Warren County Historical Society Presents …
The Digital Version * * * “REWIND”
January 17, 2013
Warren County Soldier Offers Insight Into the Mind of the Civil War Soldier
The History Channel’s website tells us that it was the great number of soldiers lost in the War Between the States, the Civil War, which caused the nation to designate a day in May to honor the fallen heroes. On May 5, 1868, General John A. Logan issued an order setting May 30th as Decoration Day, a day to decorate the graves of the soldiers who had lost their lives. In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day to be the last Monday in May.
The need for units of fighting men reached its tentacles into virtually every town and hamlet and Hague was no exception to that. An article in the May 16, 1968, Ticonderoga Sentinel states, “At the time of the Civil War, Hague had a population of slightly less than 700, and 106 men volunteered for service. One man only was drafted and he enlisted before he was called.” Among those Hague volunteers was Hiram M. Sexton, a farmer, who joined a Ticonderoga Company and served as a farrier with the 2nd Regiment Cavalry of New York State. He wrote a letter* home that tells us what’s in the hearts and minds of every serviceman in battle – whether it be in Gettysburg, the snowy fields of Bastogne, the jungles of Vietnam or the desert of Iraq.
Edgar (l) and Hiram Sexton (r) hunting with their dog
What follows is a letter that Hiram wrote home while he was away from home ‘soldiering.’ Some punctuation has been added for ease in reading, but basically the letter is transcribed as written.
“Dear father and mother I set down this morning to rite you a few lines to let you no that I am well and hope to hear that you are well when I get the returnes from this. many changes and marching and countermarching have taken place since the soldiers of the harris light cavalry getherdnightley under the old apple tree or in front of the chaplans tent during the warm moonlight evenings of September and October. the rich autumn folige that then made even poor old desolated Virginia look beautiful has droped away and Stern winter rendrd all the more firm and forbidding by the ravages of wore now rains supreme. many of our number also like the leaves have drooped away. Som of them have obtained and Squanderdtharebounty have treacherously deserted and Sneak away like thievish hounds. the bulit accident and siknes have each conspired to lessen our number, and meny a noble harted fellow, ho was always first and formost in all a Soldiers dutys, now languishing in somhospitible or sleeping beneath the Sod that last sleep from which no bugle call can a waken him. you at the north who cosily read about battles in an armchair know little of a mans sensations who stands in front of the enemyes guns. he hears Shots and Shells Screem and explode over and Around him. before him rises the SulphurousSmok of the condflick. from out of obscurety he knows that at eny moment Som Swift messenger of death may be speeding on its way to his hart. he thinks of unfinished plans, of bright prospects and hopes for the futer, his home and its beloved inmates, and the forms and featuers of those friends that hold the cheaf places within his soal rises up bforehim and he knows that eny moment he may be Snatched from all theas and lied mangled bleeding corps upon the ground and So it is hard for one to leave his home, his wife and children, father and mother, and face the canons Mouth. I don’t know but what I have seen you all for the last time but I hope and pray to god that I may be Spared to returne to See the loved ones that I left at home that is dear to me then life it Self but wee cant tell what changes this war will fetch on befor next September; but if I di I di like a Soldier and not a coured. thare is A camp rumer that wee are a going to Richmond. thare has ben orders to have the horses Shod in redenes and if wee go I will rite Again. wee have had very cold wether hear this winter but I think it is A bout over with now. the ground is coverd with eyce and has ben So for the last two weeks. to day has been quite modrate and worm. I have no more news of importence to rite to night. I began this letter this morning and finish it to night. give my respects to all that encuir for me and my love to father mother& Sisters and brothers I will close now by beding you all good night. I will Sine my Self you afectnate Son. rite soon. H. M. S.”
Hiram did return to Hague to raise his family and live out his life.
Hiram Sexton resting from plowing
Hiram’s letter allows us to take a moment to remember all the men and women who have served us so well, and to offer a prayer for those who serve us still.
*For ease of reading, punctuation has been added to this letter taken from The Sexton Boatbuilders of Hague” by Dorothy Backus Offensend.
© January 17 2013, Warren County Historical Society.
Article courtesy of Patricia McDonough, president Hague Historical Society. It was originally written for The Hague Chronicle, in May 2009 by Patricia McDonough. Photos provided by author.