The Mead family papers contain 28 letters written between October 10, 1861, and July 17, 1863. Henry Mead wrote 21 of the letters to his parents and siblings during his service in Company I, 10th Connecticut Infantry. Other letter writers include Henry’s friend William Long, who was also a member of Company I, as well as a soldier named Willis, likely Willis Mead of the 6th New Hampshire Infantry, and Henry’s father, Sanford Mead. George Pease, “Nellie,” and “Deak” contributed three additional letters; their connection to the Meads is unclear.
Henry Mead’s letters shed light on his six months of service with the 10th Connecticut Infantry, before his death from typhoid fever in April 1862. He provided details of camp life, drilling, sailing on the schooner E.W. Farrington , and the religious activities of soldiers. He was a dedicated participant in informal religious “meetings” held in tents, and discussed them throughout his correspondence. On December 10, 1861, he wrote, “there was one thing that made the meeting rather more solom to night was the loosing of our men last night… It made a deep thought on my mind for I thought why was it not I instead of him.” In his letter of October 29, 1861, he described getting his photograph taken in uniform and having money stolen from his pocketbook. Although Mead’s battle descriptions are sparse, he frankly expressed his anxiety and fear of death before fighting at Roanoke (February 8, 1862).