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Adam H. Pickel papers, 1862-1863

13 items

The Pickel papers contain nine letters written by Adam H. Pickel to his parents in Phoenixville and one written to a sister during his enlistment in the 68th Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil War. His letters provide interesting commentary on the war; in particular, he strongly refuted the rumor that General Joseph Hooker was drunk at the battle of Chancellorville.

The Pickel papers contain nine letters written by Adam H. Pickel to his parents in Phoenixville and one written to a sister. This correspondence suggests that Pickel had received a good education and had more than a minor talent as a writer. It is clear, however, that there are numerous letters no longer present with collection, including, apparently, the letters in which Pickel described his experiences in battle.

Pickel's surviving letters nevertheless provide some interesting commentary on the war. In particular, his letters regarding Chancellorsville, even though they lack a thorough description of the battle, provide a strong feeling of the horror of that engagement. Further, he argues vehemently that, rumors aside, Joe Hooker was not drunk at Chancellorsville. Pickel claims to have seen the General perhaps 20 times during the battle, and that he exhibited no obvious signs of inebriation. He admitted, however, to Hooker's well-known fondness for whiskey. Also worth noting is Pickel's critical response in support of a Dr. Oberholzer, who wrote a letter to hometown newspaper, the Daily Phoenix, pointing out how poorly run the Army was.


Albert G. Fuller reminiscences, [1930s]

1 item

This collection consists of Clarice A. Bouton's transcriptions of the Civil War reminiscences of her grandfather, Albert G. Fuller. Fuller, a native of Reading, Michigan, served in the 78th New York Infantry Regiment, Company K, and participated in actions including the Battle of Chancellorsville, the Battle of Gettysburg, and Sherman's March to the Sea.

This collection consists of Clarice A. Bouton's transcriptions (8 pages) of the Civil War reminiscences of her grandfather, Albert G. Fuller. Fuller recounted many incidents from his time in the 78th New York Infantry Regiment, which he joined on March 20, 1862, with three friends from his hometown of Reading, Michigan: Lemuel Wisner, William Herrington, and William Green, all killed during the war. He discussed his regiment's movements and marches, his time in hospitals recuperating from bullet wounds, and his participation in battles, skirmishes, and Sherman's March to the Sea. He described wounded soldiers lying in their tents, nursed by other soldiers; the interruption of his meal immediately prior to the Battle of Peachtree Creek; the harsh treatment and execution of three deserters; and the Union Army's destructive practices while marching from Atlanta to Savannah.

Fuller noted the deaths and disappearances of his hometown friends and recalled his recuperation in hospitals in York, Pennsylvania, after the Battle of Gettysburg, and Savannah, Georgia, in 1864; while in York, he attended a political speech that was disrupted by gunfire, resulting in a panic and further injuries to his wounded leg. Fuller's account ends with his discharge on June 2, 1865, and his return to the family farm on June 20, 1865, where he resumed work immediately upon his arrival.


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.


David Ballenger typescripts, 1858-1888 (majority within 1861-1865)

1 volume

This collection is comprised of typescripts of letters that David Ballenger sent to his wife Nancy and other family members while serving in the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment, Company D, and the Hampton Legion during the Civil War. Ballenger discussed his participation in several major battles and Confederate soldiers' increasing discouragement as the war progressed.

This collection is comprised of typescripts of around 70 letters related to David Ballenger, who served in the 26th Alabama Infantry Regiment and Hampton's Legion during the Civil War. His first letter, written to a sister from Kingston, Georgia, on December 5, 1858, mentions the possibility of attending a 20-day grammar course.

The bulk of the typescripts are letters that Ballenger wrote to his wife Nancy and, less frequently, other family members while serving with the Confederate Army between December 1861 and January 1865. He spent most of the war in Virginia, though he also traveled to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and the Carolinas, and described his participation in skirmishes and in major engagements such as the Battles of South Mountain, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg. He sometimes commented on the general progress of the war, including the increasing likelihood of a Union victory. Ballenger discussed his and other Confederate soldiers' deteriorating enthusiasm throughout the course of the war; in September 1864, he noted that he and others would quit fighting should George McClellan win the presidency and make concessions to the seceded states. In his letter of December 12, 1864, he worried that the war had become more about power than idealism and expressed his disdain for its deleterious effects on Southern morality, as evidenced by a preponderance of brothels.

Ballenger's letters often refer to his religious faith, and he often thanked God for seeing him safely through battles. He commented on the hardships soldiers suffered during the war, believing that they far outweighed any difficulties experienced by those at home (May 13, 1863), and reflected on the magnitude of the death and destruction that the war had caused. In his letter of June 12, 1864, he mentioned a visit to the site of the Battle of Malvern Hill, still strewn with bodies.

The collection includes a small number of typescripts of letters that David Ballenger received from other military personnel during the war. Postwar correspondence includes a letter from H. B. Rector to David Ballenger about Reconstruction in Georgia (February 24, 1868); letters of congratulation after Ballenger's election to an unspecified public office (September 1886); and letters from Ballenger to his daughter and two nieces about their education (1888). The final typescript consists of the text of an undated article in The North Greenville Courier about Reverend O. J. Peterson, the principal of North Greenville High School.


Frederic and William Speed papers, 1857-1874

224 items

The Frederic and William Speed papers contain letters written by Frederic Speed who served in the 5th and 13th Maine Infantry Regiments and as assistant adjutant general, and his brother, William Speed of the 24th Michigan Infantry Regiment, who was mortally wounded on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Frederic and William Speed papers contain 212 chronologically-arranged letters and enclosures, spanning 1857-1874. The brothers wrote the letters home to their parents, John and Anne, and sisters, Anna, Charlotte ("Lottie"), and Cornelia ("Nell"), primarily during their Civil War service.

The collection contains approximately 30 letters written by William Speed, who served with the 24th Michigan Volunteer Infantry until his death at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. William's correspondence opens with a single prewar letter, written on the topic of his travels to Niagara Falls and Buffalo, New York (August 27, 1857). In his next several letters, Speed debated enlisting in the war, first determining not to volunteer until "a greater necessity" existed (December 11, 1861), and then regretting not signing up at the outbreak of the war (June 10, 1862). Speed began his service in August 1862, and wrote home regularly to report on movements, engagements, and camp life with the 24th Michigan. He provided details of his daily activities, including the hardtack and other foods he ate (November 29, 1862) and the two-man shelter tents in which the regiment slept (October 4, 1862). He also took a particular interest in recent battlefields, describing visits to South Mountain and Antietam in Maryland (October 12, 1862). Of the former, he wrote that "curiosity seekers" had nearly picked the site clean, but noted that it "must have been a terrible battle." He also described the "headboards" that marked Union graves and a mass burial site for Confederate soldiers nearby.

William also wrote about two of the major engagements in which he served. He gave accounts of the Battle of Fredericksburg in two letters, dated December 15, 1862, and December 29, 1862, in which he described being heavily shelled by the Confederates after General Solomon Meredith disobeyed orders an moved the troops in broad daylight. He also provided details on the topography of the battlefield, the bravery of his company, and the physical and mental fatigue experienced by the soldiers after the battle. On May 10, 1863, he described the Battle of Chancellorsville, in which his regiment crossed the Rappahannock River in pontoon boats, and commented, "Oh! These were fearful moments. The balls flew about like hail." He also wrote about a collaborative raid with the 8th Illinois Cavalry to stop smugglers near Falmouth, Virginia (May 27, 1863). Speed left no record of his Gettysburg service as he was mortally wounded on its first day, but several posthumous items pay tribute to him, including letters by the Detroit Bar (July 12, 1863) and the Union Lodge of Strict Observance (July 27, 1863).

Letters by Frederick Speed form the bulk of the collection, spanning June 19, 1861, to May 29, 1874. Young and very ambitious, Speed wrote frequently about his efforts to prove himself and to earn a regular army commission. These efforts included regularly filling in for the unit's adjutant (July 14, 1861); constructing a barricade, about which Speed noted, "Major General McClelland [sic] expressed himself as well pleased" (September 22, 1861); and taking an active part in picket duty, which he considered very dangerous (September 9, 1861). After joining the staff of the 13th Maine Infantry in the position of assistant adjutant general, Speed described steamboat travel to and arrival at Ship Island, Mississippi, which at first awed him with its shells and wildlife but later struck him as a "prison," after several months of service there (May 5, 1862). Speed also grew discontent with his supervisor, General Neal S. Dow, from whose staff he resigned in November 1862, calling him "the most intensely selfish man I ever saw" (November 3, 1862).

Speed saw action in several battles. During the First Battle of Bull Run, he took pride in his regiment's bravery, but lamented the "black track" of destruction and ruin they left behind and called the war "revolting" (August 3, 1861). He participated the in the Union forces' capture of New Orleans, which he described in a letter of August 1, 1862; he noted that he found the soldiers unlikely "to give up the city without the death struggle" (September 9, 1862). He wrote about the heavy Confederate casualties at the Battle of Plains Road (May 22, 1863), and the numerous aspects of the Siege of Port Hudson, including several bombardments, heavy attrition caused by disease, and the meager food sources of the Confederates (June 16, 1863). Also mentioned are skirmishes at Vermillion Baylor (October 13, 1863) and Carrion Crow Bayou (November 7, 1863).

Frederic Speed took an interest in African Americans, and frequently commented on issues related to them. He discussed abolitionism in letters to his sisters, and criticized southerners for being "little better than babes, they are so helpless" without their slaves (January 28, 1864). On July 19, 1863, Speed applied for permission to raise a "negro artillery regiment" and opined that 50,000 African American troops could be raised easily. He also reported that "negro regiments give their officers much less trouble than white ones" (August 28, 1863). He described a "day of jubilee" celebrated by newly freed African Americans in Mobile, Alabama, on July 4, 1865, writing, "My heart beat strong for their welfare and I too could not be but glad, with them."

A few items in the collection relate to Speed's role in the transportation of Union ex-prisoners of war back to their homes. On April 5, 1865, he commented on receiving and making arrangements for 11,000 prisoners from Andersonville and Cahaba prisons, noting, "Those from Cahaba are well and hearty--those from Andersonville are more dead than alive." His role in the Sultana disaster is not referenced in the papers until over a month after it occurred, when he requested information and defended his actions to a commission that found him partially responsible (May 28, 1865). He also wrote about his desire for a court of inquiry to investigate the matter (May 28, 1865), his desire to resign after the matter had resolved itself (June 9, 1865), and his "depression" over his role in it (June 27, 1865). In a few scattered postwar letters, Frederic Speed shares family news and describes his interest in starting an ice business in the South.


George Hale Nichols papers, 1853-1866

49 items

Hailing from an upstanding family from Haverill, Mass., George Nichols was a college student when the Civil War interrupted his plans to follow his siblings into life as an educator. His papers document over half of Nichols' brief life, beginning with his charming grade school compositions, "The Horse" and "Fall," and ending with a receipt concerning the settlement of his estate.

The George Nichols papers document over half of Nichols' brief life, beginning with his charming grade school compositions, "The Horse" and "Fall," and ending with a receipt concerning the settlement of his estate. While his Civil War letters are neither spectacularly eventful nor unusually informative, their juxtaposition with his pre-war letters provides an unusual view of the jarring transition between the life of a student and teacher to that of a soldier. The collection includes one letter of Joseph B., a member of the three months' 3rd Massachusetts Infantry.

The high points of Nichols' wartime letters are some excellent descriptions of the interminable marches endured by the 32nd Massachusetts. While he avoided the worst of the fighting at Antietam or Chancellorsville, Nichols was more than impressed with the fury of the engagements and was glad for his position in the reserve. His letters from Fredericksburg and the opening rounds of the Gettysburg Campaign are more informative, and provide a brief look into the hard work and high emotions of federal soldiers there. More interesting still is a joyous letter written by his mother on July 7, 1863, describing the celebrations in Haverill sparked by news of the victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. She had read a newspaper article that gave "the whole particulars [of the battle] showing the whole ground at Gettysburg," but which did not include George's name on the list of casualties. She wrote that she had read that George's "Corpse, the 5th was there in the hottest of the fearful fight" (1863 July 7), unaware that her son's corpse was at that moment being transported to prison in Richmond.

The pre-war letters are particularly valuable for documenting the attitudes of Victorian teachers toward their students and toward their mission as educators. Formally and informally, his brothers offer advice on the proper conduct of teachers, their goals and their experiences, and the characteristic nineteenth-century marriage of education, religion, and middle-class morality shines through in many of the letters.


George Lockley papers [microform], 1861-1866

1 microfilm

The Lockley papers include diaries, transcriptions of diaries, maps of battles in which he participated, including the first and second battles of Bull Run, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Also included is a copy of a report by Lt. Colonel Benjamin D. Pritchard on the capture of Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders by the 4th Michigan Cavalry. There are also a few photographs and miscellaneous materials from his wartime service.


Henry A. Barry diary, 1863

1 volume

The Barry diary recounts 48 days in the life of a private in the 127th Pennsylvania Reserves, Company E, encamped in 1863 near Falmouth, Virginia, across the Rappahannock River from rebel forces. The diary describes his company's actions surrounding the second battle at Fredericksburg at Marye's Heights.

This volume is a 3" by 6" leather-bound pocket diary recounting 48 days in the life of Henry Barry, a private in the 127th Pennsylvania Reserves, Company E, encamped near Falmouth, Virginia, across the Rappahannock River from rebel forces. Entries span from March 31 to May 16, 1863. The first page, numbered "113," indicates that it is part of a series. Pasted in the back are severely faded pictures of his father and mother, William A. Barry and Rachel Ann Barry.

Barry wrote in detail about camp life in Northern Virginia and about the Virginia front six weeks before Gettysburg. He described his experiences leading up to the second battle of Fredericksburg, and the Battle of, Chancellorsville, at Marye's Heights and his regiment's unsuccessful attempt to push Southern forces back to Richmond. On April 14, they were warned that they were about to advance, confirmed by seeing a cavalry unit and about 2,000 wagons go by. On the 29th they marched south seven miles with full packs and 8 days’ rations.

"This evening I went to the top of a hill and there saw for the first time an engagement between our forces and the Rebs. They were shelling each other at a fine rate" [April 30].

"I understand old Ive drove the Rebs 10 miles yesterday capturing 18 wagon loads and ammunition and 4 days rations. I understand old Joe calculates being in Fred-ericksburg by 4 o’clock this afternoon carrying all the heights" [May 2].

In Battle. This morning at daybreak we marched into Fredericksburg and went down Caroline Street and there rested a few moments when I heard Gen. Gibbon tell Gen. Hall to file left & left flank so we did and the shells did come in profusion" [May 3].


Hugh and George Roden papers, 1861-1898 (majority within 1861-1864)

68 items

George and Hugh Roden, sons of English immigrants, enlisted in the 2nd and 7th New Jersey Infantry regiments respectively during the Civil War. This collection contains 62 letters from Hugh and five letters from George, which offer an excellent look at the ordinary soldier's view of politics, the army, and its commanders.

The Roden brothers collection represents only a portion of a much larger body of material. There are five letters written by George Roden, Jr., all between June 17th and August 19th, 1861, and one letter written to him by a fellow veteran in 1898. The remainder of the collection consists of letters from Hugh Roden, who was described by the original cataloguer of this collection as "a charmingly precocious drummer boy."

Like those of many of his fellow soldiers, Hugh Roden's letters contain frequent references to food, both that issued by the commissary and that sent from home. His best letters, though, offer an excellent look at the ordinary soldier's view of politics, the army, and its commanders. Probably younger than his 21 year old brother, Hugh's early letters are strongly optimistic and reflect a confidence in his leaders. He is occasionally introspective, giving thought to the toll exacted on its participants and the families of soldiers on both sides, and can muster a little humor at times. A Lincoln supporter, Roden is nevertheless incensed at the Emancipation Proclamation, which he predicts will turn the army against the President, and further predicts that passage of the Proclamation will result in racial equality, in theory and fact.

The best series of letters are Hugh's six letters from the Peninsular Campaign, in which he describes the positions before Yorktown, the battlefield at Fair Oaks, removing bodies from the field after Williamsburg, and the aftermath of the battle of Seven Days' Battles. His diary-like account of Chancellorsville is also worthwhile. Unfortunately lacking from the collection are the brothers' letters from Fredericksburg, Mine Run, and the battles between the Wilderness and Cold Harbor.


James H. Baker collection, 1861-1956 (majority within 1861-1863)

29 items

The James H. Baker collection contains items related to his Civil War career in Company C of the First Regiment of United States Sharpshooters. The collection includes photographs, ribbons, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook, among other items.

The James H. Baker collection contains items related to his Civil War career in Company C of the First Regiment of United States Sharp Shooters. The collection includes photographs, ribbons, newspaper clippings, and a scrapbook, among other items. A small, leather-bound Notebook lists members of Company C of Hiram Berdan's 1st United States Sharpshooters Regiment, including their dates of resignation or death. The book also contains a short history of the company and an extensive list of engagements at which the company was present. The notebook also includes a short note regarding the history of a "Stars and Bars" banner acquired by James H. Baker, with accompanying song lyrics. A short newspaper clipping entitled "Eli Perkins Gets a Good Story from Gen. Sherman" and a number of pressed leaves are also included among the notebook's contents.

Four Photographs include three Civil War-era portraits and as well as a later, black and white portrait. At least one of the older items is of James H. Baker.

The collection's 15 Ribbons include the following items:
  • Berdan's U. S. Sharp Shooters [Reunion] (1891)
  • Berdan's U. S. Sharp Shooters [Reunion] (1894)
  • The Governor's Guard of Memphis, Tenn. (1894)
  • "I Will March for Sound Money" (1896)
  • Large American flag, Berdan's U. S. Sharp Shooters [Reunion] (1896)
  • 17th Reunion Co. B. 2nd U. S. Sharp Shooters (1897)
  • 7th Annual Reunion Berdan's Sharp Shooters (1897)
  • 1st Michigan Sharp Shooters Association 25th reunion (1908)
  • U. S. Berdan S[harp] S[hooters] (1908, 3 items)
  • Small ribbon with American flag decoration (undated)
  • Large yellow ribbon reading, "Marshal" (undated)
  • Lansing Republicans (undated, 2 items)
Printed Items and Ephemera include the following items:
  • A card certifying Clarence O. Skinner's membership in the Civil War Book Club
  • A photograph of University of Michigan swimmer James Skinner, taken from Michigan: Champions of the West
  • Printed program from the "First Reunion of Co. K Berdan's Sharpshooters," 1889
  • Printed "Address of Comrade Judge Charles J. Buchanan" at a reunion of Berdan's Sharp-Shooters' Association, 1908

Newspapers and Clippings include an item describing the presentation of a ceremonial sword to James H. Baker, a photographic portrait of Baker printed just after his death, and a copy of the New York Herald from August 1, 1863.

Essays and Reminiscences include a rewritten copy of "Grandfather's Best Story of the War," detailing the involvement of a man nicknamed "California Joe" during the early years of the Civil War, and two copies of a typed biography of James H. Baker that focuses on his Civil War service.

A Scrapbook compiled in the 20th century contains a number of items related to James H. Baker's Civil War service. Items within the scrapbook include numerous letters written by Baker to his parents, wife, and sister, documents, and newspaper clippings. Many of the newspaper clippings date from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and detail reunions of Berdan's regiments. The scrapbook also encloses a copy of the Philadelphia Inquirer (September 26, 1861), and includes a photograph of Clarence O. Skinner taken in Ringen, Germany, in 1919.