This letter was written by Byron Densmore Paddock (1833-1920), the son of Henry Paddock (1791-1854) and Silence Hard (1801-1838). Paddock wrote the letter from Nashville were he served as Captain of Battery F, 1st Michigan Light Artillery. He had started as quartermaster sergeant, then promoted to second and first lieutenant, before rising to the rank of captain in September 1863, and was discharged April 6, 1865. After the war, Paddock worked as a sale man (or “commercial traveller”) in Michigan and then later in New Jersey. Three of Paddock’s letters written in 1862 are housed in the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan. Another letter, written in 1864 near Atlanta to Hattie, is housed in the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Georgia.
Paddock wrote the letter to Harriet (“Hattie”) Adeline Crippen (1839-1902) in Coldwater, Branch County, Michigan. Public records indicate that the couple were not married until 27 December 1865. Paddock’s pleas to hear “from my little girl” near the end of the letter apparently is a reference to Hattie herself.
Headquarters, Battery F. 1st Michigan Artillery
January 15th 1865
My Dear Hattie,
Today is Sunday but instead of going to church, I have been through the usual routine of a military inspection of the battery and other official business which kept me busy until the cook called me to dinner. That disposed of, some officers called on me and we visited the grounds & mansion of a widow lady who resides near our camp and who has one of — if not the most beautiful — residences and appurtenances that I ever saw. The improvements cost three hundred thousand dollars. No doubt Bradley has visited the Ashley Place as it is called.
Yesterday twenty-five of my men were mustered out and left for home. I had made all calculation to muser out but have succeeded so poorly in getting my accounts settled with the Government that I deemed it best to remain for a time longer. Had it not been for the battle here at Nashville, I would have had all my papers collected in and been able to have settled all my accounts and been mustered out at the expiration of my term of service. When Gen. [John Bell] Hood fell back, our troops followed and the officer with whom I had business went off since when it is about an impossibility to get a communication to & from the army. I have written and telegraphed but to no purpose.
Gen. [John] Schofield is anxious to have my battery at the front but can’t get the proper papers through so that I can turn over my old battery and draw more equipments. I have telegraphed him today to know what to do.
Lieut. [George] Holbrook is out of the battery. He honored me with his presence for a few minutes on his way home. You have doubtless seen him ere this. I am very glad that he is out of the battery and also hope that ere this [Norman] St. Andrews ¹ has been mustered into his Negro Regiment.
Lieut. [George] Hawley left here one week ago today. I sent a letter and box by him to you and presume that ere this he has delivered them safe. He has gone home on sick leave; don’t you think that he looks very ill.
Twenty-six batteries at their post were ordered to turn over their horses and guns a few days since and draw muskets. They have all done so but myself. I had the order changed so far as it applied to my battery. I do not propose to have infantry made of my company.
Darling I know that you will be disappointed just a little to find that I am not out of the service for I guess you were in high hopes that I would be able to so arrange my matters that I could muster out, And, indeed, I really hoped that it might be so. I do think, however, that the end of this war is not far distant and that there will be but little severe fighting here in the southwest.
My health is very good but my eyes are again troubling me so much so that I have stopped writing or reading by candlelight and must necessarily do less in the day time. Yes, dear Hattie, I too hope that we may pass the next Holidays together and may they be happy ones to us.
Darling, I must not write too much as my eyes are quite weak and the less I use them the sooner they will (if ever) recover. Let me hear from my little girl often. Your letters come quite regular now. The last one received on Thursday last came through in five days.
Ever yours, — Byron
¹ Norman S. Andrews was in Battery F, 1st Michigan Light Artillery, as First Lieutenant (1861-1864), then commissioned Colonel in the 12th U. S. Colored Artillery, July 24, 1864, and discharged at Louisville, Ky. in January,1865. In 1866 he was appointed U.S. Marshal for the Eastern Division. In civilian life he was a surveyor and civil engineer in Three Rivers, Michigan.