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Edmund Townsend papers, 1862-1864

11 items

Edmund Townsend served as quartermaster in the 3rd Delaware Infantry Regiment from 1862 to 1865. His letters to his brother Samuel describe his court martial and protracted feud with his commanding officer, Col. Jenkins. There is also a detailed description of a train accident in June 1862 which killed a number of men and horses and destroyed much of his unit's equipment.

Townsend's eleven letters to his brother, Samuel, provide little information on the war, per se, but they do provide a powerful image of a strong personality. From his first letter, in which he threatens two men and his sister-in-law at home for "develing" his wife ("I will cum home and kick his damned arse") to his protracted feud with Col. Jenkins, Townsend is consistently feisty and willing to fight for what he perceives to be his rights. Unfortunately, much of the original correspondence between the brothers is missing. There is a large gap between the two letters written in April and June, 1862, and the remainder of the collection written primarily in late 1863 and early 1864, and nothing at all written after May, 1864.

Among the highlights of this small collection are Townsend's detailed description of the railroad accident in June, 1862, and the series of letters written while he was under arrest. He records Jenkins' gloating "that he has me now and intends to keep me in arest," but later, after he has secured his release through Congressman Smithers' influence, he gloats a "general Shout and laugh [went] all through the Regt amongst the Privates and non commissioned officers when they herd Jenkins was in arest." His comments on Jenkins' alleged attempts to interfere with the soldiers' voting in the election of 1863, and on Jenkins' acquittal by a court packed with Freemasons are also of considerable interest. Finally, in February and March, 1864, while Townsend was attempting to resign from the service, there are three interesting letters in which he reports scouting out land to purchase in Maryland. He surveyed kaolin deposits on one tract, and was rapturous over an estate south of Annapolis that he purchased to farm when the war ended.


John Frizell orderly book, 1761-1779

1 volume

This orderly book, kept by John Frizell a quartermaster sergeant in the British army, accounts for the general and regimental orders for the 77th Royal British Regiment stationed near Halifax from June 22 to October 1, 1761.

This orderly book accounts for the daily general and regimental orders for the 77th Royal British Regiment stationed near Halifax from June 22 to October 1, 1761.

Entries begin with the daily password (parole) and countersign followed by officers chosen for duty and the text of the official orders (60 pages). Passwords were typically either names of British royalty or names of towns in England (Bristol, Bath, Yarmouth, Worchester etc.). Many orders were directed not just to the soldiers but to the citizens of the area. A reoccurring order forbade the settlers from providing liquor to soldiers or to let soldiers drink in their tents or huts (p. 7). This policy, however, was often not followed. Other orders concerned that day's "working party." The party was commonly required to retrieve wood from the lumber yard, get provisions from the store, distribute goods to the other men, stand guard, and travel. The orders also included logistical details such as the rations of beer per man per week; each member got 2 quarts per day for 6 pence each week (page 48).

The volume's last 160 pages contain Frizell's personal accounts of his settlements at Dedham and Port Royal (Port Annapolis) between 1762 and 1766. Many entries are copies of orders and contracts for making shoes, along with inventories of food and wood. Pages 78-79 contain drafts of advertisements for a night school targeted at "those who cannot attend during the day." The ad states that "A school will be opened by John Frizell att his dwelling at Norton New precinct at any time where will be taught reading wrighting and siffering and something of geometry of Required and the Mensuration of triangles &c. &c. &c." This page also contains a bar of music for singing a psalm that "Note[s] mi is an F."

The book appears to have been used for the secondary purposes of working out math problems and practicing penmanship. Many pages, including the bottom of some orderly pages and in between copies of letters, have scripture quotations written in an elegant hand. These also fill much of the back half of the book.

Other interesting items include a letter to his mother, offering a rare bit of personal information (p. 136); a recipe for black ink (p. 139), and a short essay on using fixed stars in navigation with an explanation of the movements of the seven planets (p. 140). Portions of many pages are torn out; these were likely blank scraps used for practice writing and math exercises.