COLLECTION GUIDES

1862-1869

Guide to the Collection

browse digital content

Representative digitized documents from this collection:

Restrictions on Access

Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists primarily of letters written by Dr. Charles E. Briggs while serving as assistant surgeon with the 24th Mass. Regiment, 1862-1863, and surgeon with the 54th Mass. Regiment, 1863-1865.

Biographical Sketch

Charles Edward Briggs was born on 6 Apr. 1833 to Robert and Caroline (Morton) Briggs of Boston. He graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1856. Between 1856 and 1862, he served as surgeon on the ship Jeremiah Thompson to London and the brig Newsboy to the Azores, practiced medicine in Boston, and taught Latin and Greek. On 12 Aug. 1862, he enlisted in the Civil War and was commissioned assistant surgeon in the 24th Mass. Infantry Regiment. He served at New Bern, N.C. and in the field in North and South Carolina. In Aug. 1863, he suffered a severe attack of dysentery and was hospitalized at Beaufort, S.C. After his recovery, he worked as post surgeon at Fort Marion, Fla., then was commissioned surgeon of the 54th Mass. Infantry Regiment on 24 Nov. 1863, beginning his service with that regiment at Morris Island, S.C. in May 1864. He served with the 54th until the end of the war and was mustered out on 20 Aug. 1865.

After the war, Charles E. Briggs moved to St. Louis, Mo. to practice medicine. He married Rebekah Whittaker (1844-1912) on 24 June 1869, and they had the following children: Caroline Morton Briggs, who married John Codman; Walter Motherwell Briggs, who married May Elizabeth Phillips; Paul Robert Briggs; and Charles Harold Briggs. Dr. Briggs also taught medicine, wrote on medical subjects, and was active in professional associations, including the International Medical Congress at Philadelphia in 1876. He died in 1894.

Collection Description

This collection consists primarily of letters written by Dr. Charles E. Briggs while serving as assistant surgeon with the 24th Mass. Regiment, 1862-1863, and surgeon with the 54th Mass. Regiment, 1863-1865. Letters written to his family in Boston and West Roxbury, Mass. describe his work in a hospital in New Bern, N.C., 1862-1863; work on the schooner Highlander off the coast of South Carolina, 1863; his promotion from assistant surgeon to surgeon, Aug. 1863; and the movement of the 24th Regiment from North Carolina to St. Augustine, Fla. Other topics include his decision to transfer from the 24th to the 54th Regiment, 1863-1864; medical care and post-mortem examinations following the Battle of Morris Island, S.C., 1864; conversations with Confederate prisoners; and poverty in South Carolina, 1864-1865. The collection also contains a letter written by Briggs to his mother Caroline (Morton) Briggs while a teacher at Mr. Churchill's Military Academy in Sing Sing, N.Y., Jan. 1862; and letters written to his family while working as a doctor in St. Louis, Mo., 1866-1869. In addition to his mother, correspondents include his siblings Robert Briggs, Caroline "Carrie" Morton Briggs, Elizabeth "Lizzie" (Briggs) Worthington, and Emma (Briggs) Allen.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Walter De Blois Briggs, 1961.

Restrictions on Access

Use of the originals is restricted. This collection is available as color digital facsimiles (see links below). Black and white microfilm is also available for use in the library.

Other Formats

Letters from this collection have been published in:

Briggs, Walter De Blois. Charles Edward Briggs: Civil War Surgeon in a Colored Regiment. Berkeley, Calif.: [s.n.], 1960.

The collection is also available on microfilm, P-807, 1 reel.

Organization of the Collection

The collection is organized chronologically.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1Folder 1digitized
digitizedJan.-Oct. 1862
Box 1Folder 2digitized
digitizedNov.-Dec. 1862
Box 1Folder 3digitized
digitizedJan. 1863
Box 1Folder 4digitized
digitizedFeb. 1863
Box 1Folder 5digitized
digitizedMar. 1863
Box 1Folder 6digitized
digitizedApr. 1863
Box 1Folder 7digitized
digitizedMay-June 1863
Box 1Folder 8digitized
digitizedJuly-Aug. 1863
Box 1Folder 9digitized
digitizedSep.-Oct. 1863
Box 1Folder 10digitized
digitizedNov. 1863
Box 1Folder 11digitized
digitizedDec. 1863
Box 1Folder 12digitized
digitizedJan. 1864
Box 1Folder 13digitized
digitizedMar.-Apr. 1864
Box 1Folder 14digitized
digitizedMay 1864
Box 1Folder 15digitized
digitizedJune-July 1864
Box 1Folder 16digitized
digitizedSep.-Oct. 1864
Box 1Folder 17digitized
digitizedNov.-Dec. 1864
Box 1Folder 18digitized
digitizedJan.-Mar. 1865
Box 1Folder 19digitized
digitizedMay-June 1865
Box 1Folder 20digitized
digitizedAug.-Dec. 1865
Box 1Folder 21digitized
digitizedJan.-May 1866
Box 1Folder 22digitized
digitizedSep. 1869
Box 1Folder 23
Memorabilia (dried flowers, etc.)

NOTE: The items in this folder have not been scanned.

Preferred Citation

Charles E. Briggs letters, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Briggs family.
Allen, Emma Frances Briggs.
Briggs, Caroline Morton, 1796-1900.
Briggs, Caroline Morton.
Briggs, Robert.
Worthington, Elizabeth Foster Briggs, 1830-1918.

Organizations:

Highlander (Schooner).
Mr. Churchill's Military Academy (Sing Sing, New York).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 24th (1861-1866).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 54th (1863-1865).

Subjects:

Family history--1850-1899.
Morris Island, Battle of, S.C., 1863 (July 10-September 7).
New Bern (N.C.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Physicians--Missouri--St. Louis.
Saint Augustine (Fla.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
South Carolina--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Hospitals.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Medical care.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 24th Volunteers.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 54th Volunteers.