. We were out 48 hours with our whole company except Baldwin, the first lieutenant. We had an alarm the first night but it proved to be only the rebels driving in our videttes. A good many shots were fired. The captain being off on the outpost, I quickly formed the company for the first time and marched them out on a double quick to the relief of the cavalry. But when we came in sight, they fired and ran back to their reserve. No one hurt.

My commission arrived last week. I am still a member of Col. Hoffman’s 23rd Regiment and it is to him I owe my present position. And it will be my aim never to make him ashamed of his recommend. I have a good deal to learn as my former place was of a purely business character, and I flatter myself that I filled it with credit to myself and friends. And it shall be my aim to so fill my present one.

I have been troubled with headache and pains in my back denoting fever but blue pills and salts have nearly removed them. We shall probably move from here on Monday as we are all ready. Our troops are very healthy and anxious to move. You may direct to me, Co. E, 23rd Regiment N. Y. Vols., Washington D. C.

It has been raining today and the weather is cool and pleasant. This is the finest part of Virginia I have seen and the finest wheat growing country I have ever seen. The spring is backwards here although clover is in full bloom and corn large enough to hoe.

Yours truly, — Hiram T. Smith


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