Charles Goddard

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St. Patrick's Day,
March 17, 1863

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1861-1864

User's Guide

Charles E. Goddard's Letters July, 1863

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Charles E. Goddard

Charles Goddard was born in Union County, Pennsylvania, May 14, 1845. 
When he was seven he came to Winona with his family in 1852.  He grew
up in Winona with one of his childhood friends, Charles Ely, who also
joined Company K.  He and his friends led a carefree life in the small
but growing Upper Mississippi river town.  Although his mother was
one of the most respected citizens of the town, Charles actively engaged in 
the pursuit of a Mississippi River boyhood. 
He swam the river, which was reputed to be quite a feat. 
He and his chums were also blamed for starting a fire on the prairie
which got out of control and burned down a few buildings.   Charles'
adventuresome nature is characterized in his September 21, 1863 letter
in which he describes his visit to New York City when he was trying
to find and rejoin Company K and the 1st Regiment which had been
sent to New York to restore order after the Draft Riot of July, 1863. 

Charles was mustered into Company K of the 1st Minnesota Regiment on April 29, 1861.  
He was 16 years of age--a fact noted by his mother in a poem she wrote in his honor. 

Birthday Poemx.JPG (8239 bytes)

Charles wrote regularly to his mother throughout the war.  Over eighty of
his letters were deposited in the Minnesota Historical Society by his brother
Orrin Smith, who Charles mentioned in almost every letter home.

Charles was seriously ill during the Battle of Bull Run and was in the hospital
during that campaign.  While in the hospital a physician who found Charles
true age to be 17 at that time issued him a discharge.  Upon returning
to his company, Charles sought out the advice of his company commander. 
He told Captain Henry  Lester that he did not want a discharge but wanted
to stay with his comrades in arms.   Lester replied that he did
not have to accept the discharge.  Charles followed Lester's advice and served
until the regiment was mustered out.  Apparently he told his mother about this
discharge because a careful reading of his correspondence to his mother indicates
that she urged him to accept the discharge-which became moot after he reached
the age of 18.  Mrs. Goddard's concern is understandable when one realizes that
only two of her eight children reached the age of eight.

Charles maintained his commitment to Company K after the war. Among his letters
is a list of the members of Company K with notes on promotions, wounds,
death, current occupation and place of residence for many of his comrades.

After his discharge, Charles held a number of jobs in Winona.  He was related
to some of the most prestigious men in Winona who were in the process
of becoming lumber barons.  Apparently he did not take advantage of
these family connections but sought to advance on his own
merits.  He ran for Winona County Recorder of  Deeds in 1868 and in a
hard-fought, close election he defeated his Democratic party opponent.  
Unfortunately a few weeks after the election he fell ill and died
December 9, 1868. He was 23 years old.   His childhood friend and
comrade in arms Charles Ely delivered the eulogy.

Charles Goddard is the featured character in a new novel Soldier's Heart,
New York: Doubleday, 1998, written for youth by the award winning author,
Gary Paulsen.  It is an interesting book and will probably be widely read, but 
unfortunately it distorts the historical record which is actually richer than the fictional 
one presented. I know that creative writers are not held to the same standards which 
historians follow but, Paulsen states in the Author's Note that, "I have had to take some 
minor liberties with timing...."  He took liberties with more than timing. Paulsen's characterization
of Goddard oversimplifies the historical record and does not present a true characterization of a
complex, fascinating and perceptive Charlie Goddard. From the historical record it is evident that 
he had an unusual sense of purpose and self-knowledge for a person of his age.  
The author infers from his untimely death that Goddard suffered from post-traumatic 
stress syndrome, a conclusion implied without any evidence. The figure that emerges in the 
novel is a poor shadow to the historical Charlie Goddard whose character and personality 
are revealed in the many letters he wrote to his mother and the historical record.  
Certainly many veterans of the Civil War suffered from trauma
induced by the horror of war and Goddard may have been one of them, but such a 
judgment, even in a novel, should be based on evidence.  

 

 

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 2nd Corps Field Hospital, Gettysburg, July, 1864
(Library of Congress)

 

 

 

Charles Goddard's Letter to his Mother, July 4, 1863

 

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Division Hospital near Gattiesburg

Pa July 4th 1863

Dear Mother

We have engaged the enemy again but this time in a free country and our company as well as the regt has suffered much Ely and myself are bothe wounded. Ely through the side and myself through the leg and shoulder. I do not know where Ely is this morning . . .   very dangerous. I am not dangerously wounded, feel first rate and I would like you to give yourself no uneasiness on my account, nor do I think there is any need of Mrs Ely worrying about her son I have not seen him for I am not able to help myself on account of my leg or I would have gone to his assistance, he was fetched off the field and brought to the hospital where I was and then the hospital was moved again and I have not seen him since. Capt J. Periam is wounded badly Sargt Marvin, Corp Kiely, Durfee, Eaton Hanson Behr, Einfeldt and Sargt Carpenter slightly. I Durr badly. Killed Corp L P Gore, Private Taylor, Geisritter, Smith, Winters, Vosz, These I know of how many more I dont know.

[Top of page] Colonel, Lieut Colnel, Major and Adjutant are all wounded out of our Regt.]

Well mother good bye dont be so foolish as to come down here and worry about me for I am getting along fine dont let anybody see this letter but if they want to know if any of theire friends are wounded you can tell them. The Chaplain will make out an official report and then the people of Minn will know the true story.

C. E. Goddard

 

[Letter in four fragments, written in pencil]

 

 

 

 

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This letter from Charles Goddard to his mother appeared in the July 16th issue of the  Winona Daily Republican. It was probably written between July 5th and the 8th when Goddard and the other wounded soldiers from the First Regiment were still in a field hospital near GettysburgAn excerpt of a letter written on July 9th also appeared in this article.

Winona Daily Republican, July 16, 1863

FROM OUR WOUNDED SOLDIERS AT Get-
tysburg.-- We have been favored with the
perusal of some private letters from a wi-
nona soldier in the hospital ("if not in camp,
in hospital somewhere in the woods near
Gettysburg," as the writer expresses it),
from which we make some extracts. The
writer--Chas Goddard--says:
"Dear Mother:--Charley Ely and myself are here, get-
ting along fine. Ely is wounded pretty badly, but I
think he will get along all right. He was struck in the
right breast, the ball passing through him. My wounds
are slight compared with the other men in our company.
Chas North got struck slightly, but is not reported on
the wounded list.
Capt. Joseph Periam, of our company, died this morn-
ing. [July 7] He had not been sensible for twelve hours previous.
He was shot in the face, on the right side of the nose,
and the ball came out on the left side of the head, back
of the ear, making a hole that you could put an egg into.
I rather think we have given the Rebs the worst of it
this time. But if I ever saw such a leather, wooden
country as Southern Pennsylvania, I hope to be shot
again. There is no patriotism; everybody is stingy
mean. Our men sent out to get some old sheets for ban-
dages, and the natives said "they had none to give
away but would sell some." (They are wealthy people,
too.)
The Pennsylvania Volunteers are loud in their curses
against Southern Pennsylvania--worse than any of the
New York and western troops You can't see a citizen
any where, only around gratifying their curiosity. Now in
Maryland the citizens just swarmed after the battle of
Antietam, took care of the wounded--and did everything
they could."
Another letter from the writer of the fore-
going, under date of the 9th inst., says that
up to that date there had been no surgeons
in attendance on the wounded, except at the
amputation tables, which were kept running
constantly since the battle. The Sanitary
commission had just arrived, well provided
with articles necessary to the relief and com-
fort of the wounded, a fact which greatly
encouraged the writer and his comrades

 

July 19. 1863

 

July 19, 1863

Genl Hospital

Broad & Cherry Street

Philadelphia Pa

Dear Mother

Since I have come here I have found Chas Ely he is in ward B of this Hosp and he is doing finely he can walk
around seemingly without exerting himself I am getting along fine but cannot walk without crutches. I think it
will not be very long before I can hobble around. I was much surprised when we came to Baltimore to see the
Ladies and men fly around to get us something to eat and drink and wash our wounds put new clothes on us
and treat us fine When we went to Washington in 1861 we passed through Baltimore with rounds of cartridges
in our box and one in our guns expecting to be fired into by the citizens of the City. We recd great attention
from the Ladies and Gentlemen of the city of Wilmington State of Deleware, the railroad being being litterly
lined with men women and children for over a mile eery thing you could wish for they had to give us and it
was about 10 or 11 o’clock when we came through there. There is at the present time about 700 Patients
in this hospital and we find it pretty hard place to get out if we was able, the windows having locks on them
and wire over the outside to prevent any person from getting out but if the officers can keep me in here after
I get well enough to go out they will have to keep there left eye open I am bound to see the city of Philadelphia
before I leave for the Regt. I would like to go up in Union Co but I have not the money so I will have to remain here.

Well Mother Good by I have no news to write

Respects to all Friends

Love to Brother

And do not forget your self

C. E. Goddard

July 26, 1863

 

Broad and Cherry Street Philadelphia July 26th 1863

Dear Brother Orren Mother is with me, she is stoping at the hotell not far from here, she says you
are out to Uncle Johns and I know you are getting along fine for you must be a pretty brave boy by
this time Mother is coming back to Winona in a few days Good by Charley

Uncle JC

Mother desired me to write a few lines to Brother and knowing as I do that he is with you I take the
liberty to direct in your name also to write a few lines to you Mother arrived here a few days ago, it
surprised me very much indeed to see her comming up the steps in this ward and Mrs Ely her
companion They have been distributing eatibles to the wounded 1st wine cake jelly and c but it
is against orders and I think they had better do as all the rest do that at first thinking the matron
would not give it to the 1st Winona boys The Matron gives to those that she has on her diet book
and they ar soldiers that are wounded so bad they cant eat the regular grub that is served to us,
so if a Winona boy happens to be on the diet book he will rec the same attention that any body does
All of the boys out of our Company are getting along fine. Most all in this Hosp are slightly wounded
only a few bad or as the Doctor calls them "interesting cases" They are drafting in the city now no
body attempts to resist the draft. There are about 700 Patiants in this Hospt, some 72 in this
Ward. Mother and Mrs Ely went out to Chestnuts Hill Hospt looking up the Min boys yesterday,
they found a good many names there and saw a good many of the Regt Tell Brother Mother
desired him to be a good boy untill she comes back I thought I would write a few words so that
he could read them, maby it will pleas him I read a letter from Laird McCormic and he says that
Aunt and Mr Miller are down to Gran Father. Gran Father and Miller went as far as Harrisburg for
state defence Nothing more at present With respect CE Goddard

Respects to Aunt and Mrs Black Love to Brother and Willie

 

August 30, 1863

 

U. S. Genl. Hospital Broad & Cherry St

Philaxd Pxa Aug 30th 1863

Dear Mother

I have been anxously waiting for a few lines from you since I last wrote but I had no idea you
wer sick until Mrs Eaton came down here to see her son. She said you had been pretty sick,
but you wer much better when she left. I was glad to hear that for you will likely soon recover.

I think I shall go to the Regiment in the course of a couple of weeks. I am sory to say that in
all probability what boys are in the hospitalfrom our Co without their descriptive list will not
get any pay. I have been down stairs to see if Charley ely’s & my lists were here but nary one
….the clerks tell me we cannot get any pay without them. I thought one might get two months
pay for we had been mustered for that in the Army but they say here No. I have no clothing nor
can I get any until my descriptive comes and when will that be. To tell the truth I have to go to
the Regt. For clothing. Our Regiment are on governor’s Island N.Y. Harbor, how long they will
remain their they are ignorant. Colonel Colville is now a Brigadier, making the 5 Brigadier the
1st Minnesota has made since they have been in the servise. One of the Lieutenants of our
Regiment stepped off the boat at alexandria and drowned. There is Nothing of importance
to write more. With my respects to all the Friends and love to Brother Orren and yourself I
remain your son C. E. Goddard

I am very much
Obliged to you for
That silver half
Dollar. I would
Like very much
To send this coat
To you but I have
Nothing els to ware
Give my respects
To cousen Heleen and
A kiss to little Franky

September 21, 1863

 

Camp Distribution

Va Sept 21st 1863

Dear Mother

Supposing the regiment in NY I left the Broad and Cherry Street Hospital the tenth of this
month and arrived at N York City about 4 o’clock the morning of the 11th to find the 1st
Minnesota Regt gone for Alexandria and from there the Provost Marshall sent us to
Gov [Governor’s ]Island to await transportation, there we staid until the 16th then we
embarked for Alexandria on board of the Atlantic and after a rough sail of 4 days
and nights we arrived here in this distribution camp. I am quite well. Expect to stay
here some 2 weeks and I think it would be safe for you to write me here.

With this short letter to show you whare I am and love to Brother Orrin I remain
Your Son

Charles E. Goddard

P.S.

I saw Trinity Church
Barnum’s M
City Hall Astor House
Wall Street
Tombs
&
Broadway in what
Time I was in N York City. I do not
mean the inside but just the
buildings. I often had a desire
to see N York City & now I
can say I have saw it.

 

 

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