June 7, 1863 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

June 7, 1863

To: Sarah Keith 

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Belle Plaines, VA

Was surprised to hear Mother had gone to Canada for a visit. Jennie wrote that Ed had given up farming and that Pros was running the farm. “Mary always thought more of him [Pros] than the rest of the family.” The fight on May 3 was the hardest. He believes no battle on record shows a musketry fight of so lengthy a duration.

1863-06-07 1863-06-07B 1863-06-07C 1863-06-07D

Camp 20th Ind Vol near Belle Plains

June 7th, 1863

Dear Sister

Your welcome letter was received last night. I had almost despaired of hearing from you or Mother[1]. I wrote Mother twice, one just before the fight and one since and thought it very singular, for Mother is much more prompt than I be (and that you know is saying a good deal for her). Thought that the twenty dollars had stopped somewhere on the road and am glad to hear that it is all right. The first knowledge that I had of Mother being in Canada was by a letter from Jennie[2] received the 4th. I was much astonished. Mother had written something about such a journy in some of her letters but I hadnt any idea that she seriously entertaind any such an idea, much less going. Well I hope she will have a good time generally, and come back satisfied with everything and everybody.

Jennie wrote me that Ed[3] was running on the Burlington and Quincy R R and that Pros[4] was running the farm. I guess that Ed has made up his mind that the old Gentleman[5] will out live him[6], and that it aint going to pay to punish himself any longer by hoeing corn and potatoes. Well I dont think the farm will suffer any by the change for I guess that Pros is the best farmer and Mary[7] always thought more of him than she did of all of the rest of the family. I should have written to Pros if I had known where he was. He will hear from me soon.

That was a tough old week that we spent across the River[8]. I was as near used up when arrived back to camp as I ever was. The fight on Sunday (May the 3d) was the hardest on record. A continual roar of musketry was kept up from sunrise to 12 Oclock am. I believe no battle on record shows a musketry fight of so lengthy a duration. The Artilly was not idle although not quite as heavy as at Malvern Hill[9], it was enough so to make it very interesting. I might with propiety say decidedly interesting. Our supported Batteries for five days, in fact all the time most, which account for our small loss. One shell struck in my Company, knocking the arm off from one and severely wounding two others. We was very much surprised when we received the order to retreat. We supposed that we was whipping the Rebs all the time.

Everything has went on quietly since we returned up to the lst of this month when we received orders to be ready to march at short notice, sent off all our superfluous baggage, got ready and are quietly awaiting the final order. Which way where or when remains to be seen.

My love to Luke[10] and the children. Answer and oblig.

Your Brother

Hiram C

P.S. Please accept the enclosed note and oblige.


[1] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[2] Virginia (Worley) Crawford, his brother Henry Crawford’s wife

[3] His brother, Edwin Crawford

[4] His brother, Prosper Crawford

[5] Edwin’s father-in-law, Patrick Hamilton

[6] Ironically, Edwin died in 1866 and Patrick Hamilton outlived him by almost four years

[7] Edwin Crawford’s second wife, Mary (Hamilton) Crawford

[8] Probably the Rappahannock River, returning from Chancellorsville

[9] A defensive battle fought in June 1862 as the Army of Potomac retreated following its failed attempt to march on Richmond, VA

[10] Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith Jr

April 1, 1863 letter to Luke & Sarah Keith from Jeff Chaffee

April 1, 1863

To: Luke & Sarah Keith

From: Jeff Chaffee, Camp Near Falmouth, VA

Returned to camp Friday; he was reported AWOL. Looked up Lieutenant Hiram Crawford who is in command of Company E. He’s a first lieutenant and all his men like him. Says to tell Aunt Catherine and Lucy to expect a letter from him.

1863-04-01 1863-04-01B

Camp Near Falmouth v.a.[1]

Apr lst 1863

Dear Friends one and all

It affords me much pleasure to write to you. I am once more with my company and once more a Soldier surrounded with all the Pleasures and displeasures of camp life. I reached camp Friday noon found all things lovely. The Ajutant had got me reported absent without leave but it did not do him any good. I am all right now. There was a little excitement here last night and this morning but I guess it will not amount to anything. The long roll beat and orders came to be ready to fall in at a moments notice but I guess it was an April Fool.

Last Monday I went and hunted up Lieut. Hiram Crawford your son and brother. I found him very easily. He is onely about a mile from here. I delivered my message to him and he was both pleased and supprised when I told him who I was and where I was from. He was very glad to hear from you. He had a great many questions to ask about the folks at home. Aunt Sarrah you and your mother[2] may well be proud of your Brother and Son. He is a noble looking fellow. His men all like him by what they say. He is in command of Company E. He is first Lieutenant. He says he would like to see you all again. I think if we both live we will be better acquainted by and by for I like his looks and appearance first rate.

There is no news to write to you. I expect we will soon move. You must give my love to all that you think will receive it without being offended. You must all excuse me for not makeing you a longer visit but you know that I could not stay. I hope I shall come home some time when my time will not be limited and and I can stay untill you get tiered of me.

Tell Aunt Catharine[3] and Lucy[4] to look out for a letter pretty soon and that I am a looking for one now from them with some Pretty faces in them and also Lois[5] give my love to all reserve a share for yourself. So no more at present. So Adieu.

from your faithful friend


To Uncle Luke and Aunt Sarah

[1] Northeast of Fredericksburg

[2] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[3] Luke’s sister, Catherine (Keith) Bradley Lee

[4] Catherine’s daughter, Lucy Lee

[5] Luke’s daughter, Lois Keith, by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[6] Jeff’s last name, and his relationship to Luke and Sarah, are not clear at this point (Update of 04-02-2017): Further research indicates that this most likely is Thomas Jefferson Chaffee Jr. who was married to Luke’s niece, Frances “Kate” (Keith) Chaffee

20th Indiana Infantry


Organized at Lafayette, Ind., and mustered in July 22, 1861. Left State for Baltimore, Md., August 2. Stationed at Cockeysville, Md., guarding Northern Central R. R. to Pennsylvania line till September. Expedition to Hatteras Inlet, N. C., September 24-27. At fortifications North end of Hatteras bank till November. Action at Chickamacomico October 4. Ordered to Fortress Monroe, Va., November 9, and duty there till March, 1862. Attached to Fortress Monroe, Va., Dept. of Virginia, to May, 1862. Robinson’s Brigade, Dept. of Virginia, to June, 1862. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 3rd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to August, 1862. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Army Corps, to March, 1864. 1st Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps, to July, 1865.


  • Engagement at Newport News, Va., between Ram “Merrimac” and United States Ships “Cumberland” and “Congress” and the “Monitor” March 8-9, 1862.
  • Occupation of Norfolk and Portsmouth, May 10.
  • Joined Army of the Potomac on the Peninsula June 8.
  • Charles City Cross Roads June 19.
  • Seven days before Richmond, June 25-July 1.
  • Battles of Oak Grove (“The Orchards”) June 25.
  • White Oak Swamp and Glendale June 30; Jordan’s Ford June 30.
  • Malvern Hill July 1 and July 5. During seven days, the Regiment lost over 400 men, and over one half of Company E were killed and wounded.
  • On July 1 Hiram received a battlefield promotion to the rank of Second Lieutenant.
  • At Harrison’s Landing till August 16.
  • Movement to Fortress Monroe, thence to Centreville August 16-28.
  • Pope’s Campaign in Virginia August 28-September 2.
  • Battles of Groveton August 29.
  • Bull Run August 30.
  • Chantilly September 1.
  • Duty at Arlington Heights till October.
  • At Poolesville till October 29.
  • Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 29-November 19.
  • Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., December 12-15.
  • Burnside’s 2nd Campaign (“Mud March”) January 20-24, 1863.
  • At Falmouth till April.
  • Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6.
  • Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. (Captured 23rd Georgia.)
  • Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24.
  • Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3.
  • Pursuit of Lee to Manassas Gap, Va., July 5-24.
  • Wapping Heights, Va., July 23.
  • Detached at New York City during draft disturbances August-September.
  • Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8.
  • Kelly’s Ford November 7.
  • Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2.
  • Payne’s Farm November 27.
  • Regiment veteranize January 1, 1864.
  • Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7.
  • Campaign from the Rapidan to the James River May 4-June 15.
  • Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7.
  • Laurel Hill May 8.
  • Spotsylvania May 8-12.
  • Po River May 10.
  • Spotsylvania Court House May 12-21.
  • Assault on the Salient (“Bloody Angle”) May 12.
  • Harris Farm (or Fredericksburg) Road May 19.
  • North Anna River May 23-26.
  • On line of the Pamunken May 26-28.
  • Totopotomoy May 28-31.
  • Cold Harbor June 1-12.
  • Before Petersburg June 16-18.
  • Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864 to April 2, 1865.
  • Jerusalem Plank Road, Weldon R. R., June 22-23, 1864.
  • Demonstration on North side of the James July 27-29.
  • Deep Bottom July 28-29.
  • Demonstration on North side of the James at Deep Bottom August 13-20.
  • Strawberry Plains August 14-18.
  • Ream’s Station August 25.
  • The Chimneys September 10.
  • Poplar Springs Church September 29-October 2.
  • Yellow House October 2-5.
  • Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run, October 27-28.
  • Raid on Weldon Railroad December 7-12.
  • Dabney’s Mills, Hatcher’s Run, February 5-7, 1865.
  • Watkins’ House March 25. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9.
  • Vaughan Road, near Hatcher’s Run, March 29.
  • Crow’s House March 31.
  • Fall of Petersburg April 2.
  • Sailor’s Creek April 6.
  • Farmville April 7.
  • Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army.
  • March to Washington, D.C., May 2-12.
  • Grand Review May 23.
  • Moved to Louisville, Ky., June 14-21 and duty there till July 12.
  • Mustered out July 12, and discharged at Indianapolis, Ind.

Regiment lost during service 15 Officers and 186 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 113 Enlisted men by disease. Total 314.

December 14, 1861 letter to Sarah Keith from Hiram Crawford Jr.

December 14, 1861

To: Sarah Keith

From: Hiram Crawford Jr., Camp Hamilton, VA

Surprised to learn that the Seely Boys and Charley Long had taken such a course when there is so much at stake. Galesburg hasn’t been very patriotic as far as his friends and schoolmates are concerned [apparently they are shirking military service.] Two fellow soldiers fell asleep while on duty and will be shot in a few days.

1861-12-14 1861-12-14B 1861-12-14C 1861-12-14D

Camp Hamilto[1]           Dec 14th/61


Dear Sister

Yours of the 4th was duly received last Monday. Was very much pleased to hear that yourself and family is in the enjoyment of good helth. I received that letter you spoke of, But as I had written you but a few days before I thought I would not be in a hurry to answer it.

I am somewhat surprised to learn that the Seely boys and Charlie Cory has taken such a course. It was far different from what I expected from them especially when there is so much at stake that to, which will not only effect them but their Children and Childrens Children. In fact I dont think Galesburgh has been very Patriotic at least as far as my old Friends and School Mates are concerned. I received a letter from Mother[3] last week. They were in tolerable good health. Also one from Henry[4]. They were in the enjoyment of the same blessing. I have written to Edwin[5] but have received no answer yet.

The weather has been very pleasant here. We have not had any snow yet. Those that is aquainted with this part of the Country tell me that there will be but very little here. It seems very strange to me who at this time of the year is in the habit of being up to his knees in snow to find myself in a country where there has not been a particle of that article. Also where a farmer might have sun to Plough any day up to this date if he wished.

Nothing much of importance has happened here lately. Almost every day our Gun Boats exchange shots with the Rebel Batteries at Sewell Point[6], or drives back a Rebel Steamer that ventures out from cover of their Batteries, while on land a scouting party starts out towards the enemies lines probably meets a Party of the Enemy on the same errand, exchange shots, kill or wound two or three and return at night pretty well tired out. But these are every day occurrences and create no sensation with us. In a few days probably we will have a witness a very sad scene viz. the shooting of two of our fellow soldiers. Members of the 16th[7] Mass Regmt. Their crime sleeping on Post while doing Picket duty. I cant help but pity the poor fellows, but it is just for on their vigilence depend the safety of the Army. Well I guess I have written about enough this time, so I close by sending love to yourself, Luke[8] and the children also to Lois[9] and Byron[10] and their large Family. Hoping that you will see fit to answer I remain

Ever Your Brother

H Crawford

2nd Sergt

[1] Camp Hamilton was located in proximity to Hampton Roads, near Fort Monroe across the James River from Norfolk, VA

[2] See following page for more information about the 20th Indiana Infantry

[3] Nancy (Comfort) Crawford Betts

[4] Hiram’s brother, Henry Crawford

[5] Hiram’s brother, Edwin Crawford

[6] Sewell Point was the location of the Federal shipyards in Norwalk, VA which were abandoned to the Confederate Army at the beginning of the Civil War

[7] In mid-November, three soldiers from Delaware were found sleeping while on picket duty. When discovered they were immediately awakened and placed under arrest. There was a subsequent court martial and the soldiers were ordered to be shot

[8] Sarah’s husband, Charles Luke Keith, Jr.

[9] Charles Luke Keith, Jr.’s daughter by his first wife, Minerva Payson

[10] Lois’ husband, Byron Clark