1865: Charles T. Bissell & David Bell McKibbin to Stephen Carr Lyford

David Bell McKibbin

This letter was started by David Bell McKibbin and ended by Charles T. Bissell. They wrote the letter from the Presidio in San Francisco in September 1865 to their friend, Stephen Carr Lyford.

McKibbin was an 1848 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. In the Civil War, he served as a captain in the 14th U. S. Infantry but later accepted a commission as Colonel of the 158th Pennsylvania Infantry and still later as the Colonel of the 214th Pennsylvania Infantry. After the war, he returned to the 14th U. S. Infantry for a time and then eventually transferred to the 32nd U. S. Infantry from which he retired in 1875. He died in 1890.

Bissell joined the 5th Michigan Volunteers in December 1862 and was detailed as an Aide-de-camp to General Hunt, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac, in January 1863. He resigned in March 1865. He was made a second lieutenant in the 2nd U. S. Artillery in April 1865 and was on mustering duty in Pittsburg from May to August 1865 before receiving orders to report to the Presidio of San Francisco in September and later at Benicia.

Lyford was an 1861 graduate of the U S. Military Academy. He served in the ordinance department at various posts throughout the civil war. In August 1865, he was offered a position as assistant professor of mathematics at West Point. Lyford was detailed as a member of a General Court Martial at Fort Leavenworth on 15 September 1867 for the trial of Bvt. Maj. Gen. George A. Custer, 7th U. S. Cavalry. He died in 1885 at the age of 46.


Presidio of San Francisco
September 22d 1865

Dear Lyford,

Strange to say, Bissell is my chum. We occupy a house in common. We were talking of you and agreed to write you a mosaic. I leave on Tuesday for Ft. Vancouver. I was to leave several days since but remained to see [Charles T.] Bissell and [James H.] Lord. We had a Flyer in town last evening very similar to our campaign of the Blue Pig. I am glad to hear you are at the Point [West Point] and out of Harms way.

Earnest and [Capt. John S.] Wharton called. They hate this damned country as much as Bissell and I do. We scarcely do anything but curse our luck. If ever I get out of this, I will take an oath never to come back again. I wish I was back again in old Pittsburgh with Mrs. McClurg for our landlady. Pray for us, for by the Lord, we are sure to wither away in this second edition of New Jersey. Love to all. Yours, — McKibbin

Stephen Carr Lyford

Dear Lyford,

I arrived here last Tuesday the 19th and as Mac has already told you, have seen enough of this infernal country to be thoroughly disgusted. I sailed from Baltimore on the 19th of August. During the trip to Aspinwall, I “threw myself away” several times, and felt then as I do now, and I was in the cold, cold ground and the green leaves growing over me, etc. We took a little “make your game gentleman” last night to the detriment of our September pay accounts. Who relieved you in Pittsburg? What will poor Peggy do now? Poor thing! Have you heard anything of the Ganard’s since you left Pittsburg? Did May break her heart? Did that “Rock” soften before you left? Couldn’t “Adam” give you the necessary consolation? I am to be stationed at Benecia. I belong to one of the light batteries of the regiment.

Goodbye. Your friend, — [Charles T.] B[issell]


Griff View All →

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.

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