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Asa Grant letters, 1812-1813

21 items

Asa Grant wrote 20 letters to his parents while serving with a New York Militia regiment during the War of 1812. From September 1812-February 1813, Grant was stationed at Sacketts Harbor, New York, where he described recent battles, troop health, and other aspects of military life.

This collection (21 items) contains 20 letters that Asa Grant wrote to his parents while serving with a New York Militia regiment during the War of 1812. From September 1812-February 1813, he was stationed at Sacketts Harbor, New York, where he described recent battles, troop health, and other aspects of military life. The collection also contains a fragment from a report of prisoners at Sackets Harbor.

Grant first wrote to his family while traveling from Delaware County, New York, to Sacketts Harbor, which he reached around September 23, 1812. There, he mentioned the presence of other troops and commented on the strength of the American naval force and the presumed strength of British forces. He also discussed recent battles, including naval warfare, and other developments in the war; on December 13, 1812, Grant mentioned having attended an officer's funeral. Grant reported news of officers and other members of his regiment, and frequently referred to the effects of illnesses among the soldiers and local civilians. Other soldiers deserted, were discharged, or hired substitutes.

The collection also includes a fragment from a morning report of prisoners at Sackets Harbor, enclosed with a document about the strength of the United States' naval forces on Lake Ontario and the British military.


Byron D. Paddock collection, 1862-1865

18 items

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

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


Charles M. Barnett journal, 1863-1864

1 volume

Charles M. Barnett's Civil War journal documents important events in southeastern Tennessee between August and October, 1863, including the Tullahoma Campaign, the retreat from Chickamauga, and parts of the Chattanooga Campaign.

Charles M. Barnett's journal is contained in a single volume, beginning May 1, 1863. The entries for 1864 are written in the front part of the same volume, with corrections as to day and date noted occasionally. The journal contains particularly useful information on the signal events in southeastern Tennessee between August and October, 1863, including the Tullahoma Campaign, the retreat from Chickamauga, and parts of the Chattanooga Campaign, including the opening of the Cracker Line and the Wauhatchie Night Attack.


Henry Pippitt papers, 1864-1865

128 items

Virtually all of Henry Pippitt's surviving Civil War correspondence consists of letters addressed to his mother, Rebecca, documenting two intertwining themes: the Petersburg Campaign from start to finish, and Pippitt's personal campaign to keep himself and his family in good order.Pippitt's letters offer commentary on the last year of the war as seen through the eyes of a young working class man, grown up far beyond his years.

Virtually all of Henry Pippitt's surviving Civil War correspondence consists of letters addressed to his mother, Rebecca, documenting two intertwining themes: the Petersburg Campaign from start to finish, and Pippitt's personal campaign to keep himself and his family in good order. Well written, if not particularly polished, Pippitt's letters offer fine commentary on the last year of the war as seen through the eyes of a young working class man, grown up far beyond his years.

Pippitt's personal struggles weave throughout the collection, surfacing at numerous points, and his various ways of dealing with his ragged home life are reflective both of the depth of his difficulties and his resourcefulness. He alternately castigates, cajoles, threatens or ignores his dead beat father, does his best to assuage his mother's depression over losing her son to the army, and her jealousy of the woman he courts, and he does his best to deal with or explain away his financial problems and his own lapses into drink. Throughout all of his experiences, military and personal, Pippitt matures physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Of particular interest is the letter of September 4, 1864, in which Pippitt describes why he is (again) out of cash. After sketching a somewhat fantastic tale of heavy rains, floods, and an entire camp swept away in the deluge, he swears that the story is the truth and not a lie. This and other letters illustrate an interesting dichotomy in Pippitt's character. Having grown up in a lower-class family, he is constantly aware of the shortage of money, both in camp and at home, but despite his frequent promises to send home sizable sums, he manages to fritter away most of his pay and at times, dips liberally into the already slender family purse to supply himself with what he calls "necessaries."

In more narrowly military terms, the collection contains several brief, but powerful letters describing the hard life in the Petersburg trenches, skirmishes, and the battles of Petersburg, the Crater, and Cold Harbor. A curious side note is Pippitt's tale of the Confederate defenders of Petersburg under-mining Union forts facing the city following the Crater disaster. The series of letters written from Point of Rocks and Chafin's Farm illustrate not only the constricting stagnation of the siege effort during the winter of 1864-65, but the gradually deteriorating morale of the Confederate forces, seen in a flood tide of deserters.

Finally, Pippitt's use of language is often as interesting as what he says. His use of phrases such as "dead beat" (24:45), "helter skelter" (24:66), "if he don't like it, he can lump it" (24:37), or "let [the landlord] know that you haint a going to be shit on by him" (24:38) seem thoroughly up to date, and are an excellent record of urban, working-class patterns of speech.


New York (N.Y.) Police records, 1862-1888

3 volumes

The New York (N.Y.) Police records are made up of three volumes of the records of the 20th and 35th police precincts. These volumes record (in varying degrees of detail) criminal infractions, the names of perpetrators, the date of their crimes, their gender, their race, their age, and other personal details.

Although spare in narrative, these blotters taken from two New York City police precincts offer historically valuable information on police activity, patterns of arrest, and the frequency of civil and criminal infractions committed in one of the city's most impoverished areas during the 19th century. These simple, brief records provide a finely wrought portrait of an urban life constantly threatened by the intrusions of drink and chaotic violence. The blotters cover two disparate areas and three non-contiguous periods of time:

August 1-November 30, 1862 and February 1-June 8, 1864 (20th precinct)

December 2, 1887-January 12, 1888 (35th Precinct)

The two earlier volumes are particularly interesting and important, representing a record of arrests made during the Civil War period in the 20th Precinct, a tenement district that included Hell's Kitchen. Covering parts of the years 1862 and 1864, the blotters include careful, standardized records of lost children, "lodgers" (indigents seeking night shelter), and persons picked up for various civil infractions, the most numerous of which by far were drunk and disorderly, intoxication, and habitual drunkenness. Each entry includes a record of the time of arrest, the name, race, age, place of birth, occupation, marital status, and ability to read and write of each offender, along with a list of their possessions at the time of arrest - and usually a brief description of the charges. Most, but not all records contain an indication of the sentence, as well. These blotters comprise a valuable source for statistical analysis of temporal, spatial, and personal patterns of behavior considered criminal during the mid-19th century.

The offenses recorded in the blotters include both criminal and civil infractions. The most common criminal breaches were fighting and assault and battery, but included assault with deadly weapon, forgery, and burglary. Though less dramatic, the civil infractions were more numerous, particularly those related to alcohol consumption, but including a strong measure of disorderly conduct and vagrancy, and, in one case, a milkman who violated the "milk law." The police were additionally charged with such mundane duties in the community as investigating sudden deaths, closing the doors of stores or homes that had been left open, responding to accidents in the street and at home, and tracking down stray horses, cattle, and deserters from the army - many from the Irish Brigade.

The last of the three registers, kept in 1887-1888, includes a thorough roll of policemen and patrols on each shift in the 35th Precinct (at the northernmost tip of Manhattan), but relatively few records of crimes. It includes a useful, and apparently complete listing of posts in the precinct, with a careful delineation of the boundaries of each, but unlike the 20th Precinct, the 35th appears to have suffered far less from crime and drink. It offers very rare glimpses into the social lives of the residents such as a 51 year old Irishman, Thomas Gannon, whose wife refused to support him for three weeks while he was incapacitated with a dislocated hip (December 9, 1887).


Robert and George Whitcomb papers, 1862-1867

36 items

The Whitcomb letters reflect a small portion of the Civil War service of brothers George and Robert Whitcomb in the 169th New York Infantry Regiment. These papers include reflections on draftees, draft resisters, deserters, paroled Union soldiers, and active service.

The Whitcomb letters reflect a portion of the Civil War service of George and Robert Whitcomb. The collection includes thirteen war-date letters from Robert (plus one post-war letter), five from George and two from both brothers, all but one addressed to their parents, Eli and Harriet or to their family. Among the remaining correspondence are six letters from Melvin Whitcomb and five letters from Catie (Brevoort) Brailey, a cousin from Delta, Ohio.

Robert's letters, in particular, provide an interesting commentary on several aspects of the war. First, while it would be hard to consider him the prototypical ideologically-motivated soldier, Robert can be quite passionate about his duty. Typical are his anger over deserters and draft dodgers fleeing New York for Canada, 800 a day by some reports, and the venom with which he talks about the rioters in New York City ("I hope that such men as refuse to come after they have been drafted will be hung or shot & if they had my position there would be no danger of either" 1863 July 23). He was adamant that the draftees who were assigned to the 169th would do nothing to besmirch the regiment's good reputation, and his long diatribe on draftees gives a distinctive, volunteer's view of the conscript.

Robert recognized and appreciated the fact that in his position with the quartermaster he had it much easier than the average soldier. On expeditions, he rode, while George and others marched, and during battles, Robert was generally held back. Despite this, Robert was very anxious to get the fighting done with and to end the war on Union terms. In one of his most moving letters, he describes the galvanizing experience of seeing Union soldiers paroled from southern prisons, walking skeletons, some of whom died when eating their first full meal. "We had ought to kill everyone [of the rebels] that we come for," he wrote, "for they hant human beings they are brutes… I wish you could see one load of them prisoners you would say kill every man in the Rebel army" (1865 March 7). His strong feelings for his fellow soldiers, and particularly for his brother, permeate several letters, and after his separation from George when George was sent to Florida, Robert's letters become more thoughtful, displaying a determined, and occasionally mournful or bitter streak. His letter of 1864 February 23 is particularly moving, in which he recounts the loneliness he felt and his fears for the expedition.

George's letters include some interesting descriptions of active field service, including a humorous episode in which five members of the 13th Indiana Infantry that were out picking blackberries ran into several Confederate cavalrymen. Not having their weapons with them, they grabbed cornstalks and charged at the cavalrymen, shouting, taking them by surprise and scattering them. They returned to camp with two bay mares and another horse worth, as George was quick to point out, $500 a piece in normal times.

Finally, the collection includes some interesting letters relating to the intriguing case of Melvin Whitcomb, who seems to have tried unsuccessfully to avoid the draft. In one letter to his father, Melvin begs for proof that he was under age, but in his next letter, written in February, 1864, he was in a conscript camp on Riker's Island attempting to resist the state's efforts to place him in the 98th Infantry. By the following March, with two years remaining in his enlistment, Melvin was living with relatives in Delta, Ohio, though it is a little unclear what his status was with the military. Robert, who all along sympathized with Melvin, wrote that Mel would never be able to take comfort, and would always feel guilty, suggesting, without saying it, that Mel was a deserter (1865 March 7). Mel began working on the canals, and may have adopted a false name, Eugene Hoyle to write home, though this is somewhat speculative. Regardless, Mel had returned to New York State by the summer of 1867, and was living in Robert's new place on Bald Mountain.


William Henry Lyttelton papers, 1730-1806, 1755-1761

5 linear feet.

The William Henry Lyttelton papers document Lyttelton's career as governor of South Carolina and governor of Jamaica. These items primarily relate to colonial administration of South Carolina and Jamaica, and military engagements with Native Americans on the South Carolina frontier and against the French in the West Indies.

The William Henry Lyttelton papers (1217 items) document Lyttelton's service as governor of South Carolina and governor of Jamaica. The collection consists of 864 letters (including 26 letters from Lyttelton), 316 documents, 37 financial records, four letter books, and one personal account book. These items primarily relate to colonial administration of South Carolina and Jamaica, and military engagements with Native Americans on the frontier and against the French in the West Indies. Document types include intelligence reports, orders, treaties, drafts of acts, pardons, and speeches; financial documents consist of disbursements, payment and supply receipts, and government and military expenses.

The bulk of the collection documents Lyttelton's governorship in South Carolina. Lyttelton received communications and reports from officials in London, southern governors, the Superintendent for Indian Affairs in the Southern Colonies John Stuart, Indian Agent Edmond Atkin, military commanders, and members of the South Carolina Commons House of Assembly, the Council, and courts. Some of the most important items are 37 letters, reports, and enclosures from Agent Edmond Atkin on Indian relations, and 21 letters from Jeffery Amherst that describe his activities against the French at Fort Carillon (Ticonderoga) and Crown Point.

Topics of note include:
  • Construction of new forts and reports on the condition of forts and other defense efforts
  • Taxes, trade, tariffs, and embargoes concerning South Carolina
  • Relations and conflicts with various tribes, including the Catawba, Chautauqua, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Coweta, Creek, Shawnee, and Savannah tribes
  • The escalating Anglo-Cherokee war (Cherokee Rebellion) and French efforts to ally with the Cherokee during the French and Indian War
  • The postage system connecting the southern provinces
  • Smallpox and diseases among settlers, troops, and Native American populations
  • Intelligence on French military activities, including many intercepted French letters

In addition to communications between colonial officials regarding trade policies, peace treaties, boundary agreements, and military conflicts, the collection also contains letters and speeches from various Native American leaders including: Attakullakulla (Little Carpenter), Black Dog, King Hagler, Long Dog, Ohatchie [Wohatchee], Oconostota [Ouconnostotah], Old Hop, Standing Turkey, Tistoe of Keowee, Usteneka (Judge's friend), Willinawa, The Wolf, and Young Warrior of Estatoe. (See Additional Descriptive Data for a list of items written by Native Americans.)

Highlights of the South Carolina material include:
  • September 7, 1730: Copy of "Articles of Friendship & Commerce proposed by the Lords Commissioners for trade and plantations to the Deputies of the Cherokee Nation in South Carolina"
  • July 18, 1755-April 23, 1756: Jerome Courtonne's journal of his time with the Chickasaw Nation in Georgia
  • August 3-September 1755: Lyttelton's account of his capture by the French on his way to South Carolina, his imprisonment in France, and his return to England
  • July 5, 1756: Instructions to end communications with the French in South Carolina and to stop supplying them with provisions or arms
  • September 15, 1756: Conflicts between the Upper Creek and the colonial settlements at Ogeechee
  • November 8 and 12, 1756: Directions from William De Brahm to Raymond Demere concerning the operations of Fort Septentrional on the Tennessee River
  • [1756]: Daniel Pepper to Lyttelton with remarks on the Creek Nation
  • [1756]: "Short observations upon several points relative to the present constitution of the province of South Carolina"
  • March 4, 1757: Proposal to improve fortifications at Charleston and Fort Johnson
  • April 24, 1757: Minutes of a meeting of governors from Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Virginia concerning southern defenses
  • May 1757: Proposed Asylum Act for the settlement of Georgia
  • September 12, 1757: Letter from Thomas Wigg to Lyttelton concerning the construction of Fort Lyttelton
  • [1757]: Catawba leader King Hagler to Cherokee leader Old Hop concerning the Catawba joining the British against the French and their Indian allies
  • June 24, 1758: Intelligence from three French deserters from forts in French Louisiana
  • July 27, 1758: Copy of article of capitulation between Generals Amherst, Admiral Boscowen, and Drucour at Louisbourg
  • September 8, 1758: Joseph Wright’s journal of negotiations with the Lower Creeks (July 20-August 7, 1758)
  • December 23, 1758: Letter from John Murray to Lyttelton which includes a list of acts to be reviewed by the South Carolina Assembly
  • May 5, 1759: Intelligence from Samuel Wyly on a Cherokee attack on colonial settlers
  • May 17, 1759: Advertisement warning against illegal trading with Native Americans
  • July 27, 1759: Letter from Jeffrey Amherst to Lyttelton describing the taking Ticonderoga and Crown Point from the French
  • August 1, 1759: Intelligence from Cherokee Indian Buffalo Skin to Paul Demere
  • August 18, 1759: Copy of a treaty between Great Britain and the Choctaw Nation with a list of Choctaw towns and prices for trade goods
  • September 4, 1759: Letter from James Wright to Lyttelton enclosing copies of two letters from Benjamin Franklin concerning the postal system
  • October 12, 1759: South Carolina Assembly to Lyttelton regarding resolutions on the Cherokee Expedition
  • October 19, 1759: List of Cherokee living in Charleston
  • [October 1759]: A letter from King Hagler and other Catawba leaders voicing their friendship with the colonists and describing an outbreak of smallpox in their community (with signatures from chiefs)
  • November 30, 1759: Edmond Atkin letter with enclosures regarding negotiations with Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee tribes, as well as intelligence
  • [1759]: Lyttelton's declaration of war against the Cherokee
  • January 29, February 12, 1760: Extracts of letters concerning murders and outrages committed by Cherokees
  • February 7, 1760: Journal kept at Fort Prince George during an attack by the Cherokee signed by R. Coytmer, Alexander Miln, and John Bell (January 13-February 7, 1760)

The collection contains 162 items that document Lyttelton's service in Jamaica (1761-1766). These consist primarily of letters from various naval officers, army officers, and British agents serving in the West Indies. Lyttelton also received letters from the Jamaica Committee of Correspondence, and local planters. Of note is material on the Coromantee slave rebellion (Tacky's Rebellion), a violent slave insurrection at St. Mary Parish in Jamaica in 1765.

Other topics include:
  • Relations with other European properties in the West Indies and conflicts with Spain and France
  • The British capture of the Morro Fortress in Havana
  • The losses suffered by the Boston merchant ship John Gally after the French capture of Turks Islands
  • Slave labor in Jamaica and the practice of raising regiments of slaves and black men to fight for Britain
  • Sickness among the British troops and African slaves
  • Danger of wide scale slave disturbances and escapes in November-December 1765
  • Disagreements between Sir James Douglas and Lyttelton after Douglas was not saluted when he arrived on the island
  • News that Charles Wyndham, 2nd Earl of Egremont, the secretary of state of the Southern Department, had died
  • British Acts of Navigation and laws passed in Jamaica
  • Differences of opinion on taxes between continental proprietors and island proprietors and on the implementation and repeal of the Stamp Act
  • Issues surrounding smuggling brandy and levying duties on spirits
  • Inspections of the fortifications in Jamaica in preparation for war
  • The Jamaica assembly's efforts to remove Lyttelton from office for alleged misconduct

Also of note is a letter from Mary Fearon regarding Lyttelton's purchase of a slave for his children in England (March 21, 1766). The collection contains one letter from Lyttelton's retirement in England, a June 8, 1796, item addressed to Mortimer Street concerning poetry.

Volume 1 (446 pages) and Volume 2 (76 pages) are a copy books containing letters from Lyttelton to British government and military officials, covering August 1757 to March 1760, while Lyttelton was governor of South Carolina. These provide answers to many of the incoming letters from the Correspondence and Documents series. Both volumes have alphabetical indices of letter recipients.

Volume 3 (125 pages) is a copybook containing two sets of letters. In the first group (pages 1-99) are secret and private dispatches between Lyttelton and British military leadership related to coordinating attacks on French forts in Alabama, Mobile, and Florida (1758-1759). The second group (pages 1a-26a) consists of miscellaneous letters labeled "Omitted in the Former Books," (1756-1759).

Volume 4 (30 pages) is Lyttelton's personal copybook covering his outgoing letters from April 15, 1762 to September 11, 1765, while stationed in Jamaica. Recipients include Governor General Philippe-François of Saint-Domingue, Marquis de Lambertye, Governor de St. Louis, Comte de Choiseul, Colonel John Irwin, Captain Kafflin, Monieur de Chambette de St. Louis a Paris, Captain Geofry, Comte do Ricla, and Comte d'Elva. Several of the letters concern prisoners of war. All letters are in French.

Volume 5 (167 pages) is Lyttelton's accounts book covering 1755 to 1806. The accounts detail Lyttelton's income, expenditures, and investments throughout his career, including his posts in South Carolina, Jamaica, Portugal, and England. Entries occasionally include brief mentions of his and his family's whereabouts.