Sid Anderson sat down to write a letter. He was in the army a long way from home and like any soldier in any war he wanted to assure his family that he was safe and in good spirits. His parents had just sent him some stamps and news of his neighbors in home town of Liverpool New York.
The date was May 17, 1862, and Sidney C. Anderson's unit was camped "in a nice clover patch" at White House, a New Kent County Plantation owned by the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. He was in Company H, 12th New York Volunteer Infantry, a part of McClellan's Army, and had just marched on the muddy road from Cumberland Plantation to White House.
Sid had joined the army a year before with other young men from New York's Onondaga County. The unit first fought at Blackburn's Ford, a few days before the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run). For the next year the 12th saw little action and suffered few casualties. Now they were 22 miles from Richmond. The Rebels were retreating, and ahead lay the conquest of the Confederate Capitol. The next letter, he said, would be written from Richmond.
Sid Anderson never reached Richmond. On June 27, 1862, forty days after writing the letter, Sidney C. Anderson, age 25, was killed at Gaines' Mill in Hanover County, miles away from his home and family.
The letter is full of positive images and news about camp life and his friends from home. It contains nothing of the horrors of war, and no hint of his fate. It's a snapshot of a moment in time, full of the present and ignorant of the future. It's a part of our history.