Christopher Howser Keller letters, 1861-1865 (majority within 1862-1865)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Keller, Caroline Matilda Hall, 1842-1909 and Keller family
- This collection is made up of letters that Christopher H. Keller of the 124th Illinois Infantry Regiment and Albert C. Cleavland of the 42nd Illinois Infantry Regiment wrote to the Keller family and to Caroline M. Hall during the Civil War. The soldiers described their experiences in the South, including engagements with Confederate troops and guerillas, interactions with local civilians, travel between posts, and life in military camps. They occasionally discussed their feelings about the war and about political issues such as the presidential election of 1864.
- 192 items
- James S. Schoff Civil War Collection
- Collection processed and finding aid created by Clements Staff and Meg Hixon, October 2013
- Scope and Content:
This collection is made up of letters written that Christopher H. Keller of the 124th Illinois Infantry Regiment and Albert C. Cleavland of the 42nd Illinois Infantry Regiment wrote to the Keller family and to Caroline M. Hall during the Civil War. The soldiers discussed their experiences in the South throughout the war.
The bulk of the collection is letters that Christopher H. Keller wrote to his parents, George H. and Esther Keller of Batavia, Illinois, and to his future wife, Caroline Matilda Hall of St. Charles, Illinois, between September 2, 1862, and August 14, 1865. He described his travels between camps and other posts in Illinois, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana, commenting on the weather, the scenery, and destruction caused by the war. His letters provide detailed descriptions of everyday aspects of military life, such as camp conditions, rations and supplies, religious services, and medical care; in February 1863, he described his stay at Overton Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Keller occasionally expressed his opinions on military doctors, conscripted soldiers, and the war, and reflected on soldiers' deaths. He sometimes shared stories about his interactions with Confederate civilians.
Keller participated in skirmishes throughout his service. Two groups of letters concern his experiences during the Siege of Vicksburg in mid-1863 and the Union campaign for Mobile in the spring of 1865. In March 1865, he visited New Orleans. In 1864, he briefly commented on Abraham Lincoln's presidential nomination and noted his regiment's overwhelming support for Lincoln as they voted; in 1865, he reacted to news of Lincoln's assassination and the death of John Wilkes Booth. Keller's final letters, written from Mobile just after the end of the war, include mentions of freed Confederate prisoners and freedmen. Keller's enclosed a dogwood blossom in his letter of April 10, 1865.
A small number of items in the collection are incoming letters to Christopher H. Keller and, to a lesser extent, Caroline M. Hall. Keller received one letter from Albert N. Hall about Hall's experiences at Pittsburg, Tennessee (March 25, 1862). Albert C. Cleavland wrote letters about his service with the 42nd Illinois Infantry Regiment from 1861-1865. He served in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia, and his letters include descriptions of skirmishes near Chattanooga, Tennessee, in October 1863, the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, and a visit to Atlanta after its destruction by Union troops. His later letters sometimes include comments about Confederate civilians, the fall of Richmond, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Cleavland wrote his final letters from Port Lavaca, Texas, in late 1865. The final item in the collection is a letter that Mary Chind of St. Charles, Illinois, wrote to Caroline Hall Keller on December 31, 1865, congratulating Keller on her marriage and enclosing a pamphlet by Theodore L. Cuyler, "A Flaw in the Wedding Link."
The collection includes undated newspaper clippings from the Montgomery Daily Mail and an unknown paper, pertaining to troop movements and the restoration of telegraph services, respectively, and a tintype portrait of an unidentified Union soldier in uniform, posing beside a United States flag.
- Biographical / Historical:
Christopher H. Keller was born in Hinsdale, New York, on April 20, 1840, the son of George H. and Esther Keller. The Keller family moved to Batavia, Illinois, in 1844. Christopher H. Keller enlisted in the United States Army on August 11, 1862 and served as a sergeant and second lieutenant in the 124th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company B. The unit served in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, participating in actions including the Siege of Vicksburg. After the war, Keller returned to Batavia, where he took over his family's farm. He married Caroline Matilda Hall (1842-1909) of St. Charles, Illinois, in late 1865, and they had three children: George H., Esther A., and Bertha. Christopher H. Keller died on August 4, 1876.
Albert C. Cleavland served in the 42nd Illinois Infantry Regiment throughout the Civil War.
- Acquisition Information:
- 1974. M-1687 .
- Processing information:
Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.
The collection is arranged chronologically. Newspaper clippings and photographs are located at the beginning of Box 6.
- Rules or Conventions:
- Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
- Additional Descriptive Data:
The Lewis T. Hickok journal pertains to Hickok's experiences in the 124th Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company E, during the Siege of Vicksburg.
Howard, R. L. History of the 124th Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, Otherwise Known as the "Hundred and Two Dozen," from August, 1862, to August, 1865. Springfield, Ill.: Printed and Bound by H. W. Rokker, 1880.
Howard, R. L. History of the 124th Regiment Illinois Infantry Volunteers, Otherwise Known as the "Hundred and Two Dozen," from August, 1862, to August, 1865. Springfield, Ill.: H. W. Rokker, 1880.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Kennesaw Mountain, Battle of, Ga., 1864.
Clippings (information artifacts)
United States. Army. Illinois Infantry Regiment, 124th (1862-1865)
United States. Army. Illinois Infantry Regiment, 42nd (1861-1865)
United States. Army--Military life.
Cleavland, Albert C.
Cuyler, Theodore L.
Hall, Albert N.
Keller, Christopher H., 1840-1876.
Keller, George H.
Alabama--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Illinois--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Louisiana--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Tennessee--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Mississippi--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Mobile (Ala.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Port Lavaca (Tex.)
Southern States--Description and travel.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
United States--Politics and government--1861-1865.
Vicksburg (Miss.)--History--Siege, 1863.
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright status is unknown
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Christopher Howser Keller Letters, James S. Schoff Civil War Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan