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Calvin A. and Albert H. Irish diaries, 1865-1866, 1885

2 volumes

The Calvin A. and Albert H. Irish diaries consist of 2 volumes. Calvin A. Irish kept a diary from January 1865, during the end of his service in the Union Army, until May 1866. His son, Albert H. Irish, also wrote a diary in 1885.

For his diary, Calvin used a printed almanac entitled Vermont Directory and Commercial Almanac for 1865. The entries are mostly short and detail his daily activities and experiences, including the distance he marched, the weather, letters that he sent or received, and work that he accomplished. The small volume was also Calvin's financial ledger.

Calvin's son Albert also wrote daily records in an almanac entitled The American Diary 1885. The first 2 manuscript pages are comprised of a few verses and adages. Albert's entries are short and include information about the weather, school, chores, odd jobs, and visits of his friends and neighbors. The almanac also contains a short cash-management ledger and brief descriptions of the Irish family's cows.


Charles M. Byington diary, 1863

1 volume

The Charles M. Byington diary records the Civil War service of the quartermaster-sergeant of the 110th New York Infantry, including the battles of Fort Bisland and Port Hudson.

The Charles M. Byington diary contains approximately 95 pages of daily entries, covering January 1-July 19, 1863, and 5 pages of records documenting financial transactions. The earliest diary entries are quite brief and record daily activities, duties, and movements. Byington frequently noted that he had distributed equipment, made invoices, foraged for food to feed the soldiers, and drawn rations in his role as quarter-master sergeant. On January 4, 1863, he mentioned a soldier who had given religious instruction to an African American Regiment; in other entries he discussed the activities of his company's colonel, DeWitt Clinton Littlejohn, and those of several of his friends.

Byington wrote longer, more detailed entries beginning in March, when his regiment camped near Baton Rouge and he noted the frequent firing by gunboats there. On March 15, 1863, he gave a firsthand account of an engagement near Port Hudson, in which the USS Mississippi lost its rudder and exploded. In mid-April, he wrote about the Battle of Fort Bisland, including nearly getting hit by shells and seeing white flags hung outside of "most every house," reportedly by Confederate women frightened of the Yankees (April 19, 1863). In June, he described frequent foraging, his health problems, and the Battle of Port Hudson, in which several men he knew were wounded and killed (June 14, 1863). He also recounted a surprising assault by Confederate cavalry, which he and several officers fled by boarding a ship that was "peppered by bullets" (July 2, 1863). On July 18, 1863, he mentioned a visit to the decimated Port Hudson (July 14, 1863: "The buildings inside were literally torn to pieces"). The diary ends with a search for a coffin for "one of our boys" and a church visit on July 19, 1863.


Charles Snyder papers, 1857-1866

0.5 linear feet

The Charles Snyder papers contain correspondence between Snyder, a soldier in the 50th New York Engineers, his future wife, and other family members, concerning soldiers' duties and attitudes, religious activities, and other topics.

The Charles Snyder papers contain 182 letters to and from Snyder, 1857-1866, and one carte-de-visite photograph of him in uniform. Charles wrote 67 letters; his future wife, Hannah Wright, wrote 77; his sister Lizzie wrote 10; and his brother Steve wrote 8. Miscellaneous friends and family contributed an additional 20 letters.

The 14 letters predating Snyder's enlistment concern his teaching career, study at the University of Albany, religious activities, and family news from several of his sisters. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Snyder commented regularly on the conflict; he stated that the "strongest moral power" would be needed by soldiers in order to resist the temptations of camp life (September 17, 1861) and described a visit to the barracks of his brother William, a soldier in the 97th New York Infantry (January 25, 1861).

Between Snyder's enlistment in August 1862 and the end of the war, almost all of the correspondence is between Charles Snyder and his future wife, Hannah ("Nannie") Wright. In his letters, Snyder gave his frank opinions of various aspects of the war, often influenced by his strong religious convictions. Snyder initially felt that a recruiter had deceived him about the character of the regiment he had joined, particularly objecting to the men's swearing and drinking, and in several early letters, expressed his disillusionment with their behavior, as well as with the Union's mounting defeats. In other letters, he described his duties with the 50th Engineers, including building and destroying roads and bridges, constructing rafts, unloading trains, clearing brush, filling ditches, and moving boats, but wrote "that our country is receiving the full benefit of our sacrifices is not so clear to me" (November 27, 1862).

Snyder's letters provide many rich details of his experiences, such as the taunting by Confederates wielding a sign reading "Burnside stuck in the mud" (January 25, 1863), the universal dislike of the strict pass system instituted by the army (August 30, 1863), and the eating of a Thanksgiving turkey that he and his friends named "Jeff Davis" (November 28, 1863). On several occasions, he wrote to Hannah regarding the morale of the Army of the Potomac, discussing their "unabated" confidence in General Joseph Hooker (May 7, 1863) and stating that they did not consider Chancellorsville a total defeat, especially with the death of Stonewall Jackson, which he considered "equivalent to the loss of many thousand men" (May 20, 1863). Many of Snyder's 1865 letters relate to his promotion to first lieutenant and his desire to return home to Hannah, whom he intended to marry.

In her letters, Hannah Wright discussed religious activities (including involvement with the Tract Society), teaching, and family news, and she also expressed concern and affection for Charles. Later correspondence indicated her increasing involvement in the Union cause, including going to meetings of the U.S. Sanitary Commission (December 21, 1864), and knitting for soldiers. Wright shared Snyder's religious devotion and strict moral code. She reacted strongly to his news that Mary Todd Lincoln had worn makeup to a reception held for soldiers by President Lincoln, writing "It is a sad pity Mrs. Lincoln isn't a true woman" and calling it a "sin" (February 19, 1864). Letters from Snyder's brother Steve and sister Lizzie are primarily personal, regarding health, social visits, and news about other enlisted friends and neighbors.


Coleman-Stuart family papers, 1848 July 9-1898 July 17

29 items

During the mid-19th century, A. A. Coleman was a judge and well-respected planter in the black belt of west-central Alabama. W. S. Stuart, possibly a son-in-law to Coleman, was a physician, planter, and slave holder living in Monticello, Miss., southeast of Vicksburg. After the Civil War, both he and Coleman returned to farming, and Coleman may have engaged in a mercantile partnership. The Coleman-Stuart Papers consists of twenty-nine items, mostly bits of correspondence and other manuscripts of A.A. Coleman and W.S. Stuart.

The Coleman-Stuart Papers consists of twenty-nine items, mostly bits of correspondence and other manuscripts of A.A. Coleman and W.S. Stuart. The public addresses in the collection, probably written by Coleman, reflect the local prominence of the speaker, as does his Colonel's commission in the 40th Alabama Infantry.

The items in the collection span half a century, and although there is little continuity in the correspondence, many individual items are of interest. Stuart discusses crop values, arrangements for selling slaves, and the Locofocos (#2), and in the post-war period, he discusses the difficulties of adjusting to free labor in Louisiana (#23). Coleman's correspondence includes a letter written by Eli Shorter, brother of the Alabama governor, discussing state politics in 1861 (#11) and another letter asking Coleman to discharge a young soldier (#12). A letter written by E. Simpson provides a lengthy and imaginative attack on the "Black Republicans" (#7), and there are important resolutions of support for the Nashville Convention favoring the extension of slavery into the territories (#6) and what appears to be a Democratic Party address lambasting abolitionism, while supporting the Union (#8).


Cornelius Hulsapple papers, 1865

3 letters

Cornelius Hulsapple entered the Paoli Guards in October, 1864, as a two-year draft substitute for W. R. Ridgway. Only three letters of Cornelius Hulsapple's survive, two of which are addressed to the man for whom he was substituting, W.R. Ridgway.

Only three letters of Cornelius Hulsapple's survive, two of which are addressed to the man for whom he was substituting, W.R. Ridgway. Each of the letters provides detailed information of Hulsapple's activities.

Hulsapple's writing is typified in a passage written in March 1865. In the passage Hulsapple describes seeing a large number of deserters from Lee's Army and a flood of liberated, nearly debilitated Union prisoners marching north: "they are a sad site to look on some of them have the toes frsen [sic] off of their feet some of them without hat or coat and they say that they are diing in droves every day some of them are that starved that they would catch rats and mice and eat them and they would even kill dogs if they could catch them and eat them raw."


Curtis family papers, 1850-1883

58 items

The Curtis family papers are comprised of 58 letters written between Maine ship's captain Joseph Russell Curtis and his wife, Louisa. The letters map out the confines of a close relationship, maintained despite the lengthy periods of great separation.

The Curtis family papers are comprised of 58 letters written between Maine ship's captain, Joseph Russell Curtis and his wife, Louisa. The letters map out the confines of a close relationship, maintained despite the lengthy periods of great separation. Louisa uses phonetic spelling, and her letters reveal the hardships she encountered through separation. Joseph's letters are more concerned with matters in Maine than they are with describing the many ports of call he visited.


Eaton-Shirley family papers, 1790-1939 (majority within 1850-1906)

1,903 items (5 linear feet)

The Eaton-Shirley family papers consist of personal diaries, correspondence, military papers, legal and business documents, printed materials, and photographs. A primary figure in the collection, John Eaton, Jr., was Civil War Superintendent of the Freedmen and later Commissioner of Education under Grant. The papers also contains substantial material from other Eaton family members, including military papers and correspondence of his brother, Lucien B. Eaton, and papers of the Shirley family (the family of John Eaton, Jr.’s wife, Alice E. Shirley).

The Eaton papers consist of 1,903 items, dating from September 1790 to July 30, 1939. The bulk of the collection falls between 1850 and 1906. The papers contain 318 letters, 9 diaries/journals, 60 personal documents of John Eaton Jr., 275 legal documents and business papers, 112 military documents, 923 photographs, 84 printed items, and 122 miscellaneous items.

The majority of the correspondence is personal and relates to family matters. The 168 letters of John Eaton, Jr., contain extensive biographical information. Of particular interest are 44 Civil War-era letters including information about the freedmen, three letters pertaining to the publication of The Post, and two with content regarding the Ku Klux Klan. The collection also contains 22 letters to and from Alice (Shirley) Eaton, 31 letters to and from Lucien Eaton, and 32 miscellaneous letters from members of the Eaton family. Of the 30 letters written by Alice Eaton's parents (James and Adelaine Shirley), 10 letters regard compensation for the damage done to the Shirley House during the Civil War. Various other members of the Shirley family wrote 15 letters, and 20 letters are from other people unrelated to the Eaton and Shirley families.

John Eaton Jr.’s aunt, Ruth Dodge Eaton, wrote two diaries which consist almost entirely of Christian hymns and essays. John Eaton Jr.'s uncle, Horace Eaton, wrote one diary that contains Christian material written while he attended Dartmouth College. John Eaton, Jr., wrote two diaries, one of which he wrote as a youth, and the other as a student at Dartmouth. Other journals include two by John Eaton Jr.'s brothers, Frederick and Charles, and a household account book, kept by his sister Christina. Of particular importance is Alice Shirley’s diary, in which she described pre-civil war tensions between the north and the south, speculation on the upcoming Siege of Vicksburg, the early stages of the Siege of Vicksburg, and very personal feelings regarding her marriage to John Eaton, Jr.

The 60 personal papers of John Eaton Jr. include 17 documents regarding his appointments and titles, two documents about freedmen, and 41 miscellaneous address cards and invitations (including an invitation to the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge).

Of the 275 legal papers, 74 documents pertain to the sale of land in Mississippi; 7 concern Robert M. Jones’s claim to Choctaw Nation lands; and 25 relate to estate papers, deeds of trust and documents about the proceedings of Adelaine Shirley’s post-war relief claims; and a receipt for the sale of an African American woman. The remaining 176 legal papers are miscellaneous financial documents, such as tax documents, checks, and receipts.

Of the 112 military documents, 58 pertain to John Eaton, Jr., 7 of which are about freedmen. The military documents of Lucien B. Eaton number 54.

The 923 photographs consist of six photo albums, 31 cased daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, 144 cabinet cards, and 421 loose photographs and snapshots all depicting members of the Eaton and Shirley families, scenic locations, and the Shirley House.

Of the 84 printed items in the collection, 49 newspaper clippings pertain to the occupational and personal activities of John Eaton, Jr., and 9 miscellaneous clippings relate to the Eaton family. The remaining 26 items are published pamphlets, including addresses and reports concerning John Eaton, Jr.; a sermon written by Horace Eaton; a report of proceedings of an Ohio Brigade reunion; an Anti-Slavery Almanac from 1838; and an incomplete piece describing the history and restoration of the Shirley House.

The 122 miscellaneous papers of the John Eaton, Jr., collection consist of 53 recipes and 69 miscellaneous items including a partial autobiography of Alice Eaton.


Edwin F. Belden friendship album, 1851-1866, 1886

1 volume

The Edwin F. Belden friendship album contains autographs (sometimes accompanied by poems or other inscriptions), newspaper clippings, and biographical notes by and related to New York politicians, Civil War soldiers, and other individuals. Photographs are also included.

The Edwin F. Belden friendship album (25cm x 18cm, 141 pages) contains autographs (sometimes accompanied by poems or other inscriptions), newspaper clippings, and biographical notes by and related to New York politicians, Civil War soldiers, and other individuals. Included are 112 salted paper and 3 albumen photographic portraits. The album has a hard cover with Belden's name and a decorative border stamped in gold on the front. Plates on the inside of the front and back covers feature a patriotic eagle and banner with the slogan "The Federal Union it must be preserved" and of a building used as "Republican Head Quarters" in 1860.

The first 37 pages contain signatures from members of the New York State Assembly, where Belden was a messenger in the early 1850s. Some politicians accompanied their signatures with brief personal message for Belden, often including well wishes and advice. Many signers recorded the name of the district they represented, and most dated their contributions April 16, and 17, 1851. This section of the album is followed by other autographs that Belden solicited in the mid-1850s, as well as an endorsement from his employers Lemuel Jenkins and C. Ten Broeck (November 22, 1852, p. 41).

The remaining contents, dated 1860-1866, are comprised of small photographic portraits, brief biographical notes, inscriptions, autographs, and newspaper clippings related to a variety of individuals, including many men who served in the Civil War. One page of individual full-length portraits represents members of the Albany Zouave Cadets with military equipment and musical instruments. Belden labeled most of the photographs and often included notes about the subjects' dates of death. Several entries include copied correspondence, inscriptions and autographs, and obituaries or other news articles. Contributors included former New York Governors Washington Hunt and John A. King; General William Tecumseh Sherman; and Samuel Streeter, a former delegate representing Albany at The Colored Men's Convention of 1840 (also pictured, October 30, 1860, p. 63). A letter from William F. Russell, a former member of the state legislature, is laid into the volume after the autographs (April 19, 1886).


Eliza O. Perkins Burke papers, 1846-1867

60 items

Eliza O. Perkins Burke's letters and papers document the life of a military officer's wife before and during the Civil War, and her friendships with fellow military wives.

Most of these letters are addressed to Eliza Perkins Burke, excepting a handful written to Mary, an invitation to Capt. Perkins to play billiards, and a certificate of merit presented to Edward while he was at St. Louis University. This is a scattered, spotty correspondence, but there are a couple cohering elements. Many of the women writing to Eliza were also married to military men. They had become friends on Sullivan's Island, while their husbands, many of whom were in the 3rd Artillery, were stationed at Fort Moultrie in the 1830s and early 1840s. The Civil War is another theme around which several of these letters cluster, although only one letter is from an actual soldier. The other coherent grouping is a series of six letters from Rosalie Smith, who was trying to obtain a divorce and chafing under the necessity of depending on her sister's husband for financial support.

The letters from fellow military wives show how close the women had become while together on the island, and there is a sense, especially during and after the Civil War, that these friendships were doubly valuable because they reminded the women of better times. Many of the wives did not see each other again after leaving Fort Moultrie, or only enjoyed infrequent visits. Although they only wrote to each other occasionally, they expressed great nostalgia for the time shared on Sullivan's Island. Often a milestone -- birth, death, or wedding -- prompted the letter, and the author often described her children's progress.

Judith Chiffelle, who had probably been on Sullivan's Island with her brother Thomas, was an anomaly. While the rest of the women were married to military men, Judith was single. She taught school in Baltimore and was raising her dead sister's children while their father ran his business in St. Louis. She wrote, "this I know will astonish you. I like to be an independent old maid, I will never marry. I have taken an oath to live single for my dear childrens' sake" (1854 December 17). Two years later her tone is less triumphant: "what a change a few years make in our life -- I struggling along trying to make a living hard work & keeping school " (1857 February 2). She admits that she would "long ago have laid down this weary head" had it not been for the children.

The Civil War era letters include one from Caroline Carson, a southern woman who suffered multiple hardships. Her husband died, "the plantation was sold according to his directions," and then her father's house, where she had stored her possessions, was burned: "Everything I had in the world was burnt up -- Books and pictures, china, glass linen all my little effects which I valued, and hoped someday to get around me again" (1862 February 4). "I hope in this horrid war no thing of the kind will happen to you," she continued. Another letter, from a northern lady, shows the less direct effect the war had on women who were not in the midst of the fighting. Rather than wondering where to live, Annie Eustace pondered what to wear: "in this time of our country's great troubles, we should think of something else, beside dress and party giving . . . I spend very little time and thought about fine dress, and making a show; I have lost all taste for such things (1862 May 6). There is also one letter from Eliza's soldiering nephew David P. Hancock while he was at Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York, recovering from a wound and anxious to get back to the field (1862 May 12).

The other clutch of letters is certainly the most intriguing one. Rosalie Smith was living, along with her mother, at her sister Ann Eustace's house in Dixon, Illinois. Rosalie bridled at having to depend on Judge Eustace, whose wealth had been severely reduced by the depression of 1857, but she saw no alternative until her brother Joe returned from Mexico with funds. In response to Eliza's suggestion that she get married, Rosalie wrote, rather obliquely, "this would be a long story and probably uninteresting on paper, but should I ever see you, I will give you some of my reasons for remaining in 'meditation free'" (1859 November 30). By the next year, Rosalie's reasons for resisting her reliance on her brother-in-law had increased: "Judge Eustace's relatives have always annoyed me by reports of our entire dependence on him, making things at times, very disagreeable to all" (1860 October 27). This letter also alludes to a Mr. Sheridan, who was apparently Rosalie's husband, whom she now wished to divorce. She was worried that he would "use every effort to annoy, and keep me bound; money only, will be the great lever by which it can be accomplished." She moved to Chicago with her sister's family, and she happily discovered that "a residence of two years, will grant me a divorce, provided Sheridan does not make application to live with or support me; so on this account too, I am anxious to keep quiet, that he may not know where I am, to molest me" (1860 December 3).


Francis Crayton Sturtevant papers, 1861-1913 (majority within 1861-1890)

70 items

The Sturtevant papers are made up of letters written by Francis Crayton Sturtevant, a musician in the 5th Connecticut Infantry Regiment, to his family during and following the Civil War. The collection also includes Francis' incoming correspondence after the war.

The Sturtevant papers contain 29 Civil War-date letters written by Francis Crayton Sturtevant to his mother (Mrs. C.F. Sturtevant), his sisters Ann or Eveline, or generally to his family. The collection also contains 9 post-war letters written to Hattie Ellis, Crayton's fiancé/wife; 5 letters from Hattie to Crayton; 8 letters from members of the Sturtevant family to Crayton; and 10 miscellaneous items relating to Sturtevant's sons, Harry, Albert, and Francis.

The Civil War letters reflect Sturtevant's perceptiveness and talent as a writer, as well as his strong ideological commitment to the war. Although his reasons for enlistment are somewhat obscure and his early departure from the war stands out, Sturtevant never displayed any doubt that his service was his patriotic duty. His letters are valuable for reconstructing life in the defenses of Harpers' Ferry in the fall and winter months of 1861-62, as well as the events of the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862. His letters are of added value in being written from the unusual perspective of a musician, and are filled with depictions of the lives of musicians, who were not always subject to the same level of hardship or the same rigors of average soldiers. Sturtevant's letters provide several descriptions of practicing, playing, working on musical formations, and competing with other bands, and they also give an idea of the effect that the music had on his audience of soldiers and civilians.

Sturtevant was also a soldier, and his letters contain fine descriptions of hard marches and battles, particularly leading up and during the Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1862. The accounts of Jackson's assault on Hancock, and of the battles of Kernstown and Winchester stand out as among the best letters in the collection.

The post-war material includes an eloquent letter addressed to Sturtevant's future mother-in-law, in which he defends his impending marriage to Hattie against his in-laws' opposition. Sturtevant argued that there can be no loss to Hattie or her family by the union, but only gain due to the genuineness of their love for each other. Also included is a powerful letter, grieving over the loss of his mother, who had died in his arms (1874 September 22).