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Albert Davis papers, 1861-1874 (majority within 1861-1864)

0.25 linear feet

The Albert Davis papers contain letters written by Civil War soldier Albert Davis, of the 15th Massachusetts Regiment, Co. G. Davis described his regiment's roles in the battles of Ball’s Bluff, White Oak Swamp, Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg.

The Albert Davis papers consist of 97 letters written by Civil War soldier Albert Davis of the 15th Massachusetts Regiment, Co. G, 3 letters written by his friends and family, one allotment receipt, his military discharge papers, and a photo of Albert Davis.

Albert Davis wrote letters while stationed with the Union army in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, between August 1861 and June 1864. Of the letters, Davis sent 83 to his widowed mother and 14 to his teenage sister, Angeline, both living in Upton, Massachusetts. The collection also holds one letter from Albert's mother to his sister (June 30, 1864), a letter from R. W. Ellis to Angeline Leland Davis (March 5, 1864), and a letter from W. I. Scandlin to Albert Davis (July 2, 1874).

Albert's letters document his participation as a soldier in the 15th Massachusetts Regiment from the beginning of the regiment’s formation in July 1861, until its dissolution after the battle of Petersburg (June 22, 1864), when all but eight men and one officer were killed or captured. In the early letters, Davis described his initial training near Worcester, Massachusetts. At first, he enjoyed soldiering, and sent home souvenirs: a piece of wood from the Harper's Ferry Bridge (October 6, 1861), and a piece of cotton from the breastworks at Yorktown (May 24, 1862). He wrote of snowballing a barge while on picket duty (January 4, 1862), and of picking wild blackberries during the fighting at Malvern Hills (August 2, 1862). Upon seeing the Monitor anchored among other boats at Hampton, Virginia, he wrote "it dont look as though it could take a Canal boat" (April 2, 1862). Many of his letters mentioned food, either what he was eating or what he would like to receive from home (cheese, tea, molasses, catsup, preserves, baked goods, chocolate, and checkerberry extract). On August 2, 1862, he sent a recipe for pudding made from hardtack. By December 1863, his feelings about soldiering had changed and he became determined not to reenlist. He was irritated by the "bounty men" who fought for money rather than patriotism (March 9, 1863; August 6, 1863). He witnessed several military executions (September 4, 1863; April 26, 1864). Davis also described his six months spent in hospitals and convalescent camps, and his part in the battles of Antietam, Cold Harbor, Gettysburg, and Bristoe Station.

His letters describing the Battle of Gettysburg are of particular interest not just for their accounts of the battle (July 4, 17, and 27, 1863), but also for his corrections of inaccuracies in the newspaper coverage of the battle (August 13 and 21, 1863). On May 14, 1864, Davis wrote from "mud hole near Spotsylvania Court House" and stated that the battle was "the hardest fight of the War." A few weeks later, on June 6, 1864, he wrote from the battlefield at Cold Harbor that "we are about sick of making Charges [--] we are not successful in one half of them and the loss on the retreat is great...there is some wounded men that are a lying between the lines that have laid there for three days and have not had a bit of care perhaps not a drop of water."

Davis occasionally used Union stationery that included printed color images:
  • October 22, 1861
  • October 29, 1861
  • November 6, 1861
  • November 16, 1861
  • November 17, 1861
  • November 26, 1861
  • May 6, 1862
  • November 2, [1862]

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.


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.


Cornelia Hancock papers, 1862-1937 (majority within 1862-1865)

236 items

The Cornelia Hancock papers consist primarily of the Civil War correspondence of Hancock, who served as a nurse for the Union Army in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Virginia from 1863-1865. The collection also includes brief accounts of Hancock's experiences during the war, as well as several items of ephemera.

The Cornelia Hancock papers consist primarily of the Civil War correspondence of Cornelia Hancock (1840-1927), who served as a nurse for the Union Army from 1863 to 1865. Other items within the collection include photographs, accounts of Hancock's experiences during the war, and several items of ephemera.

The Correspondence series includes 168 dated letters, 15 undated letters and fragments, 2 military passes, and 1 fragment of cloth. The dated letters cover the period from July 31, 1862-January 12, 1866, with the undated fragments most likely from the Civil War period. Two additional letters, dated August 27, 1890, and April 25, 1892, are also included in the collection.

The great bulk of the correspondence was written by Cornelia Hancock to her mother Rachel, her sister Ellen, and her niece Sarah, during Cornelia's time serving as a nurse in Pennsylvania and Virginia; her mother and sister occasionally returned letters giving news of the family in New Jersey. Other correspondents represented in the collection include Cornelia's brother, William N. Hancock; Caroline Dod, the mother of a soldier who died during the war; and several soldiers who expressed gratitude for Hancock's work. In her letters, Cornelia discussed in some detail her work as a nurse during the war, including several accounts of specific wounds and illnesses. Slavery and the social and economic conditions of freedmen are focal points of the letters written during Hancock's time at the Contraband Hospital in Washington, D.C. Though most of the letters concentrate on wounded soldiers and military hospitals and treatments, Hancock and others often expressed political opinions, reported on developments in the war, and shared news of loved ones in the field or back home.

An early series of letters documents Hancock's experiences at the Camp Letterman Hospital after the Battle of Gettysburg, when she first noted "There are no words in the English language to express the sufferings I witnessed today…" (July 7, 1863). A few months later, in October 1863, Hancock left for Washington, D.C., where her letters document her time working with African American refugees at the Contraband Hospital. Twice, she related encounters with President Lincoln. Robert Owen, a former United States ambassador to Italy, once "read to us a speech that he read to the President one Sunday…The subject was the Pardoning power vested in the President. He said that Abraham listened with all his attention then asked him if he would give it to him and also had him promise he would not have it published for the present, said he would read and consider it well. [Lincoln] Complimented Mr. Owen, told him he had been of much service to him in many ways" (October 25, 1863). On another occasion, Hancock recounted a personal glimpse of Abraham Lincoln: "Little Meenah Breed and I went to the White House, and I told you I would encounter the President- sure enough there he stood talking to some poor woman. I did not stop him because he was in a hurry but I know him now and I shall. It is a much easier matter to see him than Stanton" (October 29, 1863). Other letters from this period pertain to the state of escaped slaves (November 15, 1863) and the state of the anti-slavery movement: "Where are the people who have been professing such strong abolition proclivity for the last 30 years[?] Certainly not in Washington laboring with these people whom they have been clamoring to have freed" [January 1864].

In February 1864, Hancock moved again to work with the 3rd Division of the 2nd Corps at Brandy Station, Virginia. Hancock was here during the Battle of the Wilderness, the aftermath of which is represented in Hancock's accounts and in a letter of Henry Child to his wife, Ellen (née Hancock), wherein he warns, "You will hear of another terrible battle yesterday" (May 12, 1864). Soon after the Battle of the Wilderness, Hancock accompanied the Union Army during their march through Virginia. Items from this period include a description of a "rebel house…The house was visited by our Cavalry guard and found deserted, also that the the [sic] gentleman owning the house was a chief of Guerillas, consequently the house was burned to the ground" (May 3, 1864, author unknown). In June 1864, Hancock spent a few days at White House, Virginia, before eventually stopping at City Point, Virginia, where she remained until the end of the war. During this period, she reflected on what had become normal experiences in the time she spent with the army: "A shell explodes every little while, not far away. About as much account is made of it as the dropping of a pin at home. Habit is a wonderfull [sic] matter" (June 7, 1864).

At City Point, Hancock continued to work with the ill and wounded soldiers of the Union army, and in many of her letters, she described specific soldiers or wounds she treated. Among these soldiers was Charlie Dod, a New Jersey native who served with Cornelia's friend Henry Smith. Dod's August 17, 1864, letter is included in the collection, as well as two notes by Cornelia relating that "Capt. Dod is now dying in my bed" (August 27, 1864) and "Capt. Dod of Henry's company died in my bed today. His mother arrived in time to see him just one day and night…The scene was very affecting and I shall never forget it" (August 27, 1864). Charlie's mother, Caroline Dod, became an occasional correspondent after this time and continued to hold Cornelia in high regard throughout the rest of her life. Another notable item from this period is an official Union army pass allowing Cornelia to travel to and from Washington, D.C.; this is enclosed in a letter from Rachel Hancock dated October 20, 1864.

By the spring of 1865, the Union army was closing in on Richmond, and Cornelia Hancock was near the Confederate capital when it fell. On April 3, 1865, she reported, "This morning we could see the flames of Petersburg lighting the skies[. I] suppose the rebels are compelled to evacuate the place. Our troops can enter now at any time…Gen Weitzel entered Richmond this morning at 8 A.M. There is great rejoicing here of course." Even better was the feeling of release that accompanied the end of the fighting: "The situation is splendid the air so fresh and altogether it seems like getting out of prison to get away from C[ity] P[oint] we were there so long" (May 13, 1865).

The undated papers and fragments appear at the end of the collection and include eight letters and fragments written by Hancock as well as five letters from Caroline Dod. These appear to date from the Civil War period. One fragment was written on the reverse side of a table of contents from the 8th volume of Connop Thirlwall's History of Greece.

Other postwar material in the series includes the following three items:
  • A January 3, 1866, letter of reference from Robert Dale Owen, a friend of Dr. Henry Child, stating that the "bearer of this, Miss Cornelia Hancock…is about to visit the South, there to aid in the education of the children of freedmen," and giving a glowing account of Hancock's merits.
  • An August 27, 1890, letter from Caroline B. Dod, in which she reflected on the death of her son and expressed continuing gratitude for Hancock's sympathy during his final hours. The letter is accompanied by its original envelope, which was used by a later owner of the material to house Robert Owen's letter of reference for Cornelia Hancock (January 3, 1866) and an undated Swarthmore Library ticket with manuscript biographical notes on Owen.
  • An April 25, 1892, letter from S. B. Dod to Cornelia Hancock, in which he explained that his mother had left Hancock a legacy in her will as a token of "her appreciation of your great kindness to my brother Charlie."
The series includes three additional items, interfiled chronologically. These include:
  • January 8, 1864: A pass authorizing Ellen Child and one friend to travel "over Chain and Aqueduct Bridges and Alexandria Ferry, within the lines of the Fortifications"
  • January 12, 1864: A pass authorizing "Miss C. Hancock team, driver, and Contrabands to Arlington Va and return."
  • "A piece of the ornaments upon the flag of the 116th Pa. Vol." Verso: "Capt. Shoener's Regt." (Undated)
The Reminiscences and Other Writings series series includes several items:
  • A 10-page typescript with unattributed manuscript annotations. Topics include the personality of Hancock's father and an account of her time at Gettysburg, told in the first person. This text is the basis for some of the biographical information included in published editions of Hancock's letters.
  • A 10-page incomplete typescript written well after the war, with unattributed manuscript annotations. The text is a first-person account of Hancock's war experiences near the end of the war. Of particular interest is a recollection that "April 8th Abraham Lincoln visited our hospital." The typescript is the basis for much of the biographical information included in published editions of Hancock's letters.
  • A first-person manuscript fragment, written in the style of a diary and with a note on the reverse that the author, likely Cornelia Hancock, "would like this sent to mother and have her copy it." The note also says that "Soldiering now days is hard work."
  • An incomplete third-person account of Cornelia Hancock, covering the very beginning with her journey to Gettysburg "with Mrs. Elizabeth W. Farnham, who was an eminent writer," in July 1863.
  • An 8-page manuscript account of Cornelia Hancock's departure for the theater of war. The manuscript includes two slightly different copies of the same material, and a lapse into the first person suggests that Cornelia Hancock is the author.

The Cornelia Hancock Obituary is a small newspaper obituary published on January 1, [1928], entitled "Civil War Nurse Dies, Closing Busy Career." The item was not part of the original accession and was discovered in a book in the Clements Library in 1985.

The Ephemera series includes eight items:
  • A 4" x 6" photograph on card stock showing a party of women and military men gathered in front of several tents. The photograph is labeled "Cornelia Hancock." [1860s]
  • A newspaper clipping "Queen of Field Nurses at Ninety in Feeble Health," recounting the decline of Florence Nightingale. [1910]
  • Five identical sheets of paper bearing the letterhead of the Association of Army Nurses of the Civil War. The letterhead includes a list of officers of the organization. One sheet is marked, "To Cornelia," and is slightly torn.
  • A book jacket from the 1937 edition of South after Gettysburg; letters of Cornelia Hancock, 1863-1868.

The following card photograph from the collection is currently housed in the graphics division:

  • "Capt. Charles Dod[,] A. A. Gen. in Gen. Hancocks staff. 2nd Corps[,] A.P." Portrait of Charles Dod, by [Frederick August] Wenderoth & [William Curtis] Taylor, Philadelphia, ca. 1864.

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.


Edith Ellison Williams Family Papers, 1859, 2018

1.75 cubic foot (in 4 boxes)

The collection includes Edith Ellison Williams family papers, mostly of the World War II letters of her father, Max Ellison, to his wife (Edith's mother), Florence. Also included are Civil War letters of Chauncey J. Bunyea, his friends and relatives who mostly served in Michigan units, and family history materials.

The collection consists of family information of Edith Williams, 1859, 2018, 1.75 Cubic Feet (in 4 boxes). The collection is organized into three series: Civil War, World War II, and Family Materials, and within each series by size and format, chronologically, and then alphabetically. General family history information includes: a family tree, affidavits, ledgers, letters, biographical information, ancestry information, naturalization records, and death certificates.

Civil War correspondence includes accounts from Chauncy Bunyea, Daniel Chapin, Edward Trembley, and some Union soldiers who were friends or neighbors (see Miscellaneous Correspondence folders). This series includes letters and war accounts spanning the entirety of the Civil War. There are accounts of Gettysburg, the Second Battle of Bull Run, the Siege of Petersburg-Richmond, fighting in eastern Tennessee, and letters talking about home life in Michigan. Topics mentioned include enlistment, witnesses of a court-martial and execution, life as a Union soldier, troop movements, generals McClellan, Butterfield, and Pope, and the occupation of forts and camps.

World War II correspondence includes accounts from Max M. Ellison, a soldier in the 1st Cavalry Division of the Michigan Seventh Cavalry, about his experience fighting in the Pacific Theatre of war. This portion of the collection includes letters to Ellison’s wife (Florence), daughter (Edith), and Nortons (in-laws). The main themes of the letters are about the life of a soldier, fighting on the front line, and the liberation of the Philippines, Admiralty Islands, and New Guinea. The letters also contain experiences about interacting with the local population, cutting hair for soldiers, the cigar trade between soldiers, entertainment, local wildlife, and the local food. Furthermore, Ellison writes about President Franklin Roosevelt, dead Japanese soldiers, and prizes of war. The tone of his letters are more serious after October 20, 1944, following the invasion of the Philippines. He sees combat until March 6, 1945, after he is wounded and placed in the hospital. Additionally, Ellison writes extensively about his Michigan hometown of Bellaire, training horses, and building a future home and life. Some of the letters include church service pamphlets, hospital pamphlets, newspaper clippings, and drawings.

Processing Note: During processing .25 cubic feet of peripheral materials and envelopes were removed from the collection and returned to the donor as per the donor agreement. Acidic materials were photocopied and the originals were withdrawn from the collection.


Elisabeth Barnett Fisher papers, 1858-1916 (majority within 1858-1864)

0.25 linear feet

The Elisabeth Barnett Fisher Papers consist of the family letters of Elisabeth Fisher along with financial records, photographs, ephemeral items, and eight miscellaneous items. The most common themes of the letters are family news and finances, fashion, religion, courtship, marriages, deaths, and opinions about the Civil War.

The Elisabeth Barnett Fisher Papers consist of 63 letters to Elisabeth Fisher, 25 financial records, two photographs, 13 ephemeral items, and eight miscellaneous items.

The primary correspondents of the letters in the Correspondence Series are: Gabriel G. Barnett (brother), Hester Ann Barr (sister), Mary A. Hochstetler (sister), Caroline Barnett (sister), Cal M. Barnett (sister), Sarah Barnett (sister-in-law), David D. Barnett (brother), Susannah Fair (sister), E.H. Barnett (sister-in-law), Sarah Ann Senff (cousin), and Jacob Barnett (father). The majority of the 63 letters in the collection were written during the Civil War by family members (48) and friends (15). With the exception of 19 letters from her brother, Gabriel G. Barnett, and 7 letters from her sister, Hester Ann Barr, no other correspondent wrote more than 5 letters; consequently, the subject matter in the collection is very diverse. However, the most common themes throughout the correspondence are family news and finances, fashion, religion, courtship, marriages, deaths, and attitudes and opinions about the Civil War. The solders letters are typically brief and primarily consist of descriptions of camp life. Several of the letters from home include patriotic exhortations; one describes a patriotic rally and another reveals the anti-Lincoln sentiments of an 1860 Democrat. The letters also demonstrated the economic hardships the family suffered as a result of the war.

The Financial Papers Series includes tax bills, receipts, and records of Elisabeth's bills paid for by her son, Erwin G. Barnett, successor to his father’s harness business.

The Photographs, Documents, and Ephemera series contains: 3 'flirtation' cards; a funeral card for the death of a 13 year-old girl; a calling card; 2 cartes-de-visite of a young girl and young man; a Reichsbanknote; several newspaper clippings; Valentine Fisher's confirmation certificate; and George W. Rulow's post of the Grand Army of the Republic transfer card.

The Miscellaneous Series holds two notes on the Barnett/Fisher genealogy.

Visual material includes:
  • Rough pen illustration of two swans, January 15, 1860.
  • Pen illustration of a feather, May 28, 1860.
  • Rough pen illustration (of a chicken or a saddle), December 31, 1860.
  • Pen sketch of a plant, June 6, 1861.
  • Pen illustration of a bearded man with hat, January 13, 1864.
  • Pen illustration of feathers, undated.
  • Two miscellaneous cards have printed illustrations of flowers on them.
  • Printed image of an ark, plus additional religious imagery on confirmation document of Valentine Fisher.

The collection also includes several patriotic letterheads and envelopes.


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.


Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War, 1862-1865

2 volumes

The collection consists of 100 albumen prints (23 x 17.7 cm) in two volumes (both 42.5 x 33 cm). Each volume has a brown leather cover with brass clasps. Each volume contains 50 mounted, consecutively-numbered albumen prints depicting the operations of the Army of the Potomac during and in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War.

The collection consists of 100 (23 x 17.7 cm) albumen prints in two volumes (both 42.5 x 33 cm). Each volume has a brown leather cover with brass clasps. Both volumes contain 50 mounted, consecutively-numbered albumen prints depicting the operations of the Army of the Potomac during and in the immediate aftermath of the American Civil War.

Every image is preceded by a paragraph of text describing the context and background of the photograph that follows. The photographs cover the period between March of 1862 and June of 1865. Readers should be aware that the photographs in the album are not arranged in an exact chronological sequence; many, but not all of the photographs have dates associated with them. The majority of the photographs depict sites in Virginia, but photographs from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina are also present.


Henry James family correspondence, 1855-1865 (majority within 1861-1864)

27 items

This collection is made up primarily of incoming correspondence to husband and wife Gilbert and Adeline James of Cherry Creek, New York. Their most prolific correspondent was Gilbert's brother Henry James, who sent 18 letters, most written while serving in Company C of the 7th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. Henry James wrote to his family about life at Maple Grove, near Saginaw, Michigan; camp life during training at Camp Kellogg, Grand Rapids; experiences fighting at Gettysburg and elsewhere in Pennsylvania; and his posting at Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C.

This collection is made up primarily of incoming correspondence to husband and wife Gilbert and Adeline James of Cherry Creek, New York, 1855-1865. Their most prolific correspondent was Gilbert's brother Henry James, who sent 18 letters, most while serving in Company C of the 7th Michigan Cavalry during the Civil War. Henry James wrote to his family about life at Maple Grove, near Saginaw, Michigan; camp life during training at Camp Kellogg, Grand Rapids; experiences fighting at Gettysburg and elsewhere in Pennsylvania; and his posting at Camp Stoneman, Washington, D.C. Also included are three letters from George Bentley, apparently of the 112th New York Infantry, to Adeline James, 1862-1863.

See the box and folder listing below for detailed information about each letter.