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Lyman K. Raymond


After a few scant weeks of training, Lyman K. Raymond experienced his first Civil War engagement outside the town of Okolona, Mississippi against Confederate Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Of the battle that took place on this day, February 22, 1864, Raymond recorded the following entry in his journal: "we destroid 15 miles [of] Mississippi Central R[ail] R[oad]. Burnt $2,000,000 worth of cotton and several million lbs. of corn. I was taken prisoner, but mad[e] my escape.

Lyman K. Raymond was born in Jamestown, New York on October 23, 1845. His family moved to Illinois a few years later, where, at the age of eighteen, he enlisted in the 3rd Illinois Veteran Volunteer Cavalry in December of 1864. Over the next year and a half Raymond participated in numerous noteworthy events including the 1864 Battle of Nashville, Tennessee and the presidential election. While on furlough, he recorded, "...voted for A. Lincoln in Nov. 1864, but was not Twenty One. the Judge of the Election knew me and said if I was old enough to shoot rebels I was old enough to vote and vote I did."

The summer of 1865, following the surrender of Robert E. Lee at Appomattox, witnessed the return of hundreds of thousands of solders to their homes. Raymond, however, was not among them. By July of 1865, he instead found himself participant in General Alfred Sully's expedition into Dakota Territory. As evidenced from a series of journal entries from August of that year, the members of the expedition found little to fill their long days on the hot prairie,

"Weds, Aug 23: Same camp on the Shian River...very lon[e]some hear I shall be glad when we leave hear fore good.

"Thur, Aug 24: Same camp nothin new..."

"Fri, Aug 25: Killed one buffalo. in camp at the same place

"Sat, Aug 26: in camp at the same place. not any news in camp

"Sun, Aug 27: in Camp at the same place it looks like rain

Raymond was discharged from the army in October 1865 at which time he returned to Illinois. Having saved enough money on his $13 a month army pay, he took up the harness makers' trade, established his own business, married and had three children. But the memories of his experience in Dakota Territory must not have been without some redemption. At the age of 62, Raymond packed up his family and moved to Grand Forks, ND. Shortly after his arrival in 1907, he took the occasion to revisit several of the places he had encountered in 1865, noting that much had changed from his earlier recollections. The state he once described as "very lonesome" would remain the home of Lyman K. Raymond until his death in 1918.

Written by Christina Sunwall


"L.K. Raymond: Over Dakota Plains, 1865". North Dakota Historical Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3 (April 1928): 217-226