I had planned to publish this article on May 12, the anniversary of the battle of Raymond, but it ended up taking longer than I thought. I would also like to thank Laura at the Civilwartalk.com website, who was able to identify the unit that Francis E. Hyde served in.
Raymond is one of my favorite battlefields: I grew up just a few miles from there, attended school there, and have many friends from this beautiful little town. I am happy to share these stories of the battle, and hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.
The day after the battle of Raymond, Mississippi, Corporal Francis E. Hyde of Company B, 32nd Ohio Infantry, took a trip to the Hinds County courthouse. Why he was there is unknown; but that he was there is certain, as the young soldier left behind a memento of his visit. In one of the big leather-bound ledger books used to record the legal details of Chancery Court cases, Hyde found a page and inscribed the following message:
State of Mississippi, Hinds County, April 12, [sic] 1863
Be it remembered by all the citizens of Hinds County, State of Miss., that the Yankees did on
the 12th day of May A.D. 1863 take possession of Raymond by a force of arms and drive the Rebbels from the village. And be it also remembered that the said Yankees not only intend to keep possession of said village of Raymond, but to seize and hold possession of the city of Jackson together with the ballance of the so called Southern Confederacy.
Given under my hand & seal, this Thirteenth day of May A.D. 1863
Francis Hyde’s letter was boastful and cocksure, but he had good reason to be; he and his comrades had won a hard fought victory the day before at the battle of Raymond. His regiment, the 32nd Ohio Infantry, had seen plenty of action the day before; as part of Major General John A. Logan’s Division, XVII Army Corps, Army of Tennessee. The casualties of the 32nd Ohio were never reported, but the other three regiments of their brigade had 18 killed, 85 wounded, and 12 missing. (The Vicksburg Campaign by Edwin C. Bearss, Volume 2, page 516)
After recording his message for posterity, Francis Hyde returned to his unit, for they were in the middle of a campaign, and there was much hard fighting still to be done before Vicksburg fell.
Before the curtain closed on the war, the 32nd Ohio saw action in more than half a dozen major battles, but Hyde survived them all to muster out with the regiment on July 20, 1865, at Louisville, Kentucky.
With the war won, Hyde returned home to Mechanicsburg, Ohio, and eventually married and had several children. On the 1880 U.S. Census, Francis Hyde is listed with his wife Susan, sons Vern and Fred, and sister-in-law Farley Montgomery. He listed his occupation as laborer. (1880 U.S. Census, Champaign County, Ohio, page 227.)
Sometime after the census was taken, the Hyde family moved to Kansas. They were still living there when Frank Hyde passed away on March 13, 1886. He is buried in the First Congregational Church Cemetery in Fowler, Kansas. (Listing for Frank E. Hyde, Findagrave.com.) I found the page with Frank Hyde’s brief message in a subject file at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History on the Battle of Raymond. I could tell that the photostat had come from a ledger book, but which one? The only clue was a single sentence written on the back of the copy saying that it had been donated to the archive by Craig Castle of Jackson in 1953.
I did a search of Newspapers.com searching for the term “Craig Castle,” and in just a few minutes I had my answer: in the April 19, 1953 edition of the Clarion-Ledger, I found an article written by Castle entitled “Yankee’s Calling Card – Left at Raymond in 1863 is still there.” The article detailed how Castle had found Frank Hyde’s message in one of the ledger books from the Raymond Chancery Court. The only problem was that in the article, Castle never specifies which book he found the note in. I can already see that a trip to the Raymond Courthouse is in my immediate future.
Frank Hyde’s message alone was quite a find, but it turns out he was not the only soldier to sign the Chancery Court ledger. Down at the very bottom of the same page that Hyde wrote on was the following message, written by someone with a shaky hand and absolutely no idea how to spell “Raymond.”
It took me a few minutes to decipher the poor handwriting, but I eventually translated the following message:
Rheamond, Mississippi, May 14th 1863
Thomas J. Bunch a private of Company g, 3 Tenn. Vols., Captain David Rheas Company, C.H. Walker Colonel Commanding, 3 Tennessee regiment volunteers.
Thomas J. Bunch
Co. G, 3 Tennessee regt. volunteers
I did a search of the Confederate service records on Fold3.com, and soon had the scoop
on Thomas J. Bunch. He enlisted as a private in Company G, 3rd Tennessee Infantry (Clack’s), on November 14, 1862, in Pulaski, Tennessee. His muster roll for June 30 – August 14, 1863 listed Bunch as “Captured and paroled at Raymond, May 12, 1863.”
I went back to my online newspaper databases, but didn’t find anything on Private Bunch. I did however find a very interesting account of the Battle of Raymond from another member of the 3rd Tennessee Infantry. Benjamin Franklin Herron was a private in Company K, 3rd Tennessee Infantry, and the following letter from him was published in the Hinds County Gazette on April 19, 1907:
From a Boy Soldier
Graham, Texas, April 9, 1907
Mrs. J. R. Eggleston, Raymond, Miss.
Dear Mrs. Eggleston: I noticed in the “Veteran” that your chapter was making an effort to
raise funds sufficient to enclose, with an iron fence, the graves of the soldiers who were killed in the battle of Raymond, and to erect a monument to their memory. I was wounded in the battle of Raymond, on the 12th day of May, 1863. Never have I, nor will I ever forget how tenderly we wounded Rebels were nursed and cared for by the noble ladies of Raymond and surrounding country.
I was captured and carried from the battlefield to the home of a Mr. McDonald. At this Southern home I met his daughter, Miss Myra, who nursed and cared for me while I was at her father’s house, and after I was sent to the court house at Raymond, she continued her kindness to me. She is now a Mrs. Dennis and lives at Jackson, Miss. Her daughter, Miss Ida, a beautiful girl, paid me a visit some years ago.
I will mention the names of several ladies that I remember: Miss Laura Brown, Miss Johnie Jenkins and sister, Miss Kate Nelson and a Mrs. Reynolds who lived several miles from Raymond. Would be proud to hear from any of these ladies, for I love them all.
I enclose you postoffice money order for $5.00 to be used in your noble efforts, as herein mentioned.
I was 15 years, 2 months, and 13 days old the day I was wounded. I was a member of Company K, Third Tennessee Infantry, General Gregg’s Brigade. I would appreciate a letter from any of the within mentioned ladies, and if desired, would be pleased to give a write up of my experience while at Raymond.
Yours in true Southern love,
Frank Herron never forgot the care he received from the people of Raymond, and he wrote of them fondly on several occasions. In 1912 Mamie Yeary of McGregor, Texas, published a book of Texas Confederate veteran’s recollections of the war entitled Reminiscences of the Boys in Gray 1861 – 1865. One of the soldiers who had a story in the book was Frank Herron. His reminiscence from this publication can be found online here: http://battleofraymond.org/history/herron1.htm.