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Andrew Brockway papers, 1862-1864

19 items

The Andrew Brockway papers consist of letters written home by a young soldier in the 107th New York Infantry. The letters describe marches, occupying a town in Tennessee, and accounts of the Battles of Rocky Face Ridge and Chancellorsville.

The Andrew Brockway letters were written to his sister, Arelia from Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and Georgia, and deal primarily with camp life and troop movements. Brockway describes his many marches in detail, and he offers opinions on President Lincoln ("I did not see as old Abe looked any different from any human being"), Hooker ("There is no lack of faith in our commander... if the authority as Washington will only let him work"), and Meade ("Guess he is a little fearful of taking them [the Confederates] on their own ground").

Although the Brockway correspondence is very incomplete, it includes accounts of the Battles of Rocky Face Ridge and Chancellorsville, the latter written by Brockway's comrade, Ambrose B. Morgan. Brockway's letters from Shelbyville, Tenn., provide interesting commentary on the relations of an army of occupation with the citizens whose land they occupy. The description of a Washington's Birthday party at Shelbyville in 1864 is particularly charming.


Andrew S. Clark Correspondence, 1862, 2012, and undated

1 cubic foot (in 2 boxes, 1 Oversized folder)

The majority of the correspondence is between Andrew and his extended family and friends, 1862-1865, but other materials date to 2012, or are undated.

The collection is composed mainly of correspondence between Andrew and his extended family written mostly between 1862 and 1865. There is also a letter from 1867 and several which are undated. The majority of the correspondence is between Andrew and Eliza, with correspondence to/from Amara. The majority of the letters concerns farm life and what to do on the farm. Of particular note is a letter dated Sept. 17, 1864 from Seymour Clark to Amara Bachelder from a Camp near Atlanta, Georgia, describing the siege of Atlanta. There is one folder devoted to writings and poems written or copied by Andrew while he served during the Civil War. In the Miscellaneous No Name folder there is a poem called “Love Letter to a Soldier.” The Oversized folder includes newspaper clippings and a bounty form for Andrew. The first folder in the collection contains biographical information on the above mentioned people. Illustrations are limited to letterhead.


Byron D. Paddock collection, 1862-1865

18 items

This collection contains correspondence, documents, and typescripts related to Byron D. Paddock's service in the 1st Michigan Light Artillery Regiment, Battery F, during the Civil War. Most of the manuscripts concern the Atlanta Campaign and its immediate aftermath.

This collection contains correspondence, documents, and typescripts related to Byron D. Paddock's service in the 1st Michigan Light Artillery Regiment, Battery F, during the Civil War. Manuscript letters, reports, and orders largely pertain to the regiment's actions during the Atlanta Campaign of 1864 and in its immediate aftermath, including the siege and surrender of Atlanta. A typescript includes extracts from published works regarding the 1st Michigan Light Artillery Regiment, a muster roll for Battery F with information about each soldier's disposition at the end of the war, and a Paddock's war diaries. The diaries concern Paddock's experiences between January 1, 1862, and April 15, 1865, particularly with regard to camp life, target practice, movements and marches, engagements with Confederate forces and batteries, and celebrations at the end of the war. A gap from September to October 1864 coincides with Paddock's furlough.


Clement Abner Boughton papers, 1839-1906 (majority within 1861-1864)

145 items (0.5 linear feet)

The Clement Boughton papers consist of letters written home during Clement's service in the 12th Wisconsin Infantry as part of the occupying forces in Tennessee and Mississippi. The collection also contains other family correspondence and letters regarding Boughton's death.

The Clement Boughton papers include 86 letters from Clement Boughton to his mother, brothers and sister, 85 of which were written during his service in the 12th Wisconsin Infantry. The remaining 59 items in the collection include five documents relating to Boughton's service, four letters from a cousin, Mariette Bent, to Clement while he was in the service, a letter from an officer in the 12th Wisconsin relating news of Clement's death and several letters of bereavement from relatives and acquaintances. The balance of the collection is comprised of letters form other members of the Boughton family, both pre-War and post, most addressed to Clement's mother.

Boughton's Civil War letters form the heart of the collection and provide a complete account of the military service of an upright young farmer. While Boughton considered himself to be religious and while he held high standards of conduct for himself and his comrades, he was not prone to moralizing or quick condemnation. He was instead an avid, well-intentioned soldier doing his duty far from home, who felt pangs of guilt at being away during the harvest, and who continued to provide support, encouragement and advice to his mother, younger brother and sister on running the farm and leading their lives. His letters to his younger siblings Augustus and Anna are very affectionate and indicate how important he must have been in raising the children. His relationship with his twin, Clarence, is more difficult to ascertain. Clarence appears to have been an unusually poor correspondent and while Clement's tone in the one letter that survives between them seems strained, it is not clear whether there was actual tension between the two.

Among the more interesting letters in the Boughton are the series describing their duties in Kansas and Natchez. Devoid of any real action, they nevertheless paint an interesting portrait of military life away from the front, and include some good descriptions of Union-occupied territory. Boughton's letters written during the Vicksburg siege are also excellent, and include an interesting account of McPherson's attempt to tunnel under the Confederate fortifications as well as a fine sense of the tense, but at the same time boring life in the rifle pits awaiting the capitulation. Finally, Boughton's journal-like letter of the failed expedition from Memphis into northern Mississippi in December, 1862, to January, 1863, graphically details the hardships of field service in the deep south, the exhausting marches, mud, cold and hunger the soldiers faced, and the swings in morale that resulted when the objectives could not be attained.

Among the related materials, there is an interesting letter from members of the Baptist congregation at Chester, Conn., to Eliza Boughton, sending a small amount of money to help support her and her children after the death of her husband, Newell. A typescript of most of the Civil War letters was prepared by a descendant and is available upon request.


Davis E. Castle journals, 1864-1865

2 volumes

Davis Castle's journals provide information on his service in the Signal Corps of the Army of the Potomac.

Davis Castle's journal provides limited information on his service in the Signal Corps of the Army of the Potomac. The document is made up of brief entries, at times illegible handwriting, and empty pages. Castle tended to report second hand information rather than his own experiences.

On the first "Memoranda" page following December 31, 1865, is a list of births in Davis Castle's immediate family. The pages dated November 1, 1864 and August 25, 1865 contain coded passages.


Ezra Stearns papers, 1861-1870

62 items

The Stearns collection consists of 45 letters written by Ezra Stearns to his sister, Ellen M. Brewer while he served as a private soldier in the 1st Michigan Engineers, plus two letters from his brother, Edwin (a private in the 20th Michigan Infantry), and 10 post-war letters from Stearns' wife, Mary, all written to Ellen. Ezra Stearns' letters document aspects of camp life, particularly his culinary activities as a military cook, including recipes of several dishes.

The Stearns collection consists of 45 letters written by Ezra Stearns to his sister, Ellen M. Brewer while he served as a private soldier in the 1st Michigan Engineers, plus two letters from his brother, Edwin (a private in the 20th Michigan Infantry), and 10 post-war letters from Stearns' wife, Mary, all written to Ellen.

Stearns' letters provide an account of service in an important Engineer regiment in Tennessee. While the letters do not include much insight into the engineering activities of the regiment, they are quite useful at documenting aspects of camp life, particularly the culinary activities and tastes of a talented military cook. Stearns relishes in his descriptions of cooking and he provides recipes for biscuits and pork soup, among other dishes. Other interesting letters include one with a description of a guerrilla attack on a train (1863 October 23), some letters with commentary on the recruiting and service of African-American soldiers, and the series of letters written during the Atlanta Campaign.

Finally, among the post-war correspondence are two excellent letters from Ezra's wife, Mary. The first, written from July 29-August 2, 1868, includes a description of settling into a new life on an isolated farm, becoming a "real Mohawk" in their new life in the woods and battling a fire threatening their new home. The second letter, written on October 11th, 1870, provides an account of the malarial infection afflicting Ezra and their young son, Arthur.


George Martin Trowbridge papers, 1863-1865

238 letters

The George Martin Trowbridge papers contain Trowbridge's description of his military service with the 19th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War, including religious, medical, and social aspects of soldier life.

The George Martin Trowbridge papers contain a total of 238 letters, 47 of which are written on earlier letters in order to conserve paper. Trowbridge wrote 191 of the letters to his wife, Lesbia ("Lebbie") during his Civil War service with the 19th Michigan Infantry. When his supply of stationery ran low, he reused incoming letters, interlining them with his own writings, and thus 42 letters from Lebbie and 5 from George's friends are also preserved with the collection. The letters span October 9, 1863, to June 22, 1865. Trowbridge apparently intended his wife to preserve these letters for posterity, because he wrote exceptionally detained accounts of the latter part of the Civil War, totaling 1,089 pages of correspondence.

Early letters in the collection describe camp life in McMinnville, Tennessee, which the 19th Michigan occupied for six months from October 1863 to April 1864, with very little to do. Trowbridge was considerably anguished at being separated from his wife, and his long answers to her letters included attempts to govern his household from a distance of several hundred miles. Trowbridge's relationship with his wife emerges with great complexity in their correspondence. George repeatedly discussed the place of women and proper parenting, and he appears to have harbored a nagging suspicion during the first several months of his service that his wife might have been unfaithful to him. His frequent condemnations of adultery, pointed comments concerning infidelity on the part of soldiers' wives, and assertions that he would personally drop a wife who was guilty of infidelity, eventually brought Lebbie to exasperated protests; by the opening of the Atlanta Campaign, references to the subject ceased completely. An evangelical Christian, Trowbridge wrote letters during the occupation period that revealed his interest in the spiritual lives of his fellow soldiers; he described prayer meetings and theological debates. He also frequently criticized the military's secular treatment of the Sabbath, especially in a letter of November 22, 1863.

After the spring of 1864, the unit began its participation in the Atlanta Campaign and in his letters, Trowbridge increasingly discussed military engagements, medical work, duties, and the places and people that the regiment encountered. Of particular note is Trowbridge's 36-page account (November 11-December 17, 1864) of Sherman's March to the Sea, detailing the Union army's destruction of plantations, railroad tracks, and cotton storage facilities. It also provides an excellent description of slavery in Georgia, including working conditions of half-clothed young slaves, the sexual advantage that masters took with their female slaves ("there is white blood in most"), and the illegality of slave literacy. Other topics mentioned include the historical significance of the march, Confederate resistance near Savannah, and the production of "Sherman ties" made by winding heated railroad track pieces around trees. Trowbridge also wrote a 56-page narrative of the March through the Carolinas, dated February 2-March 26, 1865. In this, he gave an account of further destruction of homes, cotton, and infrastructure; of Sherman's reputation as a fighter; of the capture of bank safes in Charleston and Camden; and of the battles of Averasboro and Bentonville.

Toward the end of the war, when stationery got scarce, Trowbridge began writing on letters which Lebbie and others had written to him. Thus over 40 of her letters are preserved. Lebbie's letters, which are still largely legible in spite of the fact that George wrote between the lines of her letters, provide ample family news and many details of life on the homefront. Of particular interest is her description of reactions to Lincoln's assassination in Michigan (on George's letter of May 23, 1865), as well as her discussion of alcohol use by her neighbors (August 28, 1864). Both George and Lebbie comment upon the failed love life of Lebbie's sister, Gertrude A. Fox (b. 1843), who for a time was engaged to her first cousin.


J. Martin Gorham papers, 1864-1865

4 items

J. Martin Gorham was a lawyer from Barre, Mass. who enlisted in the 33rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. His papers consist of four letters written to his sister and her husband during the Atlanta Campaign and shortly after the fall of Savannah.

The Gorham collection consists of only four letters, three written to his sister Sarah Jane and one to her husband, James R. Marrett. Three of the letters were written during the Atlanta Campaign, and one shortly after the fall of Savannah. Gorham's letters reflect his high level of education. They are observant and literate, and yet, because he was detailed as regimental clerk during the campaigns in Georgia and the Carolinas, they are comparatively slight on detail concerning military activity. The last letter in which Gorham describes the headquarters in Savannah and relating a little bit about the city and state, is far and away the best in the collection. Gorham's notion that the quality of the regimental band made them a popular choice for headquarters guard duty and favoritism is also worth noting.


John Otto typescript, [ca. 1902]

646 pages

This typescript contains John Henry Otto's detailed recollections about his service in the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company D, during the Civil War.

This typescript (646 pages) contains John Henry Otto's detailed recollections about his service in the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company D, during the Civil War. The narrative is divided into an introduction and 52 chapters, with outlines provided at the beginning of each chapter. Otto made two longhand copies of his reminiscences around 1902 and presented them to his sons August and George; Vincent R. R. Carboneau, Otto's grandson, created another longhand copy in early 1943. This typescript, completed by Carboneau's daughter, Phyllis McGrath, in 1977, is a typed version of Carboneau's manuscript, with original spelling, grammar, and punctuation intact.

The typescript, based on Otto's original war diaries, concerns the entirety of his Civil War service, from his initial enlistment in August 1862 to his final discharge in June 1865. An early chapter contains brief notes about his previous military experiences in the Prussian army, with which he served in wars against Denmark (1848) and Austria (1850-1851), and he occasionally referred to his wife and children in Wisconsin. He discussed Wisconsin residents' response to the war and the renewed call to arms in late 1862 and shared stories of his interactions with civilians and military personnel throughout his time in the South, including other German-American soldiers and both Union and Confederate sympathizers. Otto encountered runaway slaves and freedmen and occasionally referred to the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1864, he expressed his negative opinion of George McClellan and McClellan's nomination for the presidency.

Most of Otto's reminiscences concern his daily experiences, and some parts of the narrative are structured like a diary. Otto described camp life, winter quarters, drilling, equipment, and the areas he passed through and visited in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. In September and October 1864, he visited Wisconsin on furlough. The typescript includes his detailed recollections of the Tullahoma Campaign, the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the Carolinas Campaign; numerous skirmishes; and major engagements such as the Battle of Perryville, Battle of Stones River, Battle of Hoover's Gap, Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of Resaca, Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Battle of Peachtree Creek, Siege of Atlanta, and the Battle of Averasboro. He recounted in-battle movements, the experience of coming under fire, and deaths. Otto witnessed a few executions, including that of at least one deserter, and wrote about the capture of Confederate prisoners and equipment. While in the Carolinas near the end of the war, he befriended a young mulatto boy, "Joe Hooker," who returned with him to Wisconsin in 1865. After the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment participated in the Grand Review of the Armies in May 1865, Otto remained in Washington, D.C., where he did some sightseeing. The final pages of the typescript include a copy of Sherman's farewell address to the army.


John R. Comfort papers, 1863-1865

7 items

The John Comfort papers consist of seven letters written at scattered times through his Civil War service with the 137th New York Infantry Regiment.

The John Comfort papers consist of seven letters written at scattered times through the Civil War service of John R. Comfort with the 137th N.Y. Infantry Regiment. Because of the scant coverage, these letters do not build a clear picture of Comfort's attitudes or experiences, though occasional glimpses of both come through. Comfort provides some interesting soldiers'-eye observations on his commanding generals, particularly Henry W. Slocum, whom Comfort liked for not putting on the airs that other generals do, John W. Geary, Joseph Hooker, whom Comfort considered one of the most intelligent commanders in the Union army, and Alpheus S. Williams, whom he detested. Comfort's letter of August 13th, 1864, includes a useful account of the life in the Union lines before Atlanta, and his letter of January 21st, 1865, provides a brief but interesting description of the desperate Confederate effort to impede the advance of the Union XV Corps by flooding rice fields around Savannah.