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Emerson family papers, 1851-1881

102 items

The Emerson family papers contain letters from a Massachusetts family with relatives in Maine, Connecticut, and Wisconsin. Two sons, Horace and Irving Emery, fought for the Union Army. The letters describe life on the home front and the battlefield during the Civil War, labor on the railroads in Wisconsin, and the life of a music teacher in Maine.

The Emerson family papers consist of 98 letters and 4 printed materials. The bulk of the letters are from Horace; his earliest letters are from Bridgton, Maine, in 1851-1852, and from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, in 1856. He wrote to his mother, Sister Maria, and brother Irving (Irvey) about his life in the West, his health, hunting bear and deer, killing cats that kept him up all night, and of leaning the engineering trade. He also requested that his wedding announcement be placed in most of the Boston papers.

Horace often used expressive language when describing his surroundings and his acquaintances. In a letter from April 15, 1858, he described Milwaukee as "the worst place I was ever in[...]Gambling is called an honorable business." Of a female friend back east he remarked, "she would comb my hair with a 3 leg stool if she could get a chance." He wrote to Irving about the railroad running between Milwaukee and Portage City: "Monday we killed 2 hogs and one cow...I wish you could have seen the cow. When we hit her it took her right up 10 feet and set her on her ass in a mud hole" (May 5, 1858). In 1861, Horace wrote a few letters from Bridgton, Maine, where his father, re-married with two children, was making shingles for a living. By April, he was beck in Wisconsin, and enlisted in the Portage City Light Guard (Second Regiment Wisconsin State Volunteers, Co. C. He described the daily routine training at Camp Randall in Madison, Wisconsin, and noted to his musical brother that they had 3 fiddles, one flute, a guitar, bones, boxing gloves and dum bells "for the mussle." When his regiment got to Washington, he called on "old Abe" at the White House and had a brief meeting and drink with him. His letter of July 26, 1861, recounts his part in the Battle of Bull Run, fighting with other "tough cusses of Wisconsin." Horace spoke often of bravery and described the enjoyable aspects of being a solder, and, like many Union soldiers in the first years of the war, thought highly of "the good General McClellan" (March 12, 1862). By January 31, 1863, however, Horace was disillusioned with the war. He wanted to leave the army and was hostile to the idea of fighting to free blacks from slavery. By July 1863, Horace was back in Wisconsin and considered enlisting in the Minnesota militia to fight the Indians: "I will go to fight Indians any time but to fight the Rebs, please excuse me." After 1863, his letters concern his work as an engineer for the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and are about family life in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a new wife Emma and sons Irving and Horace Edwin.

In 1862, Horace's brother Irving received a number of letters from his mother, who lived in Roxbury, Massachusetts, and a few from his sister Maria. These concern family affairs and the state of the household, while her sons were at war. Irving Emerson's earliest letter is from April 3, 1863, when he writes from Camp Rogers to his mother and his sister Maria. By 1865, Irving was living in Belfast, [Maine], and was trying to earn his livelihood as a musician. Other family letters include an 1859 letter from Seth Webb to his grandchildren (Maria, Horace and Irving) and an 1864 letter from Amelia's brother Seth Webb, Jr.

Many of the letterheads, such as those dated May 27th, July 26, September 15, and October 6, 1861, have red, white, and blue images of a soldier with an American Flag. A letter from July 4, 1861, contains a large image of the Capitol.

In addition to the letters are four printed items: a monthly report of the Hartford Public High School, with the names of teachers and pupils, including Emma C. Tuttle (1875); and programs for Hartford Public Schools Fourth Musical Festival (1879), the Emerson Chorus concert on November 11, 1879, and the Collinsville Choral Union (1881), all conducted by Irving Emerson.


Hacker Brothers papers, 1861-1988 (majority within 1861-1880)

0.75 linear feet

This collection consists primarily of letters that Rohloff and Philip Hacker wrote to their parents and siblings while serving in the 2nd and 5th Michigan Infantry Regiments during the Civil War. Also included are two of Rohloff Hacker's diaries, letters by additional Michigan soldiers and a female aid worker, and letters that William Hacker received from his brother Karl in Neustrelitz, Germany, from 1877-1880.

This collection consists of letters that Rohloff and Philip Hacker wrote while serving in the 2nd and 5th Michigan Infantry Regiments during the Civil War. The collection also includes two of Rohloff Hacker's diaries, letters by additional Michigan soldiers and a female aid worker, and letters that William Hacker received from his brother Karl in Neustrelitz, Germany, from 1877-1880.

Among the most valuable letters in the collection are Rohloff's written during the summer of 1861. These provide an excellent sense of life in the camps defending Washington, going beyond descriptions of the routine of camp life to discussions of morale, officers, and the preparedness of soldiers on both sides. Rohloff describes the equipment and uniforms issued to his Regiment -- late and in poor condition -- in great detail, and their involvement in skirmishes and in the 1st Battle of Bull Run. He displayed an unusual zeal in soldiering, remarking that he did not hesitate in firing at Confederate soldiers, even the first time, and making a number of caustic remarks about Confederate soldiers. The amusing rivalry he and Philip carried on through their correspondence with home over their regiments and relations with friends and women decreased after the First Battle of Bull Run, and seems to have ended altogether after the Peninsular Campaign, when both their moods turned darker and more serious. The brothers both wrote informative letters during the Peninsular Campaign, particularly during the siege of Yorktown, the Battle of Williamsburg, and the Seven Days' Battles. The letters describing the Battle of Fredericksburg are also absorbing, particularly Philip's account of his own wounding. Somehow, through their experiences, which included a number of disastrous defeats at the hand of the enemy, both brothers unwaveringly maintained their faith in their country and their religion.

Rohloff and Philip wrote clearly and succinctly, and both were sensitive to the larger issues of the conflict and to the effect of war on the participants and civilians. Both commented occasionally on strategy and the leadership of the Union Army. Philip's letters are somewhat more polished than Rohloff's. The majority of the brothers' letters were written to family members, with most addressed to their father and mother, William and Barbara Woll Hacker, their younger siblings, Serena and Theodore, or their sister and brother-in-law Augusta and Alpheus Macomber in various combinations. Rohloff also wrote more than 30 letters to his former employers, E.F. Albright and C. Thomson, or Mrs. Albright.

The collection contains letters of several other Michigan soldiers, most of who served with the Hackers, or were friends of the Hacker family from Brighton. Among these are four letters from Peter Smith (Co. G, 2nd Michigan), reminiscing about his friendship with Rohloff and describing visits to his grave; five from Newton J. Kirk (Co. E, 26th Michigan Infantry); four from Capt. John C. Boughton (Co. G, 2nd Michigan), two letters of Edward R. Bliss (4th Michigan Infantry), and six letters written in February and March, 1863, by W. H. Pratt, a Sergeant in the hospital in which Philip Hacker was dying (probably William H. Pratt, Co. E, 26th Michigan Infantry). Another group of additional correspondence consists of 16 letters that Julia Susan Wheelock wrote about her work for the Michigan Soldiers' Relief Association in Washington, D.C., and northern Virginia between 1863 and 1866. Wheelock is also mentioned in several of the soldier's letters. In 1870, Wheelock published a memoir of her war-time experiences, The Boys in White; the Experience of a Hospital Agent in and around Washington.

The collection also contains a group of 5 letters that Karl Hacker wrote to William Hacker, his brother, from Neustrelitz, Germany, between September 16, 1877, and February 12, 1880. The letters are written in German schrift. Hacker's correspondence concerns local news and events, including several festivals; changes in Neustrelitz and Germany since William left for the United States; and his work as a construction supervisor. He provided updates about his health, and also discussed news of family members and friends in the United States and Germany.

The collection also contains The Congregational Psalmist: A Collection of Psalm Tunes, three soldier's bibles, two belonging Rohloff C. Hacker and one from Alexander Reuben that also has Philip W. Hacker's name in it, a leather wallet with Philip Hacker and William A. Ferguson's name on it, and a sewn cloth case. Miscellaneous items such as newspaper clippings, stamps, hunting licenses, currency, 4 photographs, and photographic negatives are also included. A small selection of 20th century family correspondence about the Hacker brothers supplement the collection.


Nathan B. Webb journals, 1862-1864

1,165 pages (5 volumes)

The diaries of Nathan Webb include vivid descriptions of life in one of the most active Union cavalry regiments, the 1st Maine, during the Civil War. Webb's thoughtfulness, candor, and his insight into the minds of soldiers and civilians make his diary a rich resource for the study of the social and military history of the Civil War.

The strengths of Webb's diaries are his ability as a writer and his willingness to describe important incidents at great length. His descriptions range widely in content, but are always thoughtful, and he has a flawless aptitude for an anecdote. He seems particularly to have been interested in the attitudes of his fellow soldiers and of local civilians, particularly the women, but he comments extensively on daily life in the camps, strategy, officers, drilling, ethics in the army, and his feelings, positive and negative, towards those who remained in Maine. Webb's careful and detailed descriptions of every battle and skirmish in which he was involved include everything from vignettes relating an individual soldier's reactions, to specific information on the tactics and strategy of cavalry. But it is the incidents he records about day to day life that provide the greatest insight into the soldiers' minds, and Webb is both uncommonly detailed for a Civil War diarist and allows his personal opinions and perspective to dominate his descriptions. His description of Belle Isle is extraordinary in the intensity of detail and emotional impact.

These five volumes are copies from the original diaries, and were made by Webb in the late spring and summer of 1865. He notes that, with the exception of some additions made from memory to his descriptions of Libby and Belle Isle Prisons, he has copied the diary exactly as it appears in the original. Offering an interesting balance to the original, he includes occasional footnotes offering retrospective commentary on his own writing. For example, while in 1862 he wrote that the men were upset at the dismissal of McClellan, a footnote indicates that in 1865, Webb came to feel that the men had been deluded by McClellan's self-aggrandizing play for their affection. His later comments on his own vacillation while deciding whether to reenlist, on the opinions of the media and non-combatants regarding the war, and on his opinions of Meade and other leaders also include some revealing reflections.

The first fifty pages of volume 3 are severely damp-stained and written in faint ink, and in parts are very difficult to read. Included with the diaries are an 1878 receipt for the payment of poll tax in Boston and one issue and two supplements of the First Maine Bugle (Campaign II, call 3, 5 and 9), dated January and July, 1891, and July, 1892. The Bugle was the publication of the veterans' organization for the 1st Maine Cavalry. A war-time photograph of Webb was included in Tobie's regimental history.


Our Generals, 1862

1 volume

"Our Generals" is a lithograph album (17 x 13.25 cm) consisting of 24 gray-toned lithograph carte de visite sized portraits of Union Civil War generals sold commercially by Leavitt & Allen of New York in 1862.

"Our Generals" is a lithograph album (17 x 13.25 cm) consisting of 24 gray-toned lithograph portraits of Union Civil War generals sold commercially by Leavitt & Allen of New York in 1862. The initials "A.W." appear in pencil on the inside front cover. There is a pre-printed index of names.

On each page, there is one lithographed carte de visite mounted into pre-cut slots surrounded by red and white decoration. The images themselves are either close ups or full body portraits. The name of the subject is handwritten in pencil under each image.

The album's covers are brown leather embossed with a floral pattern, with two large decorative brass clasps. The two brass closure tabs are stamped with "Our Generals."