Michigan in the Civil War

Browse by Name: Tracy, Robert F.

Lyon, Sanford W., 1838-

Sanford W. Lyon, from his papers

Lyon, of Grand Rapids, Mich., enlisted in Company B, 21st Michigan Infantry, as sergeant, August 9, 1862. He was commissioned first lieutenant of Company A, September 24, 1863 and commanded the Company from June 11, 1864 to March 1865. He was wounded in action at Bentonville, N. C., March 19, 1865.

Four letters, 1862-1863, are concerned chiefly with the illness and death of Henry L. Tracy, and the disposal of his effects.

The collection includes two letters written by Henry L. Tracy to his parents in 1862 while he was serving in Company B, 21st Michigan Infantry. The November 12 letter gives a vivid description of the country they marched through from Louisville to Nashville. There were log houses and frame barns. Some houses had been deserted and broken into; rail fences had been burned, and cornfields stripped and burned. The people seemed ignorant. He saw only two schoolhouses, evidently not used in years. He visited folks in a log cabin, which he said was "not fit for hogs." A small girl was smoking a pipe.

They spent two days guarding a railroad, and foraged for apples, peaches, potatoes, butter. There was a review of the army by General Rosecrans.

Henry's mother was concerned about what they had to eat, and he listed their rations and described their meals when in camp and also on the march. They were on picket duty and chased some rebels. The rebels fled, but they had a "skirmish with some turkeys and took a good many prisoners." They often lived well on what they could take from rebel farmers when their own officers, who forbade such pilfering, didn't catch them.Henry was taken prisoner at Stones River, December 31, 1862, and died from typhoid fever on February 1, 1863.

A letter, written by Hiram Haskell, ward master from University Hospital No. 2, Nashville, February 17, 1863, tells Henry Tracy's father about the death of Henry and about the beautiful National Cemetery in which he is buried.

There are also three letters written by Robert F. Tracy, Henry's brother. He was not a soldier, but was engaged in various activities in the South to earn a living for his family--officer's clerk, sutler's clerk, teamster, wagon master. Sometimes he was out of work; once he was taken prisoner with a government supply train; another time he was in a Fort Scott, Ark. hospital for about three weeks. There is no other record concerning him.