This letter was written by 2nd Lieutenant Daniel Hayford (1827-1885) who enlisted as a sergeant in Co. K, 25th Indiana Infantry, on 19 August 1861. He participated in the battles of Fort Donelson and Shiloh and was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 1 November 1862. He resigned his commission after the fall of Atlanta and returned to Spencer county, Indiana, where he married Virginia Ellen Brown (1842-1914) in February 1865.
Daniel was the son of Samuel Hayford (1792-1846) and Charlotte Pompilly (1791-1829) of Clermont county, Ohio. Left motherless at the age of two, Daniel was raised by his aunt, Mrs. Louisa Doane of Cincinnati. He attended the public schools of Cincinnati and later, Farmer’s College at College Hill and Antioch College at Yellow Springs. At the latter school he came under the influence of Horace Mann (then President of the college) and became an ardent anti-slavery man. In 1855 he went to New Orleans on a flatboat and for several months worked at his trade as a plasterer in western Tennessee. He settled in Spencer county, Ohio, in 1856 where he enlisted in the service five years later.
Daniel wrote the letter to Mark Alvah Stinchfield, (1827-1897), the son of Mark Parsons Stinchfield (1785-1828) and Rachel Steward (1783-18xx). Daniel’s father took the widow Rachel as his second wife. Mark was a resident of New Richmond, Clermont county, Ohio. He was married there in September 1848 to Rebecca Ellen Chapman (1830-1903) .
April 7th 1863
It seems to be my fortune to write to you on the anniversary of a great battle. But I shall not inflict upon you a description of what I saw, heard, and felt at the bloody battle of Shiloh one year ago yesterday and today. If I live to see you again, I will tell you something about it.
I received three letters the same day yours came. One was from a comrade wounded at Shiloh — since discharged, another from somebody else and the other from you. The health of the soldier is good but he is a cripple for life. He was shot in the leg. The somebody was in excellent health, feminine gender, singular number, and hopes the war will soon be over so that the soldiers can come home and enjoy the reward of the faithful. God bless the dear women! say I — and so says every soldier from the humblest private in the rear rank to the proudest general in his broadcloth and buttons.
Tell Charley Browning I am obliged to him for his compliments — also that I wish him unmixed happiness, though I can hardly think of the happiness of a bachelor as otherwise than “a little mixed” at the best.
I have no words with which to express my detestation of the course that John Furgeson ¹ is taking on the war question. What does he mean? I have no objection to his being a democrat, but in the name of heaven, can’t he be a democrat and still be a loyal man and a patriot? Why does he not side with such noble and true men as Gov. [David] Tod, Dickinson, [Benjamin] Butler, and [Martin] Van Buren, rather than be found ranged alongside of such as [Clement] Vallandigham, Jeff Davis, Sam Medary, ² Ben Wood, and Co. You say that in his New Richmond [Ohio] speech, John asserted that Lincoln had violated the Constitution. Did he prefer any charge of that kind against the President of the Southern Confederacy? Or does he think him innocent of any violation of that instrument. He talks very hard about Abolitionists. Does he say any hard things about rebels? He thinks that democrats will be intimidated by military force and perhaps be prevented from voting at the next election. Does he think Massachusetts troops, who, he says will be the instruments in such work in Ohio; does he think they will interfere with loyal men while exercising the right of suffrage? It would seem that such would hardly be the case — especially in consideration of the fact, as they claim it, that a large majority of the soldiers are democrats. When speaking of military force being brought to bear upon Democrats, he must have had the case of Dr. [Edson B.] Olds in his mind, with many more of the same genus who have been quartered in Fort Lafayette. But what does he think ought to be done with the men who fired upon the flag of their own country and a starving garrison of their own countrymen, defied the authority of their lawfully constituted rulers, and by so doing carried desolation and death into thousands of households, and struck a blow almost fatal at the hearts of our own people?
The Rebels spurn a compromise and detest those who propose it quite as heartily as we do. I am sorry indeed if John [Ferguson] has descended to the level of a truckling politician, but I will hope that like the convicted sinner, he may be brought to a realizing sense of his situation, for to say nothing of the next world, his future in this will be far from enviable. For rest assured, the names of those who refuse to uphold their country in this her hour of peril will be handed down to posterity with execration and contempt. Tell John that he must take different ground or he will share the fate of poor Gray or even a worse fate for his only crime was that he was found in bad company which I fear is more than can be said of him.
As to party politics, we don’t talk about that in the army for we feel that we have something of more importance on hand. We will try first to save our country from disintegration and dishonor, & then we will fight with less destructive weapons the battles of political warfare. But I am writing you a very long letter. I fear a rather dry one. I am sorry to learn that your wife is not in as good health as usual but hope it may not last long. Kiss your little ones for me. Give my love to all. Write soon and remember me as ever.
Truly your brother, — Daniel Hayford, Co. K, 25th Indiana
[to] Mark A. Stinchfield
P. S. Tell Cyrus I will write to him soon.
¹ I assume this is John Ferguson [not Furgeson] (1817-1872) of Claremont county, Ohio. When he registered for the draft in 1863, John was enumerated in Pierce Township of Claremont county — a 44 year-old farmer born in Ohio.
² Samuel Medary (1801-1864) was an American newspaper owner and politician. Later in life he retired to Columbus, Ohio, where he started a newspaper he named The Crisis. As a staunch Democrat, he spoke out against the war in his editorial column and his office was attacked by abolitionists in 1863. John Ferguson was one of many Peace Democrats who sent money to Medary after the incident to compensate him for his losses.
My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries.