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Bigelow-Monks correspondence, 1862-1884 (majority within 1862-1871)

0.5 linear feet

The Bigelow-Monks correspondence contains correspondence from several soldiers serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, as well as a series of letters written by Charles A. Monks to his wife Susannah, when he was staying in Gibbon, Nebraska, in 1871.

The Bigelow-Monks correspondence contains correspondence from several soldiers serving in the Union Army during the Civil War, as well as a series of letters written by Charles A. Monks to his wife Susannah, when he was in Gibbon, Nebraska. Much of the collection consists of the war-era correspondence of several soldiers to Susannah Bigelow and to the Monks family, from friends and family members. Several of Susannah's friends wrote throughout the war, and described in detail their experiences in camp, on the battlefield, and in the hospital. Corporal Jeremiah P. Williams of the 57th New York Infantry Regiment wrote early of his optimism for the Union effort; he drew a patriotic picture of an eagle holding the shield of the United States in his letter of January 23, 1862; he also discussed his impressions of the battle site of First Bull Run at Manassas, Virginia. Lewis Turner, a soldier in the 15th New Jersey Infantry Regiment, served with Charles A. Monks in Company C, and frequently told Susannah of his experiences, including a detailed description of the Battle of Fredericksburg (May 28, 1863). Turner was wounded in the Spotsylvania campaign, but later returned to his regiment. Beverly Post of the 7th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment became a frequent correspondent later in the war, as did his brother Jerry, who often discussed his experiences recuperating from a wound at Stanton Hospital in Washington, D. C. The Posts often referred to Susannah's brother Jonathan, and alluded to his status as a prisoner of war in early 1865.

The collection holds a large number of items written by Charles A. and Sidney N. Monks to their sister Jarrett and to their father William. The pair described the details of camp life during the defense of Washington, D. C., early in the war, but their later correspondence reflects their increasing involvement in the fighting; Charles wrote at one point that he was lucky to have only a bullet through his clothing. Both brothers detailed their battlefield experiences, and both participated in the Battle of Gettysburg. Sidney mentioned enclosing a ring taken from a dead Confederate soldier in his letter of August 15, 1863, and Charles twice provided detailed descriptions of the fighting, in his letters of July 6, 1863, and July 17, 1863. In the second letter, he drew a small map of the Confederate lines. Each of the soldiers provided a rich view of army life, and several wrote on illustrated Union stationery.

A series of letters from 1871 pertains to the experiences of Charles A. Monks as he headed to Gibbon, Nebraska, to assess the possibility of starting a farm there under the Homestead Act. In his letters to his wife Susannah, who remained in New Jersey, he provided detailed descriptions of people, scenery, and everyday life out west. He liked his neighbors and Nebraska, but he returned to his New Jersey home in October 1871.


Crossman papers, 1855-1875

99 items

The Crossman papers contain correspondence between Ferdinand Crossman, Union solder, and his wife, Adelaide, between 1862 and 1864. The letters describe army life, fighting, military duties, pay, food, clothes, health, and personal news. Adelaide also received letters from her sister and friends that concern family life in Massachusetts.

The Crossman papers are comprised of 95 letters and 4 tax documents.

The Correspondence series contains approximately 60 letters from Ferdinand while he was in the army, from 1862-1864. In his letters, Ferdinand inquired about Adelaide's day-to-day activities, and described his own in the army. Many letters mentioned their children, though not by name. He wrote about army life, fighting, military duties, pay, food, clothes, health, and personal news. In a letter dated May 15, 1863, Ferdinand refuted inaccurate news from Adelaide that the Union Army had taken Richmond. In one of his final letters, that of April 18, 1864, Crossman wrote that he sensed a major battle brewing and predicted that he might not make it home again, and that Adelaide should do her best to get on with her life, if he should die. Crossman would die of disease on August 9, 1864, at the Andersonville, Georgia, prison.

The rest of the letters are to Adelaide from her sister and friends. These concern daily life in Massachusetts, as well as family and personal news such as marriage, children, health, and death.

The Receipts and Tax Document series contains a 1859 tax record and three receipts for subscriptions to the True Flag weekly newspaper.


Cruikshank-Dawley papers, 1841-1890

57 items

This collection holds the personal letters of Louisa Dawley Cruikshank of Oneida, New York, and includes letters from her husband, Henry Cruikshank, while he was traveling in California and serving in military during the Civil War.

The Cruikshank-Dawley papers is comprised of 57 letters between Henry Cruikshank and his wife, Louisa Dawley Cruikshank, from before and during the Civil War. The earliest set of letters is addressed to Miss Wealthy A. Dawley and from William Segun and from Louisa Dawley. These discuss general news and family life. Other pre-Civil War letters include letters to Louisa from her sisters, three love letters from Thomas Ormiston, and three letters from her aunt. Henry Cruikshank received a letter from a friend, who wrote about difficult travels on a steamship, and a letter from his sister Mary, who mentioned killing woodchucks and snakes.

A set of five letters document Henry's travels in California. He wrote from New York City in 1860 just before he set sail for California. Upon arrival, he buys a claim and a cabin for $180 and notes that "California is a hard land for a poor man to live in...there is lots of old Californians here would be glad to get a way from here" (May 26, 1861). Henry has more success by July, as he "got 1,400 dollars out of pile of dirt we washed out, was two months three weeks of work." In other letters, he wrote of coming to "near blows" with drunk railroad workers.

The bulk of the Civil War letters are from Henry to his wife Louisa, though some letters are addressed to his sister Louisa and other family members. In nearly every letter, Henry voiced his unhappiness with being in the army and mentioned his desire to come home. He complained of insufficient protection from the cold, a lack of food, and not being paid. He was particularly unhappy that all the soldiers were fighting for was to free the slaves, and he complained that, in the south, they "live better and have better houses to live in than half the white folk in York makes me so mad some times that I have a good mind to run away and let them go to the devil and would not care if the rebs took Washington" (July 5, 1863). He wrote of being shot in a skirmish just before the Battle of Fredericksburg and of sickness in the army, including an outbreak of smallpox in Washington and, toward the end of 1863, an outbreak of the mumps. In general, Crukshank was critical of the management of the Union army and was relentlessly pessimistic about the outcome of the war.

The most recent letter in the collection was from Henry's son in Camden, New York.


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.


Doctor Tarbell and Mary Conant papers, 1864-1881 (majority within 1864-1865)

113 items

This collection consists of 113 letters, written primarily between Union soldier Doctor Tarbell and his fiancée, and later, wife, Mary Lucy Conant. Doctor served as a Sergeant in New York's 32nd Infantry, Co. A, and as a Lieutenant, Captain, and Brevet Major in the Commissary Regiment, U.S. Volunteers.

The Doctor Tarbell and Mary Conant papers are comprised of 112 letters, written primarily between Union soldier Doctor Tarbell and his fiancée (and later wife), Mary Lucy Conant, and one genealogical document. Doctor served as a sergeant in the New York 32nd Infantry, Co. A, and as a lieutenant, captain, and brevet major in the U.S. Volunteers. The collection covers Doctor’s war-time service in the Union Army and some of his post-war career. The Civil War letters form a remarkably dense series that highlights the intimate relationship of Tarbell and his fiancée Mary. The collection contains 35 letters from Doctor to Mary, and 46 letters from Mary to Doctor, mainly during 1864 and 1865. Additionally, Doctor wrote one letter to his parents T. B. and Lydia Tarbell, and received two letters from them and two from his siblings. The remaining 29 letters are either from relatives of Mary or they pertain to post-war activities of the Tarbells.

Both Tarbell and his fiancée wrote in an educated and literary style; their letters reveal an affectionate relationship. Between January and February 1864, both Tarbell and Conant wrote almost exclusively about their relationship. However, as the Army of the Potomac moved south, both writers began to focus more on the progress of the war and to assume a more fervently patriotic tone. Many of Mary's letters contain political asides ("Does the Army weary of Gen. Meade, or is it politicians & aspirants that wish to oust him?" March 13, 1864); references to life at home during wartime; and several extended lyrical passages and pro-Union sentiments. Tarbell's responses, which were also substantive and descriptive, often referred to military matters, his work as a commissary, and army morale.

At times, Tarbell's patriotism and pride in his commission shine through, as during his company's inspection by General Ulysses S. Grant (April 18, 1864). Tarbell described the journey down to Richmond, his regiment's movements, what he knew of the progress of the war, the actions of the 6th Cavalry Corps, and his encounters with southern civilians. He wrote to both Mary and his parents from Danville Military Prison, expressing his hopes that an exchange of officers was imminent (October 22, 1864, and November 20, 1864). After his release, he recounted the parades in Washington, D.C. following the ending of the war, and the review of General Sherman’s Army (May 25, 1865). On July 28, 1865, he mentioned his promotion to brevet major.

The 5 letters written to Mary during Tarbell's imprisonment are filled with sympathy and encouragement, along with family news. In a letter from Mary's young niece, Hattie Carpenter, she described the return of soldiers to Iowa (January 15, 1865). Mary A. E. Wages wrote to Miss Hardy requesting funds to establish a freedman's high school in Richmond: "The black people of Richmond are the only loyal people in the whole city...They not only need help, but are worthy objects of it" (Nov. 18, 1866).

The 13 letters from 1881 suggest that the Tarbells were in some unspecified financial difficulty, and that Doctor had been employed as a typewriter agent. The remaining 10 letters were written by Tarbell or Conant relatives and friends.

This collection also contains one genealogical document that lists the birth and marriage dates for members of the Conant and Tarbell families (1793-1884). Included is a list of Doctor and Mary Tarbell's children. This document is undated and unattributed.


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.


Fredericksburg During the Civil War, [ca. 1898]

16 pages

"Fredericksburg During the Civil War" is a typed account of a Union soldier's experiences during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Second Battle of Fredericksburg, and Battle of Salem Church. The account includes detailed descriptions of each battle and of the "Mud March" of January 1863. The writer commented on his regiment's movements, casualties, the experience of coming under heavy fire, and other subjects.

Fredericksburg During the Civil War (16 pages) is a typed account of Union soldier's experiences during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Second Battle of Fredericksburg, and Battle of Salem Church. The account begins with a description of the area around Fredericksburg, Virginia, and brief remarks about its strategic importance. The bulk of the document consists of the author's reminiscences about his experiences between December 1862 and May 1863. While crossing the Rappahannock River toward Fredericksburg, he saw a large number of playing cards discarded by soldiers who did not want to seem morally compromised in the event of their death. He described the large number of casualties between Union and Confederate lines during the Battle of Fredericksburg and recalled a heroic Confederate sergeant who took water to the wounded despite the risk of being shot; both sides ceased to fire while he tended to the wounded. After retreating to winter quarters, the author and his tent-mate built a log hut and participated in General Ambrose Burnside's aborted "Mud March" in January 1863.

The narrative resumes in May 1863, when the author's regiment joined the "disastrous" Chancellorsville campaign under General Joseph Hooker. The VI Corps approached Fredericksburg on May 1, 1863, and then engaged Confederate forces. Though the author exchanged fire with Confederate soldiers, he was unsure whether he had been directly responsible for any deaths. He discussed the capture of the Washington Battery, noted the death of a college classmate during the battle, and wondered whether the victory had justified the large number of casualties. As the Union Army continued to move toward Chancellorsville, the author became involved in the Battle of Salem Church, which he recounted in the present tense, listing multiple marching orders and providing accounts of several specific soldiers. The essay ends with the author locating his disjointed regiment and retreating back toward a previous encampment at White Oak Church.


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 W. Barr papers, 1855-1865 (majority within 1861-1865)

150 items

The Barr papers consist of the Civil War letters of George W. Barr, who served as a surgeon in the 64th New York Infantry Regiment. Barr's letters describe his experience with the army as well as the aftermath of battles and his criticism of the ineptitude of generals and politicians.

George W. Barr wrote 144 letters to his wife during the years 1861-1865, distinguished by their openness and honesty. Early in his service, he spoke confidently of a quick Union victory on the Peninsula, but the horrible casualties and sickness that faced him had a huge psychological impact. Barr does little to spare his wife when describing the aftermath of a battle, and is honest in his criticism of the ineptitude of McClellan, Burnside, and other generals and politicians. Nevertheless, Barr remained a strong patriot throughout.

Military concerns aside, Barr's letters provide some interesting details regarding his medical practice, building a home in Titusville, his interest in the flora and fauna, and his illness which may have been symptoms of hypochondria. Finally, the collection includes a letter from Barr to his cousins and one to his parents, a fragmentary history of the 64th New York Infantry, and a letter to Iris Barr regarding the war-time correspondence.


James R. Woodworth papers, 1862-1864

151 items (0.5 linear feet)

The James R. Woodworth papers contain the letters and diaries of a Union soldier in the 44th New York Infantry during the Civil War (1862-1864). Woodworth provides detailed reflections on life as a soldier and on his regiment's part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

The James R. Woodworth papers (151 items) contain the letters and diaries of a Union soldier in the 44th New York Infantry during the Civil War (1862-1864). The collection consists of 143 letters, four diaries, one poem, and a bundle of 37 envelopes. In both the letters and the diaries, Woodworth provided detailed reflections on life as a soldier, his regiment's part in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg, and the horrors of war.

The Correspondence series (143 items) consists of 122 letters from James Woodworth to his wife Phebe, five from Phebe to James, three from friends and relatives to James, one from a friend to Phebe, and 12 fragments written by James and Phebe.

Woodworth's letters to Phebe contain descriptions of his war experiences. Topics include foraging, gambling, homesickness, lice, prostitutes, singing, sickness (fever, dysentery, smallpox, typhus fever, scarlatina), food (alcohol, beans, beef, bread, coffee, and hardtack), and opinions on religious matters. Woodworth was well educated and a skillful writer who often provided emotional and perceptive observations on life in his regiment and the aftermath of battles. Woodworth also frequently discussed his wife's struggles on the home front, raising their young son and running their farm in Seneca Falls, New York. This series also contains a printed poem by William Oland Bourne entitled "In Memoriam, Gettysburg, July 1-4, 1863."

The Diaries series (4 volumes, 426 pages) contains Woodworth's wartime diaries covering the period from his arrival in Virginia in October, 1862, to a few weeks before his death in 1864. Though the entries are often brief, they provide complementary information for the letters and often fill in gaps concerning travel and troop life. Of particular note are Woodworth's reflections on the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.

The third diary contains two additional items, stored in a pocket in the back of the volume. One item is a small volume entitled "The Soldier on Guard," which explains the responsibilities of a Union soldier on guard duty (64 pages). The other is a 3-page printed item entitled "Rules for Dr. Gleason's Patients," which contains advice for healthy living.