This collection consists of 41 letters between members of the Beattie family of Salem, New York, including 24 letters that John C. Beattie sent to his wife while working at Clinton Prison in Dannemora, New York, during the Civil War.
John Beattie's letters home pertain to his daily experiences at Clinton Prison, and he reported on prisoners and conditions within the institution. He reported news of his sons, both members of the Union Army, and occasionally commented on current events, such as his wish that John Wilkes Booth had been hanged or burned at the stake rather than shot (April 27, 1865). In a letter to his sister Martha, Robert Beattie mentioned his enlistment in the "Salem Company" and his preference for enlistment over the draft (August 3, 1862). The remaining correspondence is made up of letters by members of the extended Beattie family and the family's acquaintances.