Lewis Simonds was born June 15, 1834, in Antrim, New Hampshire, the son of Benjamin and Betsey Simonds. In 1860, he lived in Nashua and worked as a bedstead maker. On August 7, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company F of the 9th New Hampshire Infantry, and the following October, his musical abilities earned him a transfer to the band of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, in which he played the baritone horn. He remained with that band through the end of his enlistment to June 1865.
In January 1864, Simonds and his band were stationed in Kentucky, but in April, they followed their commander, Ambrose E. Burnside, eastward to assist in the spring campaigns in Virginia. The band played through the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg campaigns, but was mainly posted with brigade headquarters and in the rear of the lines, outside the line of fire, and thus experienced a milder war than soldiers in battle.
After mustering out of the service as Musician 2nd Class on June 10, 1865, Simonds moved to Mankato, Minnesota. He married Henrietta Coombs on September 18, 1871; they had two daughters and a son. The family returned to Antrim, and there, on October 29, 1893, Simonds died suddenly of paralysis and heart trouble stemming from a malarial infection contracted during the war.