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May 14, 2012

Private Charles Goddard to his mother enclosing the discharge papers he received but refused to use – May 14, 1862

Filed under: Civil War Daybook — Lori Williamson @ 9:00 am

Transcription of letter from Private Charles Goddard of the 1st Minnesota Regiment to his mother, Catherine Smith, from West Point, Virginia, enclosing the discharge papers he received but refused to use. Goddard claimed to be eighteen years old upon volunteering to serve with the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1861. In fact, he was fifteen years old.

“Westpoint Va May 14th 1862
Dear Mother[,] I wrote a few lines to you a day or two ago and inclosed a few dollars to you[.] It was so near dress parad time when I sent it I could not write much. You requested me in your letter to keep my discharge as a relick[.] I will send it to you and you can do as you have a mind with it[.] if I keep it with me it runs a good chance of being lost. I would like to know whose Bible that was you sent me[.] I do not reckolect of ever seeing it in our hom[.] I am getting along fine now[;] healthy as could be expected[.] That shirt you sent me is jest the thing I worked for I can wosh it so much better than the Government shirts[;] they are so stif and white besids[.]
I was very sorry to hear you had come all the way to Washington to see me and was disappointed[.] I suppose Orry is going to school[;] tell him I want him to write as soon as he can learn to write[.] I was in swimming yesterday in the Pamunkey river[.] I was all covered with mud when I come out[.] it is not as good a place to swim as in the Mississippia. We had very good news last night[;] the capture of Norfolk and the blowing up of the Merrimack also the [re…] of the Rebble fleet on the Mississippia and the sinking of two of there floats[.] I have Cousin Smith Goddards likeness in my pocket[.] I do not like to carry it around so I will do it up and send it to you. I suppose Corporal Stebbins [Samuel E. Stebbins, 1st Minnesota, Company K] told you about my Bull Run scrape[.] I never could write to you and tell you exactly how it was. I will tell you how I hapend to get my discharge papers[.] I was laying on the bed with my cloths on and there was a doctor come in[;] one that did not belong to my ward[.] he asked me how old I was[.] I supposed he only wanted to know to satisfy himself so I told him I was 17 years[.] he did not say anything but continued to make his rounds from room to room and the first thing I know he handed me a discharge[.] I took it and saw what it was[.] I said nothing but maid for the Regiment and told Capt H [Henry] C Lester I did not want a discharge[.] he told me I need not take it unless I wanted to[.] this is the way the thing was arranged[.]
Give my respects to all of my friends[.] tell Cousin Hellen she must write to me once and awhile[.]
Your Son C.E. Goddard
The enclosed “Certificate of Disability for Discharge” paper is signed by Assistant Surgeon Joseph R. Smith and reads, in part:
I certify, that I have carefully examined the said Chas. Goddard of Captain H. C. Lester’s Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of […] youth, being but seventeen years of age.”

See whole letter and both sides of discharge order: 1862-05-14_combined

Citation: May 14, 1862 Letter from Charles Goddard to his mother, Correspondence 1853-1862. Smith, Orrin Fruit and Family Papers, 1829-1932. Minnesota Historical Society. [P1434 box 1]

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