March in the Archives: Civil War collections

It has been a while since I wrote a [Month] in the Archives post, but with the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and the number of related collections we cataloged in March, it seems like a good time to return to the series. Scholars of the Civil War may already know of these collections; most of them have already been featured as part of our  Civil War Manuscripts Project. Much of the biographical information comes directly from that site. Thanks to our grant from the NHPRC, they can now be searched on our online catalog.

We begin with Hartford, Connecticut resident James Eldridge, who kept a diary during the Civil War and added notes ca.1893-1898. According to the notes, Eldridge enlisted on 11 August 1862, was promoted to Corporal on 6 October 1862 and was again promoted, to Sergeant, on 10 November 1862. He received the rank of Second Lieutenant on 12 September 1864 and First Lieutenant on 19 March 1865. He joined the 23rd U. S. Colored Troops, with the rank of Second Lieutenant, in September 1864. (Ms 64832)

The John G. Crosby Civil War collection consists of letters written by John Crosby to his wife, Abby J. Crosby. Also included are his discharge and muster papers; several later documents, 1863-1885, including minutes of a meeting of the 24th Connecticut Veterans in New Haven in 1868; and documents regarding his wife’s attempts to secure a widow’s pension, 1882-1883. Crosby enlisted on 8 September 1862 and was mustered-in as First Sergeant, Company D, on 18 November 1862. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, Company H, on 6 April 1863 and mustered-out with his nine-months unit on 30 September 1863. At the time of his enlistment, Crosby was a 38-year-old barber. Crosby was a detailed correspondent. (Ms 64706)

Another general collection contains letters written by three individual soldiers. The first letter was written by J. Q. Adams in camp at New Haven, Connecticut, 1862 February 28, to his brother. Adams was with the 13th Connecticut Volunteers, and this letter was written on the regimental letterhead. The second letter was written from Morris Island by John Allen with the 10th Connecticut Volunteers. The final letter, dated 1863 July 11, was written from Yorktown, Pennsylvania, and was not signed. The author did indicate he was with the 16th Connecticut, and he also mentioned that he wanted the recipient to go back to Yorktown with him after the war to taste the berries, the best he had ever eaten. All of the letters described camp life, particularly food, and the movement (or non-movement) of their units. (Ms 84849)

John Chadwick wrote to his friend Matthew Murdock, of Westbrook, Connecticut, from Camp Thibodaux, Louisiana. The letter was written on letterhead illustrating the statue of Henry Clay in New Orleans. The cover bears an image of an eagle flying with an American flag. Chadwick described his trip to Louisiana, a battle in which four men were killed, and the improved quality of the food. (Ms 84960)

Enfield, Connecticut resident Walter Smithson‘s papers include two Civil War discharges, a Mason’s certificate, and a Grand Army Memorial record form, filled out by Smithson. He served as a Private in Company B, 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Smithson, born in England, listed his occupation as a farmer. His Master Mason’s certificate is from Doric Lodge No. 94, Enfield. Smithson received a gunshot wound in his left side at Cold Harbor, VA, on 3 June 1864 and was sent to the hospital in New Haven for treatment. His most intimate comrades were listed as Sergeant Henry Moody, Private John Harris (died 2 March 1864) and Sergeant Joseph Glover (killed 2 July 1864 at Petersburg, VA). Smithson enlisted on 18 September 1861 and was mustered-in on 27 September 1861. Surviving his wound at Cold Harbor, he was mustered-out on 12 December 1865. Smithson was present during engagements at: New Bern, NC, 14 March 1862; Siege of Fort Macon, NC, April 1862; Antietam, 17 September 1862; Fredericksburg, VA, 13 December 1862; and Fort Darling, VA, in May of 1864. (Ms 65522)

Next we have a collection of correspondence and military papers sent and received by Alfred Howe Terry, a native of Hartford, Connecticut. It includes letters sent to his parents and siblings in New Haven, Connecticut, while he was traveling in Europe in 1860. After his return, Terry enlisted to fight in the Civil War. During that time, and later, he wrote many letters to his siblings, including sister Harriet, brother Robert, and mother Clarissa. He enlisted on 22 April 1861 and was mustered-in as commander of the 2nd Connecticut Infantry on 7 May 1861. He was mustered-out of this three-month unit on 7 August 1861. Terry reenlisted in the 7th Connecticut Infantry on 20 August 1861 and was mustered-in as Colonel on 17 September 1861. He was promoted to Brigadier General (U. S. Volunteers) on 25 April 1862, to Brevet Major General (U. S. Volunteers) on 26 August 1864 and to Major General (U. S. Volunteers) and Brigadier General (U. S. Regular Army) on 15 January 1865. Terry was promoted to Brevet Major General (U. S. Regular Army) on 13 March 1865. Alfred Terry retired a Major General from the U. S. Army in 1888. Among the correspondence are many military telegraphs sent in 1864. A memo book contains some diary entries as well. (Ms 65598)

Letters written by William Winship to his mother in Farmington, Connecticut,  from various locations in the south, form the bulk of Winship’s collection. Other items include the fragment of a diary (March-May 1863) on paper from “a secesh house,” and two discharge papers. Winship, an unmarried farmer, enlisted on 8 September 1862. A member of the Twenty-Fifth Connecticut Infantry, Company K, Winship was mustered-in on 11 November 1862. He was mustered-out of his nine-months unit on 26 August 1863. According to his 1863 discharge papers, Winship was 19-years-old, had a light complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. (Ms 65847)

Slightly different is a short letter from Philip Smith to Donald L. Jacobus about an error Smith made in tracking pension records. The letter is accompanied by transcription of Civil War pension records for various men named Waterman. (Ms 56068)

The papers of Captain Leonard A. Dickinson contain a list of names of the soldiers of Company C, 12th Regiment,  along with the men’s rank, date of enlistment, and comments about promotions, desertions, deaths, discharges, and illnesses. According to Captain Dickinson, “This blank muster roll I found in Fort Jackson, La. when that fortification was taken in April 1862. It is a “Confederate” production. On it I have endeavored to keep the history of the men of my company since its organization for my own gratification + for future reference.” (Ms 101096)

Henry  Snow family corresponded with his family in East Hampton, Connecticut, including his mother Eunice, brother Rufus, and sister Lavinia. Lavinia died of scarlet fever in May 1863. Snow, an unmarried mechanic, enlisted on 15 August 1862 and was mustered-in a Private on 5 September 1862. Part of the Twenty-First Connecticut Infantry, Company H, Snow was promoted Corporal on 1 March 1865 and was mustered-out on 16 June 1865. Due to illness Henry did not participate in the battle of Fredericksburg, VA, in December 1862, although his regiment was present. (Ms 66721)

Dwight Peck was born and lived in North Windham, Connecticut, although he appears to have tried his hand at teaching in Ohio. His collection consists of a letter from a friend about a war meeting in Ohio in 1856; several chatty letters to friends, 1859; letters in 1860 about the presidential election  and possible candidates, the state elections, his activity in the campaign, and a ballot of the Union Party in Connecticut. Also a series of letters while Dwight was serving in Virginia with the 21st Connecticut Infantry Regiment in 1862, in which he described to his family his activities, politics, the effectiveness of the Emancipation Proclamation, and his opinion of the commanders of the Union Army. In January 1863 there were  a series of letters from fellow soldiers and his commanding officer to his parents about Dwight’s death in the hospital of typhoid fever. One letter contained  advice about how to get Dwight’s body back to Connecticut. The collection also includes his military promotion to Corporal, an account of his pay and clothing, and correspondence to his parents from the federal government about Dwight’s back pay which was due to them. Finally, there is an essay about Windham that appears to be written by Dwight, a poem about Dwight’s death written by a cousin, and bills to Dwight’s father Pearl Peck, 1846. (Ms 87160)

Dictated or typed by Albert Peck in 1906, the pages of his reminiscences recall his service as captain with the 17th Connecticut Volunteers, Company D, during the Civil War. He was in the militia in Bridgeport, Connecticut, before answering the call for soldiers in 1862. A significant portion of the memoir relates his involvement in the battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (Ms 86269)

There are a few more non-war related records we created last month that will be the subject of my next post. In the meantime, search our online catalog for any Connecticut history topic and come research with us!

1 thought on “March in the Archives: Civil War collections

  1. Pingback: March in the Archives: Part II « Connecticut Historical Society Manuscripts Blog

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