Discover Civil War Treasures

The Civil War Manuscripts Collection is well worth delving into and you will find many gems. The collection is an amalgam of correspondence, journals, photographs, printed materials, and ephemera documenting numerous aspects of the War from a predominantly Union point of view, with many Connecticut regiments and individuals portrayed throughout the papers. There are copious amounts of correspondence of soldiers and officers describing military battles and events and commenting on politics, as well as the challenges of daily camp life. Letters from the wives and families on the home front provide a glimpse into civilian activities.

Women on the home front had the opportunity to support the war effort by organizing fairs through the auspices of the United States Sanitary Commission, an organization founded in 1861 to improve the unsanitary living conditions of the troops. The “Sanitary Fairs” could be elaborate events, lasting for several days to a week or longer, to raise money, heighten patriotism, and promote volunteerism.

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“Group of ladies in charge of the Schenectady North Albany Fair for the U. S. San Comm…” (Found in photograph album, box 14, folder 8)

Journals and diaries abound: volunteers describing their newly-issued uniforms and artillery to recounting military battles; medical facilities and operations described by Bridgeport surgeon, Robert Hubbard; a prisoner of war relating life in a Confederate prison camp, to name only a few.

Journal of a soldier from the Seventeenth Connecticut Volunteer Regiment describing the loss of life in his regiment on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

 “On Saturday A. M. July 4, our adjutant reported that the regiment went into the fight on the first day with 369 men & 17 officers, & came out with 91 men & 10 officers.” (Journal labeled “Gettysburg” in box 24)

“On Saturday A. M. July 4, our adjutant reported that the regiment went into the fight on the first day with 369 men & 17 officers, & came out with 91 men & 10 officers.” (Journal labeled “Gettysburg” in box 24)

A large assortment of photographs and engravings of soldiers, officers, Lincoln’s cabinet members, and civilians are of additional interest, as well as ephemera.

Union General Ambrose Burnside, led successful campaigns in Tennessee and North Carolina, however, was defeated badly at the Battle of the Crater and the Battle of Fredericksburg. The term, sideburns, a distinctive style of facial whiskers worn by General Burnside, is believed to have been derived from his surname.

"Gen. Burnside - Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1861 by D. Appleton & Co. in the Clerk's Office of the United States for the Southern District of New York"

"Gen. Burnside - Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1861 by D. Appleton & Co. in the Clerk's Office of the United States for the Southern District of New York" (Found in box 14, folder 7)

Examples of pictorial envelopes or “covers” demonstrating patriotic and political sentiments.

“Monument to the memory of Jeff Davis” and “Traitor! spare that Tree, Cleave not a single bough! in youth it shelter’d me, And I’ll protect it now.”  (Found in box 32, folder 15)

“Monument to the memory of Jeff Davis” and “Traitor! spare that Tree, Cleave not a single bough! in youth it shelter’d me, And I’ll protect it now.” (Found in box 32, folder 15)

The finding aid, Guide to the Civil War Manuscripts Collection (MS 619), is available on the Internet and is only one of many collections dealing with the Civil War held by Manuscripts and Archives.