Monday, May 18, 2015

Mother to Cold Harbor casualty: 'Look to Jesus, my dear son'

Private Lyman Smith of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery.
(Image courtesy of Smith descendant)
Unaware of her son Lyman's fate, a worried Julia B. Lyman of Litchfield, Conn., wrote a letter to him four days after the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery received its baptism of fire at the Battle of Cold Harbor, near Richmond. Lyman was a 22-year-old private in the regiment.

Litchfield, Sunday June 5, 1864

We read the daily papers and look fearfully for your name among the killed, wounded, and missing. May God, who I trust has hitherto kept you, continue to watch over you and  'Cover your head in the day of battle.'

I should have no comfort now, did I not rejoice that the 'Lord God Omnipotent reigneth'

We often wish we knew which corps you were in.

                  The "Heavies" suffered more than 300 casualties here on June 1, 1864. 

There was a dispatch yesterday that Tyler had been attacked and had repulsed the enemy with the loss of three or four thousand men and that he was wounded in the foot so badly that it had to be amputated. He had before heard that your regiment was assigned to his command.

All we can do is to wait and trust.

Your father has just come in and says 'give my love to Lyman and tell him I hope he may be spared to come home' -- and dear Lyman, we all unite in the same prayer and hope for you.

Everything is beautiful here now. I would write you about the farm, and how nicely Ed is getting along, but have no heart to do it, for all lesser subjects are swallowed up in our one great anxiety for your present safety. Just as soon and just as often as you can, write. We want to hear from you.

Look to Jesus, my dear son. He can carry you safely through all the dangers, and I trust He will. I have given you his care time after time and shall continue to do it daily and hourly.

With deep affection
I am your mother,

Julia B. Smith

Lyman Smith was shot in the head and killed instantly at Cold Harbor, one of 27 soldiers killed or mortally wounded in Company A. "Break the sad news to Lyman's mother and father," Private Lewis Bissell wrote about his cousin on June 2, 1864. "I have not seen his body but some of the boys have and attached his name. Robert Watt lies near him. Tell his mother that I have his Bible. I shall send it home if possible. If not, will keep it until I can."


Smith, Richard, The Old Nineteenth, The Story of the Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery. New York: iUniverse Inc., 2007, Page 331

In the Litchfield Enquirer on June 9, 1864, the name of Private Lyman Smith of Company A 
was listed  among those killed at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864.

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