Heman Smith (or Evans)

This letter was written by Heman Smith (1842-1915) of Co. K, 4th Michigan Infantry. It was written on the reverse side of a letter that Eri House used to send his letter to Charles Bates of Dexter on the same date. Heman enlisted on 20 June 1861 when he was 19 years old. He was promoted to Full Provost Guard. He was attached to Co. K, Michigan 1st Infantry Regiment on 02 Jul 1864. Mustered out on 26 Feb 1866 at San Antonio, TX.

Heman was the son of William Evans (1793-1845) and Rosetta Walker (1825-1880). When he enlisted, he signed the roll book as Heman Smith, opting to use his stepfather’s surname rather than Evans. In 1860, he was enumerated in the household of hotel keeper Amos Bentley in Scio, Washtenaw county, Michigan, where he worked as a day laborer. Heman’s letter reveals he had only a rudimentary education.

In 1867, Heman married Sarah M. Weed (1847-1901) in Wayne, Michigan. He started using “Evans” after his step-father’s death in 1864.

This letter is the property of the Dexter Area Historical Museum and is used with their expressed permission.


[August 4, 1861]

Dear Friend,

Charley, I would like to hear from you. I guess you have forgot me. I wrote to Henry and told him to tell you to write to me. Now I must stop. So goodbye. You must write to me soon.

— Heman Smith




The following letter was written by Heman Smith while he was still serving as a Provost Guard at the headquarters of The 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Army Corps. It was written to his friend Charles Bates in Dexter, Michigan. The letter is provided through the courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

____________________________________________________________________________________________  TRANSCRIPTION

May 20th, 1864

Dear Friend1,

Your letter has now come to hand [and] I was glad to hear from you and to hear that you were well. I am well at present but I don’t know how long I will remain so. I saw the 20th [Michigan Infantry] regiment the other day. They are all right, [that is] what is [still] alive. Charley Blood2 was killed and Billy VanFleet3, they don’t know what has become of him. I saw all of the rest of the boys.

Charley, our regiment has lost heavy. As soon as I can get in camp so that I can write, I will tell you all the boys that is killed in the company. I suppose that you have heard that William Cunningham4 was killed and (that) Daniel Poyer5 was killed on the skirmish line. And another fellow by the name of Waterman6 [was killed]. There was three killed and five wounded in our company. I can’t write now. Four other fellows is fighting in front [of me]. The shell came overhead where I am sitting. You can see by the writing. So you will excuse this letter Charley. You spoke about the ring. I will send it to you as soon as I get in a place that I can. If I should send it to you now you might not get it. I will send it soon and when you write again direct [the letter] to;

Heman Smith


2nd Brigade

1st Division, 5th Corps

Write soon and oblige your friend,



1This letter was written to Charles Bates of Dexter, Michigan.

2Private Charles Blood of Webster, Michigan, enlisted in Co. D of the 20th Michigan Infantry on Feb. 8, 1864. He was killed in action on May 12, 1864 at Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia.

3Private William VanFleet of Scio, Michigan, enlisted in Co. D of the 20th Michigan Infantry on Aug. 8, 1862. He was captured at Spotsylvania Court House, Va. On May 12, 1864. He was later exchanged on Dec. 15, 1864.

4Sergeant William Cunningham, Co. K, Fourth Michigan Infantry. He was killed in action at the Wilderness, Va. On May 6, 1864.

5Private Daniel Poyer, Co. K, Fourth Michigan Infantry. He was killed in action at Spotsylvania Court House Va. On May 10, 1864.

6Private Willis Waterman, Co. K, Fourth Michigan Infantry, was killed in action at the Wilderness, Va. On May 5, 1864.