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Busbey papers, 1838-1928 (majority within 1848-1903)

4.5 linear feet

The Busbey papers contain the personal and professional correspondence of William H. Busbey and many of his family members. Of note are letters to and from William and his brother during the Civil War; letters between William and his wife Mary after the war; and a letter from Ann Busbey, William's mother, which documents her 1894 trip west from Chicago, with vivid descriptions of the scenery in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.

The Busbey papers collect the personal and professional correspondence of William H. Busbey and several generations of his family. Included are 1,259 letters, 6 documents and receipts, 117 writings, 9 photographs, 134 newspaper clippings, and additional printed materials.

The earliest item in the Correspondence series is a letter from William's grandfather, Hamilton Busbey in Coles Country, Illinois, to his son Thomas (November 9, 1839). Included in the early letters are 33 items of schoolwork from the Busbey children in the late 1840-1850s, such as several essays, notes, and small decorated name tags. The collection also contains letters to and from William and his brother Hamilton during their service in the Civil War. The letters describe events at war, including the Battle at Stone River and watching gun boats patrolling the Tennessee River, as well as the brother's health and daily activities. Letters from Ohio report on deaths in the family back home and how the town and family are coping with the war. In one particularly poignant letter from a member of the Botkin's family, the author reports on local boys who have died and been discharged from the war, then writes:

"I have seen the tears trickle down the cheeks of old and young, while conversing on the subject of this unholy war. Secession, was their pet idol and it has ruined thousands, utterly bankrupt those who were wealthy, happy, and prosperous under the old flag. The new, has brought them nothing, but poverty and wretchedness -- well yes, I might say, it has brought swarms of Yankees, to bask in the salubrious rays of the glorious sun far down in the land of cotton..."

Approximately 70 letters were written by Mary (Molly) Busbey and William to each other, most of them in the months prior to their wedding in 1868. They wrote extensively about love and the health and welfare of their friends and family. Before their wedding, several letters were exchanged between Mary’s parents and William, regarding William's request for permission to marry their daughter. William's work as managing editor of the Inter Ocean is documented through letters to the editor and inter-office communication.

The Busbey family papers also collect letters to Mary from her family and friends, letters to their daughters Grace and Mabel, and letters to William from both his parents. Of note are three letters (23 pages) from Ann Busbey, William's mother, which document her 1894 trip west from Chicago, with vivid descriptions of the scenery in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Mary's mother, sisters, and friends wrote about 70 letters to Mary, with news about the family’s health and economic well-being.

The Documents and Receipts series contains 5 business receipts and a document related to estate of Ezra P. Jones of Ohio.

The Photographs series is composed of 8 photographs of various members of the Busbey family.

The Writings series is comprised of copies of William Busbey’s published works and rough drafts of articles, stories, and speeches from his career in the newspaper business. Topics include the newspaper business, the press and the Cuban question (1898), the Monroe Doctrine (1905), family and genealogy, and a biographical sketch of William H. Busbey.

The Printed Material series is composed of miscellaneous printed items such as poems, advertisements, invitations, programs, and other items. Of note is a list of members of the 1st Kentucky Infantry, Company C (of which Busbey was a Sergeant), and a fairwell card to Elwyn A. Barron of the Inter Ocean signed by other 23 employees.

The Newspaper Clippings series consists of 134 newspaper clippings, including several copies of the Inter Ocean's tribute to William's personal and professional achievements after his death. Miscellaneous items, such as ribbons, children's cards, and empty envelopes, conclude 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.


James Verity journal, 1861-1895 (majority within 1861-1864)

3 items

James Verity's journal is a post-Civil War transcript of his diary, probably completed within a few years of the end of the war. The journal covers his service in the 22nd and 18th Ohio Infantry Regiments. Verity pays particular attention to military aspects of the War and provides a detailed account of his wounding at the Battle of Chickamauga.

Verity's journal is a post-war transcript of his diary, probably completed within a few years of the end of the war. The introductory section of the journal covers his service in the 22nd Ohio, a three months' regiment, while it was stationed along the Ohio River and in western West Virginia. However it is his second tour of duty, with the 18th Ohio, that forms the core of the journal, and this part of the journal appears to be an accurate transcript of the diary that he kept in the field. Verity was an avid soldier, staunchly, unquestioningly pro-Union. Verity is not one to complain or to focus on the hardships of a soldier's life. Instead, his journal is an excellent, straightforward account of his service in the Union army, with particular attention to strictly military aspects.

The journal provides excellent accounts of several skirmishes and battles, most notably the attack at Huntsville and the Battle of Limestone Bridge, Ala., the three-day Battle of Murfreesboro and the skirmishes leading up to it, and the Chickamauga Campaign. The description of his wounding at the Battle of Chickamauga is uncommonly detailed and gruesome, and the account of his efforts to obtain medical assistance in a dazed state and unrecognizable condition is moving despite his calm prose.

Also included with the journal is an 1874 commission as Lieutenant in a militia company, and a flier for the fifth annual reunion (1895) of the veterans of Co. G of the 18th Ohio.


John Egan Rapp collection, 1862-1892

47 items

This collection is made up of a diary, 18 letters, 13 receipts, and other materials relating to John Egan Rapp during and after his service in Swett's Battery of the Mississippi Light Artillery. His diary spans just over year of his service in the Confederate Army and the bulk of the remainder of the collection pertains to his postwar life in Conyers and Atlanta, Georgia.

This John Egan Rapp collection is made up of a diary; 18 letters and a telegram; a group of receipts, a recipe, three newspaper clippings, two short lists of genealogical material, three empty envelopes, an advertising flyer, three blank voter oath forms; and a published history of the Battle of Chickamauga. These materials pertain to Rapp's life during and after his service in Swett's Battery of the Mississippi Light Artillery. His diary spans just over year of his service in the Confederate Army and the bulk of the remainder of the collection pertains to his postwar life in Conyers and Atlanta, Georgia.

Diary. John Egan Rapp kept his 96-page pocket diary between October 2, 1862, and November 23, 1863, during his service in Swett's Battery, Mississippi Light Artillery. He wrote in pencil, which has since become smudged and is at times so faded that it is difficult to read. At least one page of the diary has been torn out. Rapp routinely recorded where his unit camped each night, the number of miles they marched each day, rations issued, and enemy locations. He wrote some of his longest entries when his artillery unit was engaged in the battles of Murfreesboro (December 1862 and January 1863) and Chickamauga (September 19-25, 1863). He described harsh living conditions near Tazewell, Tennessee in October 1862, "we have had but half rations for the last week and tonight none is to be had." A week later, they camped in the woods near Knoxville in cold weather with no tents, with some men lacking shoes or adequate clothing. This contrasts with Christmas of 1862 when they were at College Grove, Tennessee, "General Liddell has prepared a barbecue for the Brigade--is expected to be a brilliant affair--number of ladies are expected and every preparations are made to receive them." Wet and weary after five days and nights "on the field" at the battle of Mufreesboro, he wrote, "our horses have not had anything to eat in thirty-six hours and have traveled 26 miles since midnight" (January 4, 1863). He mentioned seeing Gen. Joe E. Johnson reviewing the troops (December 10, 1862), and Jefferson Davis riding along the line (October 11, 1863). Although "elected" to become Lieutenant after the death of the serving officer, he wrote, "But declined." (October 11, 1863). On page 44 of the diary (December 22, 1863), Rapp wrote a farewell letter to one of his sisters (probably Elizabeth, Mrs. Thomas Postlewait) saying that if he died he hoped his diary would make its way to her, and that he owed the "onley few moments of happiness I ever new" to her. Much of the second half of the diary notebook consists of notes, addresses, accounts, etc. -- some refer to amts. of ammunition (Round Shot, Canister, Shell)--under the heading "List--Gun Napolean" are records of type of ammunition used, weight of ammo, distance in yards, and remarks about gun performance.

The collection's Correspondence (18 letters, a telegram, and three loose envelopes) spans April 13, 1864-October 30, 1891. John E. Rapp wrote four of the letters; his sister Elizabeth C. [Rapp] Postlewait (1833-1922) wrote two; his brother-in-law Thomas H. Postlewait (1826/28-1903) wrote two; his sister Emily [Rapp] Hair (1844-1915) wrote one; his cousin Dr. William E. Rapp (1819-1880) sent one; his cousin Enoch Thompson (1808-1898) wrote one; and P. K. Montgomery sent one. Most of the remaining letters are business related.

John E. Rapp wrote the two earliest letters in this collection during the Civil War. On April 13, 1864, he informed his wife that he was awaiting the arrival of his second "Certificate of Disability." About three weeks later, P. K. Montgomery advised Rapp how he could safely cross the Mississippi River at St. Joseph, Louisiana, despite Yankee gunboats, "Crossing is done in Canoes and mostly by Night. The horses have to Swim the River . . . The charges are pretty high as the Boats have to be kept some distance in the Country and hauled in when needed." (May 8, 1864). Dr. William E. Rapp's Reconstruction Era letters from Franklin Parish, Louisiana, described difficulties resulting from the disruption of mail and railroad service. "We have not mails here yet & consequently, scarcely ever get a letter except by the boats in the winter by way of New Orleans. No Rail Road in operation from here to Miss. River & no navigation now, so that we are cut off from the world." (Oct. 11, 1867). He also commented several times on the use of freedmen as a labor force, "We have been trying the planting with the Freed men, but not to any great success . . . Labour is much wanting in this country as not more than half of the Freedmen are of any account & none very valuable." (October 11, 1867). "I am striving as usual to make a fortune with free Negroes, which is rather a slow business . . . I am working, or feeding about 35 hands & their families & sometimes they pay for it, and sometimes they don't." (March 30, 1879).

A November 18, 1881, letter from Emily (Rapp) Hair in Ohio expressed her wish to make peace with her brother, John E. Rapp. She was unaware that he had a wife and family, so the brother and sister must have been out of touch since at least 1863, and it is possible that they quarreled over his decision to fight for the Confederacy. A single letter dated October 10, 1886, written by a railroad official, described a raid that John E. Rapp was ordered to make on thieves poaching fish from railroad property. "...two men who fished the pond every day or night during the past week & that these parties had taken over 500 fish, the most of them they had put in their own private pond for future use." Also of interest is a letter from Rapp's 83-year-old cousin Enoch Thompson, who claimed to have written the first accurate description of the creation of the Universe. "Moses wrote a run and jump darklantern description of the Creation of this world . . . This historic account of the structure of the Universe I have written for your perusal is, in all probability, the first Historic description of the Universe ever written by man in any age of the world and therefore may be considered something new under the Sun, and might serve as a relic in the future." (October 30, 1891).

The Documents, Receipts, Newspaper Clippings, and Other Manuscripts include 13 receipts, a recipe for "copaiba," two short lists of genealogical material, three undated newspaper clippings, one advertising flyer, and three blank Fulton County, Georgia, voter oath forms from 1891.

The receipts include four for quarterly tuition at The Gordon School in Atlanta, Georgia, for Rapp's son Fred in 1891, and one for tuition at the Atlanta Classical School in 1892. Also among the receipts is one dated May 8, 1876, acknowledging that Station House Keeper W. A. Bonnell received "the body of one Henry Redding, alias Wm. Christopher." On the back of the receipt is a penciled note, "$4.00 Guard House fee." This is a reference to a "colored" convict who escaped from the convict camp near Marietta, Georgia, with five other prisoners, March 23-24, 1876. Despite searching an 8-mile radius with dogs, the men made a clean escape, and a $25 reward was offered for each man. Redding was recaptured about six weeks later, and for a time was confined in the Station House mentioned in the receipt of May 8, 1876. As the May 5, 1876 issue of the Atlanta Constitution wryly put it, "Henry Redding, who has been sentenced to the penitentiary for lifetime and 20 years additional, is now a guest at the Hotel de Bonnell." Henry Redding's serious problems with the law began in 1869. He and two other "negroes" were convicted of arson for starting a fire in a jail where they had been detained, in an attempt to escape. They received a sentence of hard labor for life after being convicted of arson. While serving this sentence Redding escaped from a convict camp near Marietta, Georgia, in 1876 and was recaptured six weeks later. Eleven years later, in 1887, he applied to Governor Gordon to reduce his life sentence to 20 years. Based on an earlier court decision that "an attempt to burn a jail in order to effect an escape is not arson," and in consideration of the long term Redding had already served, the Governor ordered him "forthwith discharged from confinement" (The Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 6, 1887, p. 7).

The newspaper clippings include one entitled "The Gallant Charge" about Cheatham's Division at Franklin, Tennessee, one about a reunion of Confederate veterans, and the last an obituary for John E. Rapp's son Joseph W. Rapp

The collection includes a 16-page Confederate imprint entitled GREAT BATTLE OF CHICAMAUGA: A concise History of Events from the Evacuation of Chattanooga to the Defeat of the Enemy (Mobile, 1863) by S. C. Reid of the Mobile Tribune, with John E. Rapp's penciled annotation on the margin of page six correcting the account of Swett's Battery's part in the battle.


John Otto typescript, [ca. 1902]

646 pages

This typescript contains John Henry Otto's detailed recollections about his service in the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company D, during the Civil War.

This typescript (646 pages) contains John Henry Otto's detailed recollections about his service in the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment, Company D, during the Civil War. The narrative is divided into an introduction and 52 chapters, with outlines provided at the beginning of each chapter. Otto made two longhand copies of his reminiscences around 1902 and presented them to his sons August and George; Vincent R. R. Carboneau, Otto's grandson, created another longhand copy in early 1943. This typescript, completed by Carboneau's daughter, Phyllis McGrath, in 1977, is a typed version of Carboneau's manuscript, with original spelling, grammar, and punctuation intact.

The typescript, based on Otto's original war diaries, concerns the entirety of his Civil War service, from his initial enlistment in August 1862 to his final discharge in June 1865. An early chapter contains brief notes about his previous military experiences in the Prussian army, with which he served in wars against Denmark (1848) and Austria (1850-1851), and he occasionally referred to his wife and children in Wisconsin. He discussed Wisconsin residents' response to the war and the renewed call to arms in late 1862 and shared stories of his interactions with civilians and military personnel throughout his time in the South, including other German-American soldiers and both Union and Confederate sympathizers. Otto encountered runaway slaves and freedmen and occasionally referred to the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1864, he expressed his negative opinion of George McClellan and McClellan's nomination for the presidency.

Most of Otto's reminiscences concern his daily experiences, and some parts of the narrative are structured like a diary. Otto described camp life, winter quarters, drilling, equipment, and the areas he passed through and visited in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. In September and October 1864, he visited Wisconsin on furlough. The typescript includes his detailed recollections of the Tullahoma Campaign, the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman's March to the Sea, and the Carolinas Campaign; numerous skirmishes; and major engagements such as the Battle of Perryville, Battle of Stones River, Battle of Hoover's Gap, Battle of Chickamauga, Battle of Resaca, Battle of Kennesaw Mountain, Battle of Peachtree Creek, Siege of Atlanta, and the Battle of Averasboro. He recounted in-battle movements, the experience of coming under fire, and deaths. Otto witnessed a few executions, including that of at least one deserter, and wrote about the capture of Confederate prisoners and equipment. While in the Carolinas near the end of the war, he befriended a young mulatto boy, "Joe Hooker," who returned with him to Wisconsin in 1865. After the 21st Wisconsin Infantry Regiment participated in the Grand Review of the Armies in May 1865, Otto remained in Washington, D.C., where he did some sightseeing. The final pages of the typescript include a copy of Sherman's farewell address to the army.


John Pierson papers, 1862-1865

113 items

John Pierson, from Pontiac, Michigan, accepted a commission in the 10th Michigan Infantry during the Civil War. His letters home record the experiences of an observant officer during his two years of duty in the Union occupation army in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and later, as he is stationed at Fort Harrison the north bank of the James River in Virginia.

Capt. (later Lt.Col.) John Pierson's letters record the experiences of an observant officer during his two years of duty in the Union occupation army in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and later, as he is stationed at Fort Harrison the north bank of the James River in Virginia. There are nine letters written while Pierson was in the 109th U.S. Colored Infantry and two after his military service had expired, otherwise the remainder of the collection consists of letters from Pierson to his wife, Joanna, and daughter, Emma, written while a Captain in the 10th Michigan Infantry.

Cynical, yet patriotic, Pierson writes superb descriptions of Southern towns and cities, and provides detailed information on the military engagements at Corinth, Murfreesboro, Chattanooga, Dalton, Ga. (February 28th, 1864), and elsewhere. Pierson's letters also contain excellent commentary on army hospital facilities and personnel during the periods after battles when they are flooded with casualties.

Other experiences of interest in the Pierson papers are letters describing his management of a Mississippi plantation after its owner murdered a man in H Company; a tour of the Hermitage guided by Andrew Jackson Donelson, and the Confederate burning of a mail train near Chattanooga. Also noteworthy are two letters from Pierson's daughter, Emma, while visiting her father in Nashville in May, 1863. Emma was aghast that so many churches had been turned into hospitals.


Lewis Dalton papers, 1856-1904 (majority within 1862-1863)

19 items

This collection contains 19 items, most of which are letters from Lewis Dalton, who volunteered for the 8th Kentucky Infantry (Union), to his wife Phoebe, from 1862 until he died in 1863. In particular, Dalton described his regiment’s march across the Cumberland Mountains, where they routed rebels from MacMinnville and Pikesville, and the start of the Battle at Stone River.

This collection contains 19 items, most of which are letters from Lewis Dalton to his wife Phoebe, from 1862 until he died in 1863. Dalton wrote from camps in Lebanon, Kentucky (January-February 1862); Wartrace, Tennessee (May-June 1862); east of Nashville, Tennessee (November 1862); and Murfreesboro, Tennessee (April-May, 1863). He described sickness in his regiment and his own health issues; preparations for engagements with the enemy, including marching, drills, and picket duty; and spending money on food or going for days with little to eat. In June of 1862, Dalton described his regiment’s march across the Cumberland Mountains, where they routed rebels from MacMinnville and Pikesville. At this time, he expected the war to last no more than 4 or 5 more months. In a fragment of a letter, likely from early 1863, Dalton described the start of the Battle at Stone River or Murfreesboro. In April and May 1863, Dalton was sick and was excused from duty, and spent time in both a field hospital and a convalescence camp. In many of the letters, he discussed sending Phoebe money and pled with her to write more often. He often asked her if his friends from Kentucky were enlisting.

In 1863, Phoebe received a letter from Lewis's mother, Rebecca Dalton, who lived in Virginia; she had just heard that her son was married and hoped to see both of them. In 1889, Phoebe received a letter from George E. Lemon, a Washington lawyer, who requested an affidavit concerning Lewis Dalton's death. The final letter in the collection, dated 1903, is from Phoebe to the Department of the Interior, asking for an increase in pension pay.

The earliest letter is from Solomon Sparks (likely a close relative of Phoebe) to his family in Carter County, Kentucky, 1856. He discussed family illness, the birth of a son, and was considering moving to Illinois.


R. Mortimer Buck Papers, 1850-1909, and undated

.5 cubic feet (in 1 box)

The papers consists of business, personal, and biographical materials, and Buck's Civil War diaries.

The collection includes biographical, business, and personal materials. His diaries describe his Civil War experiences describe his march from Detroit to the Battle of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, camp life, equipment, cavalry pickets, and fighting at Chattanooga and Trenton, Tennessee, among other places. The 1855 diary is of a trip from Illinois to Nevada. Bookkeeping journals, receipts, and indentures relate to the sale of merchandise in Paw Paw. The Ida Oil Well Co. Treasury book is from Kent County, Ontario, Canada.

A photograph of Buck in uniform may be found in the Clarke Photograph file and two shoulder straps of the rank of Captain and one cap badge should be in the Display Items boxes.


Thomas D. Willis typescript, 1862-1865

2 volumes

This collection is made up of typescripts of letters that Thomas D. Willis wrote to his family while serving in the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War. The letters concern his imprisonment after the regiment's unsuccessful mutiny in early 1863, his hospitalization in late 1864, and daily conditions in army camps in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

This collection is primarily made up of typescripts of letters that Thomas D. Willis wrote to his parents and siblings while serving in the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiment between August 1862 and June 1865. The Willis family also received a small number of letters from John McKee and Walter G. Wilson, also of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, and a family friend who encountered Willis during his hospitalization in late 1864.

Thomas D. Willis sent letters to his parents and two of his siblings, Julia and Seth, throughout his Civil War service, writing less frequently as the war went on. From late August 1862 to early April 1863, he discussed his pride in the regiment, his close friendships with a group of other soldiers, and life in camps in Carlisle, Pennsylvania; Louisville, Kentucky; and Nashville, Tennessee. He described his daily schedule, meals, equipment, and marches, where he noticed the effects of the war and the graves of soldiers who had died along the road. After arriving in Nashville in November 1862, the regiment became involved in a controversy over their expected and assigned duties. Willis reported that he and others had enlisted to serve as bodyguards for General Don Carlos Buell; upon learning that they were to become a regular cavalry regiment following Buell's removal, the members of the regiment laid down their arms and refused to serve, believing that they had been enlisted under false pretenses. In the absence of obvious ringleaders, Willis and several other men were randomly chosen as representatives at a court martial. Willis described the poor conditions during his imprisonment and expressed his growing discontent with Captain William Jackson Palmer and other military leaders, whom he accused of acting as despots.

After his release from prison in early April 1863, Willis returned to the front, where he continued to describe camp life in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. He mentioned several skirmishes and at least one major engagement with Confederate troops. He noted that the civilian population, including both Union and Confederate sympathizers, had suffered because of the war. His letters also refer to health problems, often related to dysentery, and he was hospitalized with a large open sore on his hip in late 1864. Willis described his treatment in hospitals in Nashville, Tennessee, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and discussed his appointment as a wardmaster for a branch hospital. Willis wrote infrequently between late 1864 and the spring of 1865, when he anticipated his return home. Along with the Willis family's incoming correspondence, the collection includes typescripts of 2 letters that Willis's mother wrote in August 1864; she discussed life at home, Copperhead politicians, and the presidential election of 1864.

The materials were transcribed by Scott Willis, a descendant of Thomas D. Willis, around 1978.