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    Civil War Archive of William Lyman Hyde, Chaplain, 112th New York Volunteer Infantry. An extensive and remarkable archive consisting of 76 Civil War letters, including 74 letters to his wife Elizabeth, dating from June 26, 1863 to June 11, 1865, and other documents, including 1) an autograph manuscript entitled "Chaplains Journal of daily Labors & Experiences in the service of God and our country during the rebellion in connection with the 112 th Regt. N.Y.S.V.", 7.75" x 9.5", 16 pages, covering the period September 11, 1863 to September 28, 1863; 2) an autograph manuscript "Journal from April 21.1864 to June 12th [1864]", 8" x 9.75", 28 pages; 3) an autograph manuscript "Journal from August 10 th 1864 to Sept. 29th [1864]", 8" x 9.75", 24 pages. 4) an autograph manuscript journal, September 29, 1864 to December 6, 1864, 8" x 9.75", 24 pages. 5) an autograph manuscript journal, December 7, 1864 to March 13, 1865, 8" x 9.75", 24 pages. 6) an autograph manuscript journal, March 20, 1865 to March 30, 1865, 8" x 9.75", 4 pages. 7) a drawing (in ink and pencil) of fortifications at Suffolk, Virginia, [circa 1862], 7.5" x 4.25, 1 sheet (both sides). 8) an autograph manuscript journal, September 12, 1862 to June 23, 1864, 8" x 9.75", 22 pages (brief entries, many gaps). 9) a manuscript circular concerning President Andrew Johnson's appointing June 1, 1865 as a day of humiliation and mourning, June 1, 1865, 7.75" x 9.75", 1 page. 10) an autograph manuscript signed, "Chaplains Monthly Report 112 th Reg. N.Y. Vols", March 1865, 8" x 9.75", 2 pages (with typed transcription). 11) an autograph manuscript signed, "Chaplains Monthly Report", [April 1865], May 1, 1865, 7.75" x 9.75", 2 pages (with typed transcription). 12) an autograph manuscript, "Mortuary List of...112 th N.Y.V.", [1862-1865], 8" x 9.75", 20 pages (one side only, with 3 blank). 13) Miscellaneous documents. 14) a group of postwar letters and cancelled postal covers with personal content. 15) a computer printout of Hyde's History of the One Hundred and Twelfth Regiment N.Y. Volunteers, which was originally published in 1866.

    The first letter in the archive is written from Suffolk, Virginia, dated June 26, 1863, where the 112th New York Volunteer Infantry was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 7th Army Corps. Like all of Hyde's letters to his wife, this one describes the daily routines of camp life, the weather, his health, and military matters. In a letter to his wife on July 11, Hyde wrote from camp near Yorktown, Virginia, about the long grueling marches his regiment made. "I am glad to say that our regiment has had no man drop down dead but to see the feet of some of our boys and to have seen them on the march would make your head ache. I hear that 16 men dropped dead during the march yesterday. Two ambulance horses dropped dead. Yesterday we marched 11 miles in a drenching rain, all the way & lay down in an open field without supper except one hard cracker & a little coffee."

    There is a gap in Hyde's letters from July 23, 1863 to May 26, 1864, at which time his regiment is about to participate in the battles around Cold Harbor and begin the siege of Petersburg. During this time and into June 1864, Hyde was sick with dysentery, influenza, and fever, while trying to minister to the dying, sick, and convalescents. In a July 9 letter, Hyde referred to his recent illness, as well as the extreme heat and dryness of the weather near Petersburg, and described what it was like to spend time in a rifle pit. "No one can conceive how terrible it is to spend 2 or 3 days in succession in those rifle pits. A man sweats as he lies down, like rain, no breath of air visits him, and he must keep his head in about the same position, if he raises his head above the breastwork he drops. If he in not careful how he goes out...he finds a bullet or a shell crossing his path. He has to lie and sweat & ache all night long the whistling of shot or the crushing of shell keep him feverish and excited and deprive him of sleep." On August 4, Hyde wrote his wife that his camp had moved away from Petersburg closer to Richmond, which provided some relief from the "incessant" cannonading. "The musketry firing also was continuous and I could never visit the regiment at the front with out having the unpleasant sensation of a bullet humming side of my head or knocking the dirt off the parapet into my face to say nothing of a shell...bursting and raising the dust generally.... in front of Petersburg was the severest...constant exposure in the trenches boiled with heat by day and no sleep at night. In peril going in & coming out." In early August, Hyde was pleased to report to his wife of the Union victory at the Battle of Mobile Bay, but this did not change his negative views of black soldiers and of Lincoln. In an August 19 letter he wrote that it was "very unjust to the army in the field to fill their thinned ranks with undisciplined negros. It is degrading to them. The negro is not the equal of the white man at present...I am not certain that I shall vote for Lincoln. I am disgusted with the administration. Yet I shall vote for no copperhead. Unless the soldiers are soon paid Lincoln will not get a corporals guard to vote for him." Hyde submitted a chaplain's report to General Lorenzo Thomas on September 1, in which he described an August 25 engagement between his regiment and Confederate soldiers at earthworks outside of Petersburg. On that morning "the enemy broke the long quiet on our front, dashed upon our picket line effecting then a temporary lodgment from which however they were soon compelled to fall back. In the struggle our Regiment lost fifteen (15) men taken prisoners, and one commissioned officer...killed."

    General Phil Sheridan's success in the Shenandoah Valley, following the recent capture of Atlanta by General Sherman's Army, and Hyde was confident in General Grant's campaign. On October 1, Hyde describes action at the Battle of Chaffin's Farm and New Market Heights, which occurred on September 28-30: "Part of our force became engaged about 9 AM and the action became general soon after noon. Our regiment were in two charges. The first we carried strong works with little loss. The second charge was terrible and our loss fearful.... We have lost 44 men wounded 18 missing 4 killed. Maj. Ludwick was shot twice in the same right arm & it is amputated just above the elbow. Lieut. Kimberly lost his left foot. I held both while they were cut off and was well sputtered with their blood."

    From November 3-17, Hyde's regiment was on duty at Staten Island, New York, during the 1864 presidential election. By this time, Hyde's view of Lincoln had changed significantly. In a November 12 letter, he wrote, "Are you not elated at the results of the election, and such a large popular majority for Lincoln. There is now no reason why the most vigorous efforts should not be used to suppress the rebellion. Mr. Lincoln's modest speech at the congratulatory visit has raised him immensely in my estimation. He is a good man." By the end of the year, Hyde and his regiment participated in the first Fort Fisher expedition, which was aborted by General Benjamin Butler. The regiment participated in the assault and capture of the fort in early January 1865, but Hyde did not accompany them, staying at Fort Monroe in Virginia. In a January 18 letter to his wife, Hyde wrote of the news of his regiment in the assault. "We have had a telegram...that our forces captured Fort Fisher by storm, and that we had... as prisoners...1,000 men of the garrison. It was I imagine a magnificent affair and reflects great credit upon those engaged in it. But I am harrowed with anxiety about the Regiment. We know that all the Brigade commanders in our Division are wounded.... The telegram says our losses were not large. But, if, as I hear...our brigade stood the brunt of the battle and met with the heaviest loss and I am confident that our Regiment must have been sadly cut up." The regiment ended up losing 11 killed and 36 wounded.

    Hyde's regiment participated in the capture of Wilmington, North Carolina, on February 22, 1865. In March and April, the regiment was involved in the Campaign of the Carolinas, the final campaign conducted by the Union Army in the Civil War. In a March 12 letter, Hyde rejoiced at the "constant inflowing of good news. Early captured in the Valley and Sherman moving on with resistless fervor from the South.... Lee will soon be hemmed in and if his troops behave as bad as they do in front of Richmond, he may wake up some morning to find himself without an army." On March 21, Union troops occupied Goldsboro, North Carolina, and on March 30, Hyde wrote his wife that he did not believe there is "much more of hard fighting. Sherman is now with Grant & the President at City Point. I think the Rebellion is pretty nearly played out." Hyde's next letter, dated April 27, referred to Confederate General Joseph E. Johnson's surrender the day before and President Lincoln's recent assassination. Stationed in Raleigh, captured by Union troops on April 14, Hyde reported that "we heard that Johnson was about to surrender. I guess he had not a very large and enthusiastic crowd to surrender, and concluded to run no risk. If there had been a fight, there would not have been many if any prisoners taken. The Army had made up its mind to exterminate as they went along. The death of the President has exasperated us to the utmost."

    Hyde's manuscript journals complement his letters. For example, in one of his manuscript journals (#2 above), Hyde provides detailed descriptions of the Battle of Drewry's Bluff or Proctor's Creek (May 14-16, 1864) and the Battle of Cold Harbor (May 31-June 12, 1864), the latter a bloody defeat for Grant's Union army. Hyde recounts the heavy fighting at Cold Harbor on June 1 in his journal: "As soon as the line was formed the order came to move forward, the battle had already opened, passing out of the skirt of woods we were to cross an open field 600 yards to another belt of woods in which the enemy had a heavy skirmish line; this they successfully accomplished, our regiment was so located as to have to transverse this field at its widest point and lost a few men...but after reaching the woods & driving the enemy back to their first line of works...they charged toward these....Soon the works were carried on our front but beyond our line on the right, the nature of the ground was such, that we were subjected to a galling cross fire from a position...in the hands of the enemy....The great loss in the regiment occurred after gaining these works both from the cross fire of the enemy...also from a second line of works still in advance. These works were attempted but not carried at this time. We held possession of the works we had taken until drawing off by command.... The loss of the regiment were at this time very heavy 153 killed wounded & missing."

    Condition: The letters have the usual folds, but otherwise they and the other items in the collection are in good condition.


    More Information: William Lyman Hyde (1819-1896) was born in Bath, Sagadahoc County, Maine, to Henry and Maria (Hyde) Hyde (third cousin to Henry). After attending public schools in Bath, Hyde taught for three years at a military and classical school in Ellsworth, Maine, before entering a program of theological study at Bangor Seminary, graduating in 1848. The following year, Hyde began a seven-year tenure as a minister at Gardner, Maine, and later was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Dunkirk, New York, for a number of years. On May 4, 1852 he wed Elizabeth Rice, daughter of Warren and Mary Webster of Wiscasset, Maine. Hyde resigned his ministry in 1862 to serve as Chaplain of the 112th New York Infantry, a position he held until the end of the Civil War. After the war, Hyde served as a pastor in Ripley and in Sherman, New York, until 1874, when he became principal of the Ovid (New York) Academy and Union School. In 1884, Hyde moved to Jamestown, New York, where he was associated with the Jamestown Journal, of which his son was an editor. In 1866, Hyde published a book, History of the One Hundred and Twelfth Regiment N.Y. Volunteers. He died in Jamestown.

    The 112th New York Volunteer Infantry was organized at Jamestown, New York, and mustered in for three years-service on September 11, 1862. The Regiment participated in 16 battles, including Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Chaffin's Farm, Fair Oaks and Darbytown Road, Fort Fisher, and the Carolinas Campaign. The 112th New York Infantry mustered out of service June 13, 1865.


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