2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery - Killed at Cold Harbor - NEW
June 9, 1863
Lyman J. Smith Jr.
6 pages, original Civil War Union letter written in period ink and war dated.
Redoubt (A) near Ft. Lyon
June 9th 1863
It has been some time since I have received a letter from you. The last one was from Nealie about a week ago. I see by the Enquirer that Father has been appointed enrolling officer. Does it not interfere with his farm work or is the pay good enough to balance it? How does he get along without help? It has been so dry here that the prospect for crops is poor. We have had scarcely any rain for six weeks. How has it been with you? How much corn has Pa planted and where is it? Does he intend to cut Miss Denning’s grass this year? I am afraid he will undertake more than he can do. I wish I could be there to help him but it is impossible. I think we shall have to stay our full term of enlistment which is only two years and three months. Consoling isn’t it?
I went up to see Ed a few days ago. He is well. Has he sent you any photographs? He has some. There has been a detail for several days at work in Alexandria building stockades. They have been fencing in the Commissary Department to guard against a “raid”. They have been expecting one for some time but I think they are more scared than hurt. Though there may be some danger. There has been a terrible accident at Fort Lyon this afternoon. While the men were out putting new powder into some shell by some means one of them exploded, setting off the other. About a hundred one of them went through the door of the magazine which blew up, making a noise ten times worse than cannon or thunder. I never saw the like before. The air was completely filled with shells bursting timbers, stones, earth, men and every thing else, the men, some of them, were literally blown to atoms. The air was filled with everything that it was impossible to see for a time. There were twenty-three men killed and I don’t know how many wounded. The Lieutenant in charge was killed. His wife and child are down here. She was hurt some. The shells, some of them, were thrown to Alexandria about two miles. One of them was thrown about a quarter of a mile and took a man’s leg off.
To close up on, I will inform you that I am under arrest. I suppose you will think that is an awful thing but it is not, so don’t worry. There are four of us and put under arrest by a corporal and the meanest, lowest man in the company who has not a friend in the company (Corp. Cables). I don’t suppose you know him. He had a grudge against us so took his revenge in this way.
Our detail went to work on Fort Hooker about a mile from here. There was no officer to report to so we concluded we would not work until one came. Corporal Cables was in command of the squad. Four of us went down and sat by a spring till the officer came. Then went to work. That is all there is to it. When we came back, he reported us and the charges are refusing to do duty and disrespect to superior officer. “Big thing” isn’t it? The man if he can be called so, for he is not fit to live with brutes, is a pretty specimen to be over white men.
Write soon. Your affectionate son, Lyman.