Silas Edward Mead, or "Sile Ed" as he preferred to be called, was the son of Silas Deliverance Mead and Emily Louisa Close. He had six brothers and sisters, Myrtilla ("Tillie"), Emily Cornelia ("Corneal"), Sarah Clarissa, Horatio, Harriet ("Hattie"), and Ezekial ("Zeke").
Silas had a very close relationship with his older sister Tillie, and most of his letters from the battlefront are addressed to her. Silas was only eighteen years old when he enlisted in the Union Army in August 1862, in Company I, 10th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. He served in twenty-five battles, never had a furlough home to Greenwich, and was never wounded or ill. He was mustered out of the army June 21, 1865, two months short of his three years of service.
During the war he wrote 218 letters home to family members, and his letters provide a vivid picture of a soldier's life during the war, including the brutality of war, the diseases that claimed many soldier's lives, and the homesickness that affected many soldiers including Silas. He wrote to his sister that "If it was not for the letters, it would be dull sport soldiering" and "I do not know how I could soldier without [letters]."