Cyril Tyler

Letters 1861-1864

The originals of the following letters are part of the Adkinson Family Civil War Letters collection, available at the Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.).

They were transcribed by the students in GW143/144 "Autobiography: History" (Fall 2012 and Winter 2013) taught by Sarah McNair Vosmeier.

Cyril Tyler, letter to his mother, 7 Dec. 1861, folder 21, box 1, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.). [1]

Camp Benton Dec. the 7th /.61
Dear Mother,

I received your letter and was glad to hear from you.  I wish I could see you and Father and all of you[.]  I would like to be there some Sundy and get to meeting there, and set down to the table with you all once more it would seem so odd to eat a good meal of victuals[.]  I wish them new boots was here that I got made just before I came away.  I would like to be there and go a hunting deer or turkey a few days and be my own boss and see how it would seem.  sometimes the oficers will be pretty easy with us.  Then some of the men will cut up a rusty then they will come down on us like a thousand of brick.  Captain Lovell is going to [be] promoted to major in a vermont Regt[.]  that will knock us out of one of the best captains in the Regt.  Our cooks have been ordered to cook up three days rations and the talk is we are under seated orders and have got to leave this place  for some place soon we don’t know where, the Mass. 19th are on the moove now.  I won’t write any more this time write soon good bye.

From your affectionate son
Cyril H Tyler

P.S. enclosed you will find one dollar in gold I want you should have your likeness taken and send it to me I haint but little or I would send the rest one. no more at present
C. H Tyler
Corpl. Co I


[Cyril H. Tyler], letter fragment, undated (c. 1 June 1862), folder 21, box 1, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.). [2]
Note that the letter fragment below is written on the back of a printed form apparently intended for organizing battle formations.


The fights begun Saturday by the enemy surprising & whipping Caseys division & Lenches division was brought up & they would first drive the enemy. Then they would get [drove] & our men was drove clear back to the back side of the field & there made one more desperate stand & there we found them when we came up.  Really pressed on all sides they was pretty near whipped when we come up & our brigade was the first to drive them. The papers give Genl. Richardsons Division the praise of helping driving the enemy the first day.  but its a mistake thay did not get on the ground till after the first days fight.  but the second day he done well.  the hardest fighting that ever was don on this continent was done the second day [after noon?] 8 hours.  The fighting was awful both sides holding their ground & constantly being reinforced.  McClellan came up just as the fighting was coming to a close & some cheering I never heard before.  The dead aint near all buryed yet.  The woods is full of dead men & horses.  They are all rotting & smell awfully.  The weather is hot.  Theres no telling how many is killed and wounded.  C.H. [Tyler]


[The writing on the reverse is partly illegible.]

Our regt list 110 killed wounded & missing
none killed in our com, 2 wounded
Porter Elias Joselby & self was the only boys from that place in the action. 

Porter says tell his folks he is well.

Cyril Tyler, letter to Sister Jone, 20 July 1862, folder 21, box 1, Adkinson Family Civil War letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover,Ind.). [3]

Harrisons Mills, Va

July 20th, /62

Sister Jone,

I received your kind letter of the 13 inst & was glad to hear from you. I have not been as tough as I could wish for a while but I am on the gain now. They sent me to the Hospital one night & the next morning I picked up what few traps I had there and humped myself fur camp & I have got as poor as a setting crow[.] but never mind Ill soon be as fat as a ladder then Ill send home lots of little letters we have got a new Col. Lieut & Maijer. Our Capt was a little sick at Fair Oaks & a good deal scared, so when the brutes shelled the camp he got up and skedaddled & Genl Sedgwick sent for him & say he will have him cashiered he is in Baltimore now we don't care about seeing him again[.] I guess that Saml Hodgeimen will be Lieut & George Travis Orderly Seargant. I am glad that they are going to send more men now some them chaps thats staid at home & found fault with the army, will have to come up to the rack the rebels will furnish fodder. Even some the old men & women ought to be send down here to take care of the wounded I guess the would sing a different tune by the time they had been here one week where its hot enough to roast eggs in the shade. but I must dry up & eat some dinner no more at present write soon good-bye.

From Your Brother,

Cyril H Tyler

Eat some biscuits & butter & honey fur me & charge it to the U. S. A

Cyril Tyler, letter to brother, 29 July 1862, folder 21, box 1, Adkinson Family Civil War letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover,Ind.). [4]

Harrisons Mills
Va July 29 / 62

Dear Brother

Again I,ll improve the oppurtunity I have of letting you know how I am getting along. I am getting tough once more.  Just a month ago this morning we left the breast works at fair oaks & for the next five days we had a tough time. & I would like to be excused from ever being obliged to retreat is such a way again. The weather is very hot here we don’t have to use much fire to work with.  we have got only two kettles to cook grub for all of our company so we live pretty [scabby?] but  theres a better time a coming.  they  tell me that the prospect is that there is going to some drafting done in that state & I am glad of it I wish they would have to draft every man between the age of 18 & 44 in the state & hang Senator Chandler & every other person that finds fault with Gen. McClellan & the army under his command.  if some of the chaps that lag back there & find fault could scare up pluck enoug to come down here & stop a few balls where we have a good many but we would have to keep a strong guard over them to keep them one night.  but my appetite is good enough to shoot  every nigger I catch ten rods from the oficers.  The big fat pukes lay around camp & & wait on the officers & we have to clean up for both[.]  I wish every man thats got a bit of abolition doctrine about him had about 20 niggers to wait on & the wenches throwed in - -  Our capt. Is out of danger & I guess he will keep out. Orland has been appointed Seargeant & does pretty well. The Orderly Seargant  will most likely get a commission.  some our boys that was wounded in  the last battle & taken to richmond & have been exchanged & sent to new York. I want that you should let me know as soon as Father gets the money I sent him. Its been gone long enough to went to France. A man here has to take all kinds of money from the peddlers & sutlers & if you can get any old Bills on broken banks especially eastern ones send them to me & I will dispose of them to good advantage[.]   get some if you can & send to me & ill send you treasury notes in return[.] no more at present write often.

From your Brother
C.H. Tyler



Cyril H. Tyler, letter to Father and Mother, 11 Sept. 1864, folder 20, box 1, Adkinson Family Civil War Letters, Duggan Library, Hanover College (Hanover, Ind.). [5]

Washington, Sept 11th 1864

Dear Father & Mother

this is about the first chance I have had to let you know how I am getting along since I left Monroe *[crossed out: we left] I am well and hope you are all the same. We left Monroe thursday & arrived here Sunday night.  we had a picnic before we left there we had one of the largest crowds that Day I ever saw. The camp ground was filled & from there to the Depot it was a perfect jam. Flags hung out of every window the ladies come & shook hands with us all and bid us good Bye & all along the Rout they cheed us. we got on Board of the steamer ocean & went to Cleveland all along through Ohio every person from old women down to Babies cheered us Old grey headed men that had two & three sons in the army would come and talk with us and cheer us. Fetch us  apples & cry when we Started which done us lots of good. When we got within about 40 in 50 miles of Pittsburg we saw [crossed out: the] innumerable coal mines and oil springs which lined the road till after we left town. Some places they would be one every 10 [rods?] for 2- & 9 miles we crossed the Alleghany Mts. which is between Pitsburg & Harisburg the largest Hils I ever saw its about 75 miles through them [we?] went through two tunnels one ¾ of a mile the other Half a mile it was all hills and Hollows there was no flats.  Some places we would go on the side of a hill where it would be 200 feet above us & 150 feet below us the rail road was made through the solid [crossed out: m] rocks most all the way there was one river that the water was as red as red chalk then a little further was one yellow these 2 with some others  formed the Juniettes we followed this river down [crossed out: too] two harrisburg there was great quanties of stone lime made just in the edge of Baltimore

we stayed in Baltimore about 4 hours. they used us well there its an awful large city its all brick buildings. The land is midlind good here after [crossed out: your] you get down 2- or 3 feet its a solid rock 2 have not seen but on [crop?] of [corn?] as good as it is in that county since 2 left the burg I did not see a dozen [crossed out: cr] fields of wheat in Ohio norPennsylvania there is a great many cole mines in Ohio mining is about all they do [crossed out: there] where we went through its hilly in this state as far as I have been. We ar in sight of the Potomac now. we are camped on a hill where we can see over the whole City as far as you can see in two directions its nothing but buildings we [crossed out: went a] went and saw the Capitol its the niceist building I ever saw its all marble but the doors and the stairs which go up into the tower they are at work at it now there is a great many men to work in it they are building a new tower they have got the old one off and get large machiens up there to pull up marble with. There is a large field filled full of marble to be put into the building yet there was a great many monuments there some of them [was?] men that was 12 feet high looked as natural as life. I was in the Senate chamber and Hall of Representatives  I wish I could Describe the building to but I cant. They have 2 large [crossed out: Bull] buildings there one of them call the Soldiers rest & the other the Soldiers Retreat where soldiers stay a day or two when they first come here there is about 1- or 2 100 regiments camped around town its tents in all directions as far as you can see.



1. Civil War soldiers had limited options when it came to eating.  Tyler's rations likely consisted of a variety of salted meats like bacon, ham, or beef. Soldiers' limited diets likely had an effect on their health.  Tyler's desire to consume a meal of “victuals” is an indication that he misses the cooking of his mother, as most soldiers would.  Marching rations were much less nutritious than camp rations.  On the march, a soldier would likely have about a pound of some type of meat, a small amount of break, coffee, and tea.  Food obviously was something that came to Cyril Tyler’s mind when writing to his mother, who likely was the main source of his food before he left for the war. Source: Dorothy Denneen Volo and James M. Volo, Daily Life in Civil War America, (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Publishing, 2009), 143. Transcription and annotation for this letter (Cyril Tyler, letter to his mother, 7 Dec. 1861) were by Nicholas Brunner (HC 2016).

2. For more on General McClellan, see the Civil War Trust, "George B. McClellan," (accessed 26 Nov. 2012). Transcription and reference by Matthew White (HC 2016). This letter fragment probably describes the Battle of Fair Oaks (also known as the Battle of Seven Pines), which took place May 31-June 1, 1862. Charles Benson, also a member of Tyler's company, reported on the battle in his diary: "Only 2 wounded in our Co. The boys did splendid." On August 26, 1862, Benson recorded seeing Tyler in the hospital. Both men remained in the hospital for some time; on Sept. 15, Benson wrote: "Went down & saw Cyril Tyler. We wrote a letter to the Regt. to see how they are getting along." Source: Charles E. Benson, ed. by Richard H. Benson, The Civil War Diaries of Charles E. Benson: Corporal, Company I, Seventh Regiment Michigan Infantry Volunteers (Decorah, Ia: Anundsen Publishing, Co., 1991. -smv

3. General John Sedgwick commanded the 2nd Division, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac from March 13 to September 17, 1862; and then he was major general, USV July 4, 1862. Source: "John Sedgwick," Merriam Webster's Biographical Dictionary (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, 1995) available online through Gale Biography In Context (accessed 26 Nov. 2012). Transcription and annotation for this letter (Cyril Tyler to Jone, 20 July 1862) were by Marissa Peppel (HC 2016).

4. Janna Saucerman (HC 2016) transcribed this letter (Cyril Tyler, letter to brother, 29 July, 1862).

5. Alexandra Nicholson (HC 2016) transcribed this letter (Cyril Tyler, letter to Father and Mother, 11 Sept. 1864).

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Return to Hanover College Department of History
Please send comments to: