SUBMITTED BY:  Willa Atkinson

My Great-Grandmother Elizabeth Knox Lanigan (1905-2005) preserved the letters that Lyman Beecher Hannaford wrote during his Civil War experience; she had them safely tucked away in a drawer for decades. The letters were given to her by her mother, Daisy Hannaford (Lyman’s daughter), in the 1960s. Daisy was in possession her father’s letters from after Lyman’s death in 1888 until she passed in 1966. Although there were many more letters, these four were written while Lyman Hannaford was stationed in North Carolina. [The complete collection of transcribed letters can be read at /2018/09/04/the-journey-begins/?fbclid=IwAR0WrI29AHBkfy4unT46ef1srQEazNqCaWwfnRJo-zbJlyXZJYrguaeK_og.]

About Lyman Beecher Hannaford

Lyman Beecher Hannaford (1841-1888) of Company D, 103rd Ohio Volunteer was from Solon, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. His older brother, William Foster Hannaford (1838-1891) also served in the same company. Lyman’s letters were addressed to his brother-in-law, Albert Milton Smith, who married Lyman’s sister, Minerva “Nerve” Hannaford. Lyman, William, and Minerva were the children of Reuben Morrill Hannaford (1800-1884) and Nancy Foster (1803-1858)—both natives of New Hampshire who settled in Ohio in the early 1830s. After his discharge from military service, Lyman returned home and married Mary Whinfield (1843-1937), of Quebec.


Headquarters 2nd Brig, 3rd Div., 23rd Army Corps
Greensboro, North Carolina
May 7th 1865

Brother Al,

Today is the Sabbath and I cannot employ me time more profitably than by writing a few lines to you. It is a warm, lazy day and I do not feel very bright. But if I can write anything interesting, you are welcome to it.

You have probably seen the late order from the War Department and you know as much & more of what is going on as we do. Our business is now to go occupy the State that peace may be secured to all and law and order be restored. As soon as that is done, we will be allowed to go home.

We are very pleasantly situated in a rebel’s dooryard where the shade is very agreeable these hot days. The 3rd Division remains at this place. The 1st and 2nd Divisions will go to Salisbury and Charlotte. Small detachments will be sent out in all directions to pick up all rebel property and to prevent guerrillas from carrying on their depredations. We are sure of one great fact, viz: The war is at an end and if we cannot go home directly, we know that our work is done and well done too.

I was ordered to report to the regiment but they will not let me leave here. I am used to the brigade and they want to keep me. The 103rd [OVI] will remain at Department Headquarters in Raleigh until they go home. They have an easy time of it.

I hear that Em [Emma] Bull is married. Is it so? It is too bad that the girls cannot wait a month or two longer but let them go it. Enough left for us yet? I would like to be with you in Old Solon today to attend meeting and then to have a good sing afterwards. But the time will soon come. My health is very good and I hope you and yours are well. A year ago today you was a soldier. Do you remember coming and staying over Sunday?

I must stop. Yours truly, — L. B. Hannaford

. . . . . . . . . .

Headquarters 2nd Brig., 3rd Div., 23rd Army Corps
Greensboro, North Carolina
May 12th 1865

Brother Al,

I write to let you know that I am in good health and spirits and that we are enjoying ourselves as well as could be expected now that we have no enemy in arms to fight against. Things are getting quieted down again in the Old North State and the people are mostly glad that they are in a fair way to get into the Old Union again, although some of the rebel soldiers are considerable obstreperous yet. Still I think that that feeling will soon wear away. They have to acknowledge that they are whipped wholly and that the case of the Confederacy is hopeless. But they hope to get off easy as possible.

We have to regret the course Sherman took with them which resulted in [Jeff] Davis and other rebel leaders making their escape. Still our admiration of him (Sherman) as a general and leader is as great as ever. His blunder has killed him in a political view but his greatness as a general is still as admirable as ever. It is not for us to kick him down—his enemies will do that.

Yesterday I took a ride out into the country about nine miles to see the country, take a ride, and look for any grub in shape of eggs, butter &c. I met with no adventure of importance. An orderly went with me. We were both unarmed but were safe enough. We met a good many Johnnies on their way home but none of them offered us any harm whatever. We hope to soon be allowed to go home but no until the last spark of sympathy for the Confederacy is crushed out. We will not oppress the people but we must make the feel the power of the federal government. I close hoping that you and yours are in good health.

From your brother, — L. B. Hannaford

. . . . . . . . . .

Headquarters 2nd Brig., 3rd Div., 23rd Army Corps
Greensboro, North Carolina
May 25th 1865

Brother Albert,

Yours of the 16th & 18th inst., is at hand and thankfully received too. You are right in supposing that we will not get home until September. We stay until the State Government is set in motion again.

May 26th—I have just received yours of the 13th and will answer them both now. I am glad that the frost did not do as much damage as you at first thought. We have had no cold weather here. I believe I like this climate much better than Ohio but I would not live here until the society gets revolutionized. You had better hire another hand if you can and not wait for me to come home. We will not come until our time is out.

There is a good deal of ‘blow’ about mustering out immediately the “one years men.” If they do, they will do us “three years men” great injustice. It would give them all of the advantage of us in getting work and they got the large bounty & have seen but little service. I do not believe that the War Department will show any such partiality towards them.

We are having easy times but we would like to be earning more than $16.00 per month now that the war is at an end. Prices of labor will come down to its old standard when the armies are all disbanded. I think that the Copperheads ought to made to take the “Oath” as well as some of the rebels. I wonder what the “sympathizers” think of matters and things now? The Confederacy collapsed quicker than I had any idea of. It is God’s judgement on an offending people. They are subdued.

My health is very good at present. I will write as often as I can find anything to write about and you do the same.

I am yours truly, — Lyman B. Hannaford

. . . . . . . . . .

Headquarters 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 23rd Army Corps
Greensboro, North Carolina
June 2d 1865

Brother Albert,

I received yours of the 22nd ulto. on the 30th with the news of [brother] Will’s being at home, &c. It found me in exceeding good health and I still am so blessed. Everything goes on pleasant here. The weather in mid-day is very warm but we manage to keep in the shade as much as possible. We still wear our woolen clothes. I wear the pants and drawers as I have worn them all winter and I am now uncomfortable. There is nothing like “getting used” to heat or cold. The evenings are very pleasant—so cool and nice. Towards morning it gets quite chilly, but as soon as Old Sol makes his appearance, it is soon warm again. I like this climate very much, but I would hate to have to be shingling on the roof in the sun these hot days.

Every preparation is being made to muster out the troops whose time expire prior to October 1st. The 103rd [OVI] is at Raleigh and they may go home soon. I do not know when I will go. I think that they will want to keep me as long as possible. There is no knowing what will turn up. We’ll wait and see. I am in no particular hurry to go home but the sooner the better. They hate to have the trouble of getting another man to fill my place here. But when I get ready to go, I am going anyway. There will be a good deal of delay in mustering us out. Don’t begin to look for us yet.

The flies are bothering me e’en a’most to death so I will close.

I am yours truly, — L. B. Hannaford

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