Captain's letter describing the last moments of a son's life at Five Forks


Date Written

April 15, 1865

History Referenced

Luman Tenney was 23 years old when this was written.
Luman Tenney died 14 years, 9 months, 30 days after writing it.
It was written 158 years, 5 months, 20 days ago.
It was a Saturday.

Camp 2nd O.V.V.C.
April 15, 1865
Near Nottaway, Va.

Mr. Lewis,
Dear Sir:

Thinking I might give you a little more light in regard to the death of your noble son Richard, I write again.

It was at the battle of Five Forks, four miles from the southside R.R. and eight from Dinwiddie C.H. The New York World, a copy of which is in the Cleveland Herald of the 7th, I think, gives the best account of the battle I have seen.

The enemy was behind heavy works--The Cavalry had charged twice and been repulsed and our line was about three hundred yards from the works of the enemy when Richard was struck by a piece of shell just above the left cheek bone, passing through the lower part of his head and coming out just below and back of the right ear--he lived about five minutes but could say nothing. Captain Chester stood by his side behind the same tree when he was hit and asked him if he could live and he shook his head. He then was lying down, supporting himself upon his elbow, his head upon his hand, bleeding very profusely.

After we had finished the victory late in the night, Sergt. Randall and some of his comrades buried his body with that of Sergt. Rose of A.A. who was killed near him when they fell. They marked their grave by driving down round poles at the head and foot of the grave. The pole at the head of the grave was partly cut by a shell. I was busy caring for my brother while he lived and for his remains when dead as I should have given my personal attention to the burial. Sergt. Randall has Richards pocket book containing $70.00 and a ring and watch which he will forward to you as soon as possible by mail or express. Many more of the 2nd Ohio have fallen since that day. We are thankful that the victory is finally ours, though so dearly purchased. I think that our friends will let brother Theodore's remains rest where they are. May God bless the mourners throughout the land."

Luman H. Tenney
Capt. 2nd O.V.V.C.

Scans of Letter