Opening in 2027! Read our Latest News

Submitted by Willa Atkinson; Edited by Cheri Todd Molter

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 this link:  Lyman Beecher Hannaford letters.]

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 Brigade, 3rd Division, 23rd Army Corps
Wilmington, North Carolina
March 1, 1865

Brother Al,

I received two letters from you yesterday and will hasten to answer them. I have not written any of late, nit because I had no opportunity to write but because I have been careless and slack, and then postage stamps were scarce and money also, and I hate to get the stamp of the U. S. C[hristian] Commission on my letters when I am able to pay (so much for excuses). Now if you will forgive me, I will write oftener in future. I am now in the best of health and am fat as you are. I weigh only 158 pounds which is my maximum weight.

I am glad that you are prospering so well. You will have a good job of Frank Pettibone’s and I wish I was there to help you all through with it. You must get a job engaged for us both to work on in October and November. By the way, what wages do you get now? Work will come rather tough to me at first but I guess I will conquer laziness after a bit—that is, if you can keep me busy next fall and winter. I will have some money when I get home and I must buy tools if I work at the trade and then I think I must invest in a lot of about 1 acre. What do you think? Or will we go West?

I am glad to hear that you are getting fat again. Al, if I criticize you a little in your style of writing a letter, do not be offended but take it in good spirit. It is a rule to never split a syllable at the end of a line. Split a word but not a syllable. Never split a word of one syllable, ad in a word of two or more syllables, be careful and not divide a syllable.

Direct as usual to Wilmington, North Carolina

Accept and forgive, yours, — Lyman

To Albert

. . . . . . . . . .

Headquarters 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 23rd Army Corps
Camp near Kinston, North Carolina
March 13th 1865

Brother Al,

I will write you a few lines as I have a little spare time. I am well as usual and the weather is as pleasant as it well could be. We have come a good long march in the last eight days—about 125 miles in all. Today we are resting.

There was a fight near here three days ago and our men were successful in repulsing the enemy. We arrived here yesterday. (We may move on through Kinston toward Goldsboro tomorrow or next day. Everything is successful so far and I hope that this campaign will tell the story in North Carolina. Then we will all go to Richmond and end it there. We expect to be very active this spring and summer and I hope it will not be of no avail to our cause. The rebels must give way to our superior forces which are moving on to them from almost all directions. Sherman is not far off—some say not over ten miles.

March 15, 1865

Dear Brother, I will now resume my writing. Yesterday we moved about 4 miles. There is no fighting near here now. Everything appears to be quiet at present. We hear that Sheridan is on the move and is successful as usual.

Weather is warm and rainy. Sun shines out hot at intervals. We are in the midst of cypress swamps and pine timber. Pine is very fat with pitch. Many of the trees are tapped. We have burned many a pitch tree on our march from Wilmington. They burn fiercely until the pitch is all burned; then go out. I am in very good health now. Plenty of money but postage stamps are very scarce. Send me some if you have not already. I would have written oftener but for the scarcity of them.

Remember me to father and John and all the friends. I am truly yours, — Lyman B. Hannaford

. . . . . . . . . .

Goldsboro, North Carolina
March 31st 1865

Brother Albert,

As I have a few leisure moments just now, I will improve them in writing to you. I have received no news from home since the 19th of this month and that was just a month old. Some of the boys have received letters only eight days old and is it odd that I do not receive any. It must be that you do not write as often as of old. What is the matter? I am now supplied with stamps and can write oftener than I have been doing of late.

I have just returned from viewing a sad sight. A soldier was shot dead for committing rape on a woman. He belonged to the 12th New York Cavalry. He took it very cooly. Did not seem to wince at all. He was made an example of and such is the fate of all who this commit crime. [See The Execution of Pvt. James Preble]

My health is very good at present. We are momentarily expecting Gen. Casement’s return. He has been home on leave. I understand he is at the depot. Col. Wilsox, 177th Ohio has been in command of the Brigade during the General’s absence. We expect to remain here about 8 or 10 days longer and then—then something else will turn up. Hen. Trowbridge is not very well. The rest of [the] Solon boys are well, I believe.

Give my respects to all of the friends. I remain as ever your brother, — Ly. B. Hannaford

To A. M. Smith, Solon

. . . . . . . . . .

Raleigh, North Carolina
April 15th 1865

Brother & Sister,

I received yours some time ago but have been busy most of the time and some of the time on the march so that I have neglected to answer it until now. I am in good health and in good spirits in view of the good news and prospects of more to soon follow. Negotiations have been going on today between Johnson and Sherman and we expect that we will soon hear the glad news of Johnson’s capitulation. Then the end is nigh at hand and we will all rejoice. Everything is going just right.

This is quite a fine city. I have not seen much of it yet. There are a good many good looking ladies in town which is all right, you know. Some say we go into permanent camp tomorrow. I hope it is so. We expect that the trains will come up from Goldsboro by tomorrow evening on the railroad. I had as leave stay here until my time is out as anywhere else.

I thank you for the stamps but do not send any more as I have plenty on hand now. Time passes very swiftly now. It will soon be September.

Remember me to all, father, and the rest. Yours &c., — Lyman B. Hannaford

To A. M. & M. Smith

. . . . . . . . . .

Headquarters 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 23rd Army Corps
Raleigh, North Carolina
April 23d 1865

Brother Al,

The war is at an end altho’ it has not been so proclaimed by our high officials. But the end has cone at last. All honor to the Divine Being and His worthy instruments, Grant & Sherman and the armies under them. Right and Freedom will always prevail as long as there is a Just God in Heaven over Treason and Slavery.

Our President is dead. Let us sorrow for the Greatest President we ever had. There is no Hell hot enough for the cowardly assassin who did such a dastardly deed. I send you a piece clipped from a ‘daily’ printed in this city. Truly Lincoln has not died “in vain” and “he will go to heaven bearing the broken shackles of four million slaves.” His name will never die.

We expect to start for Washington by the 1st of next month or in about a week. We may not get home before two months but I look to be home by the 1st of July at the farthest.

Nerve [Minerva] may finish the short. Direct as before. Yours truly, — L. B. Hannaford

To A. M. Smith

Union Ticket
For Governor
Gen. J. D. Cox
A pure man
One of Nature’s Noblemen
A Christian General and a Statesman & Scholar.

. . . . . . . . . .

Headquarters 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 23rd Army Corps
Raleigh, North Carolina
April 28th 1865

Brother Al,

I have received yours written while you were at work in East Cleveland—also one from you and Nerve [Minerva] later than that.

I am very well and in good spirits. The war is at an end but our work is not all done yet. The latest grapevine is that the 23rd and 10th Army Corps, composing the Department of North Carolina, remain here while Sherman’s Army leaves in a day or two for the North. Johnson has surrendered and we remain to receive the arms and other stores, and to garrison the State until peace is fully restored and the State Government is organized again. It is rumored that the 23rd Corps will go to Greensboro soon—probably to receive rebel stores &c.

We have just received an order proclaiming peace and naming Gen. Schofield to settle things in North Carolina, Gen. Gilmore in South Carolina, and Gen. Wilson in Georgia. Don’t look for us home until our time is expired. Write often. Send me a paper once in awhile.

I am yours &c., — Lyman B. Hannaford

. . . . . . . . . .

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

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This