Nelson Truman Hazen was born in Azalia, Michigan on September 24, 1845. He was just shy of seventeen years of age when he enlisted as a Private in Company G of the Fourth Michigan Volunteer Infantry on September 9, 1862, for three years service. Nelson served on detached duty with Company G of the First Michigan Infantry, by order July 2, 1864, Petersburg, Virginia. While serving with the First Michigan Infantry, Nelson was wounded in the left arm and right thigh in the early part of 1865 and was sent to the hospital at City Point, Virginia. On April 21, 1865, Nelson returned to his regiment and served until he was discharged on June 5, 1865, at Arlington Heights, Virginia. After the war Nelson married Ellen Shaw in December of 1868. She died in 1872 shortly after giving birth to their daughter. Nelson later married his second wife, Matolda Brion, in 1878. Nelson had taken up farming and growing fruit after the war and eventually died on August 12, 1915. He’s buried in Azalia Cemetery, in Azalia, Michigan.
The following letter was written by Private Nelson Hazen to his friend from Myron L. Winters, who from the Milan, Michigan area. Myron originally served as a Private in Company A of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry, having enlisted in August of 1862. Myron was back home in Michigan at the time that this letter was written to him as he had been discharged in July of 1863. Five weeks after receiving Nelson’s letter, Myron would enlist as a Private in Company H of the Eighteenth Michigan Infantry. Myron survived the war, but died in 1911 and is also buried in Azalia Cemetery.
Camp at Bealton Station, Va.
February 19, 1864
Friend Myron Winters,
It is with pleasure that I am now seated by our little table and a comfortable fire to write a few lines to you. You have probably heard how I was court-martial-ed for being behind time. I did not stay to the hospital long, but while I was there, they kept me to work and I got sick of it and told them that if I was fit for duty that I wanted to go to my regt., and I would not have as much to do to the front as they made me do there. And I was glad to get away and I went to the Soldier’s Retreat and stayed there all night. And the next morning I went to Alexandria [Virginia] and they said all drawed us up in line and told all the recruits to step 2 paces to the front, and all men wishing to go to their regt. to step one pace to the front. I stuck to the line and the doctor came around to examine us and when he came around to me and asked me what was the matter, I put on a bold face and told him I had a lame back and he passed on with a grin. They gave me my furlough when we left Washington [D.C.] and it was wrote on “A deserter but returned”. It did not suit me very well. But I had to take it as it come and after I had been there a spell, they sent for me to come up to headquarters and they gave me a paper clearing me from the charge of desertion. And the next day I went down to Alexandria and drawed my ration money and then came back and heard that they was examining the 5th Corps and was going to send them off the next day. And [so] I went up to headquarters and told them to put me down for my regt. and we came through the next day and I got here about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, an my cousins had a nice little place waiting for me. So you can see that I was rigged for winter. The regt. is doing guard duty at the station [in] Bealton [Virginia]. We are guarding commissary stores and the like, so you can see [that] we have enough to do. That is, we have all we want anyway. We draw soft bread every day and other rations enough, and [we] have plenty of good water handy. So you see, we do not starve, but have plenty to eat, such as it is, and we can get plenty of good hickory wood drawed for 50 cents a load. There has [been] a hundred [and] between 20 and 30 [who have] enlisted for three years more. They are the boy[s] to fight the Rebs. If the old three years men can’t fight them, I don’t know where you will find men that can. They gave me a gun the 2nd day after I got here.
No more at present. I have written this in a hurry and I want you to excuse all [of the] poor spelling and writing [as] it is getting dark.
This from a friend,
Nelson T. Hazen
When you write, direct [it] to:
Co. G 4th Mich. Inf. Vol.
Washington D. C.
I do not know as [to whether] I spell[ed] your name right.