1754-1926; bulk: 1861-1865

Guide to the Microfilm Edition

Collection Summary


This microfilm edition consists of Civil War correspondence, diaries, and journals from several collections of personal or family papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Biographical Sketches

Luke Emerson Bicknell

Luke Emerson Bicknell (b. 1839), of Boston, enlisted in the 1st Company of Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters at Lynnfield on August 19, 1861, after completing three months of service with the 8th Massachusetts Regiment. The Sharpshooters were an independent company, attached at various times to the 15th, 19th, and 20th Massachusetts Regiments. Bicknell was wounded at Antietam, promoted to second lieutenant a few days later, and discharged on July 18, 1863. (Bicknell is identified as Emerson Luke Bicknell in Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War.)

Edward Jarvis Bartlett

Edward Jarvis Bartlett (1842-1914), of Concord, Mass., enlisted in F Company of the 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on August 19, 1862. He saw service in North Carolina at Rawle's Mill and Whitehall and was mustered out on June 18, 1863, when the nine-month enlistment term of the regiment expired. Bartlett then served in a recruiting office in Nashville, Tennessee, where he helped enlist colored regiments. He then served with the U.S. Sanitary Commission until the summer of 1864. On July 5, 1864, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in E Company, 5th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, the first Massachusetts cavalry regiment to be composed entirely of black troops. The regiment saw duty in the Washington, D.C., area and dismounted at Petersburg, after which it was shipped to Texas as a counterthreat to Maximillian's adventure in Mexico. Bartlett was mustered out on October 31, 1865.

John E. Bassett

John E. Bassett, of Southbridge, Mass., was mustered into service at Worcester in the autumn of 1861, served with D Company of the 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in North Carolina and Virginia, was wounded at Cold Harbor, and was mustered out in the autumn of 1864.

Moses A. Cleveland

Moses A. Cleveland (b. 1822), of Willoughby, Ohio, enlisted in the 7th Battery, Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery, at Worcester, Mass., on January 4, 1864. He served in the Department of the Gulf and was discharged at Boston on November 10, 1865.

J. Chapin Warner

J. Chapin Warner, of Granby, Mass., enlisted in K Company, 34th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on September 31, 1862. He served through the war as a private and was appointed chief bugler in 1863. He saw action at the battles of New Market, Winchester, Petersburg, Fisher Hill, Cedar Creek, and Appomattox. He was mustered out on June 16, 1865.

George H. Baxter

George H. Baxter (ca. 1824-1862), a farmer and resident of Newton, Mass., enlisted in the Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry on October 19, 1861, when he was 37 years old. He was mustered into the 24th Regiment as a private in Company F on October 23, 1861. The regiment was recruited at Camp Massasoit, Readville, Mass., starting on September 1, and left for Annapolis, Md. on December 1. As part of Foster's Brigade, Burnside's Coast Division, the regiment saw action with losses at Roanoke Island and Newbern, N.C. In May of 1862, Baxter's regiment joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, and in early June moved on expedition towards Little Washington, N.C. They met the enemy on June 5 at Tranter's Creek, where Baxter was one of five men killed in battle.

Andrew R. Linscott

Andrew R. Linscott (1844-1926), of Woburn, Mass., enlisted in K Company, 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on July 29, 1862. He saw service with the Army of the Potomac at Cold Harbor, Spottsylvania, and the Wilderness. He was wounded at Petersburg on June 18, 1864, transferred to the 9th Veteran Reserve Corps, and mustered out on June 26, 1865.

Edwin W. Bearse

Edwin W. Bearse (b.1839), of Barnstable, Mass., enlisted in E Company, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on August 10, 1862, and was mustered out on August 31. He saw service in the area of Washington, D.C., and Baltimore before moving to the operations in South Carolina. The 40th served as a mounted infantry regiment in Florida, after which it was sent north to participate in the actions at Drury's Bluff and Cold Harbor. Bearse was wounded at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864, and was mustered out on the 16th.

Thomas S. Howland

Thomas S. Howland (b. 1844), of North Dartmouth, Mass., was mustered into I Company, 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, in August 1862, and was successively promoted to corporal, sergeant, first sergeant, and second lieutenant. He saw service in Virginia, then at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge, and took part in William T. Sherman's Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea. He was mustered out on June 11, 1865, with the rank of first sergeant.

Caleb H. Beal

Caleb H. Beal (1832-1876), of Hingham, Mass., was living in New York when the war broke out and enlisted in the 14th Regiment, New York Volunteer Infantry. In the spring of 1863, he joined the 107th New York Volunteers and was commissioned second lieutenant. In December of 1863, he resigned his commission, and in June of the following year, he enlisted as a private in the 35th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, where he was promoted to corporal in May of 1865. On June 9, he transferred to the 29th Massachusetts Volunteers and became a sergeant. He saw action at Antietam, both battles of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Petersburg, and South Mountain. He was mustered out on July 29, 1865.

Stephen Goodhue Emerson

Stephen Goodhue Emerson (1838-1863), of Chelsea, Mass., enlisted in H Company, 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on July 31, 1862. He saw service at Blackburn's Ford, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville, where he was killed in action on May 3, 1863.

John W. Trafton

John W. Trafton (b. 1839), of Quincy, Mass., joined E Company, 27th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, at Springfield, Mass., on October 16, 1861, with the rank of first lieutenant and was commissioned captain on July 23, 1862. He saw service chiefly in North Carolina, was slightly wounded at Newbern on August 2, 1863, and was posted to recruiting duty in Boston. He became Acting Assistant Adjutant General on July 29, 1864, but was returned to his regiment in December and assumed command of I Company. On March 7, 1865, he became Acting Assistant Inspector General and was mustered out on June 26, 1865. He then served with the U.S. Customs Service and attempted to secure the appointment to the post of U.S. Army paymaster.

George Edward Fowle

George Edward Fowle (b. 1837), of Woburn, Mass., enlisted in K Company, 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on July 21, 1862. He was mustered on August 22 and commissioned a second lieutenant on January 15, 1865. Fowle saw service at Cold Harbor and Petersburg and was wounded at Hatcher's Run on February 6, 1865, hospitalized for three months, and mustered out on May 18, 1865.

Joseph Lincoln Brigham

Joseph Lincoln Brigham (b. 1840), of Boston, was appointed captain's clerk of the U.S.S. Pocahontas on June 1, 1861, and took up his duties on the 15th. On February 3, 1862, he became the pay steward aboard the U.S.S. A. Houston and served until his discharge on October 9, 1862. On October 25, he enlisted as quartermaster sergeant in B Company, 1st Battalion, Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery, and was appointed first sergeant on October 1, 1862. He served with the battalion in coastal defense duties in New England until his discharge on June 29, 1865.

Edward Louis Edes

Edward Louis Edes (1845-1864), of Bolton, Mass., enlisted in B Company, 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on June 23, 1862. He was mustered on August 5 and promoted to corporal on February 25, 1864. Edes saw action at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge. He began the Atlanta Campaign with William T. Sherman's army, became seriously ill, and was transferred to Hospital No. 2, at Chattanooga, where he died on July 3, 1864.

Robert Thaxter Edes

Robert Thaxter Edes (1838-1923), of Bolton, Mass., was commissioned assistant surgeon on September 30, 1861. He saw service with the Mortar Flotilla in the West Gulf Squadron, serving on the U.S.S. Horace Beale and the Black Hawk in operations at Port Hudson and in the Red River expedition. In September 1864, he was assigned to the U.S. Naval Hospital at Chelsea, Mass. He was then transferred to duty on the U.S.S. Colorado and resigned on May 31, 1865.

Henry Francis Wellington

Henry Francis Wellington (1841-1915), of Milton, Mass., enlisted in B Company, 45th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, on September 12, 1862. The 45th was a new militia regiment, organized in response to President Lincoln's call for volunteers. It was organized at Camp Meigs as a nine-month regiment and saw service at Beaufort, Newbern, Goldsboro, and Kinston before being mustered out at Dedham on July 7, 1863. One week later, part of the regiment was reactivated in response to the Boston draft riots between July 14 and July 21, 1863.

Oliver A. Ricker

Oliver A. Ricker (b. 1838), of Lawrence, Mass., enlisted in C Company, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on August 14, 1862. He served for three years and saw service in the area of Washington, D.C., before becoming ill with typhoid fever and spending time in a military hospital. According to the official record, Ricker was mustered out, disabled, at Yorktown on June 2, 1862. However, the entries in his diary, which continue to September 1863, suggest that he may have been discharged to his home well before mustering out. A copy of a discharge certificate indicates that he was mustered out at Providence, R.I., on May 20, 1863.

William H. Eastman

William H. Eastman (1839-1912), of Melrose, Mass., enlisted in the 2nd Battery (Nim's Battery) of Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery on July 31, 1861. After brief service in Maryland, the battery was assigned to the Department of the Gulf and saw service at Vicksburg, Baton Rouge, and Port Hudson. At the expiration of his three-year enlistment, Eastman chose not to re-enlist and was discharged on August 16, 1864.

Henry Mitchell Whitney

Henry Mitchell Whitney (1843-1911), of Northampton, Mass., enlisted in C Company, 52nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on September 19, 1862. On October 14, he was promoted to the rank of sergeant major, left C Company, and became a member of the regimental staff. After seeing service at Baton Rouge and Port Hudson, the regiment, which had been enlisted for nine months, returned to Massachusetts and was mustered out on August 14, 1863. After his discharge, Whitney took up service with the United State Christian Commission and was active in Virginia, where he served until 1865.

Samuel Storrow

Samuel Storrow (1843-1865), of Boston, enlisted as a corporal in H Company, 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, a nine-month regiment, on September 12, 1862. He saw service at Newbern, Rawle's Mill, Whitehall, and Goldsboro before being mustered out in June 1863. On September 22, 1864, he was mustered as a first lieutenant in G Company, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, at the time of its reorganization. He saw service with William T. Sherman's army in Georgia and the Carolinas before his death at Averysboro, N.C., on March 16, 1865.

Lorin Low Dame

Lorin Low Dame (1838-1903), of Lowell, Mass., began recruiting a battery of light artillery late in 1862. He was mustered into the 15th Battery, Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery, as a second lieutenant on February 9, 1863. He served as the battery recruiting officer, completed the quota, and sailed from Boston for the Department of the Gulf in March. On September 27, he became a first lieutenant and saw action at New Orleans. Dame also participated in the Arkansas expedition and the fall of Mobile. He was mustered out on August 4, 1865.

Charles M. Whelden

Charles M. Whelden (1821-1910), of Pittsfield, Mass., joined the "Pittsfield Guards," Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, as a fourth sergeant in 1854. He became a fourth lieutenant in A Company of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia in March of 1856, then captain in 1858, and was discharged in September of 1860.

Under the direction of General Benjamin F. Butler, Whelden began to recruit the 31st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry in western Massachusetts during the autumn of 1861 and became acting lieutenant colonel of the regiment. He saw service at New Orleans, Port Hudson, and Baton Rouge, before becoming commandant of Fort Pike. Although his commission was issued by Governor John A. Andrew, Whelden never received it and resigned in protest on December 23, 1862. General Butler recalled him to service and appointed him provost marshal for the district of Virginia, a post he held for the remainder of the war.

54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was the first northern regiment composed entirely of black troops, although all of the officers were white. The regiment, which began formation in Massachusetts on March 30, 1863, was composed of troops from many states and saw service in South Carolina, most notably in the assault on Fort Wagner. The 54th also served in various minor actions near Charleston and participated in the Florida expedition before it was mustered out on March 27, 1865.

Charles Bowers

Charles Bowers, of Concord, Mass., enlisted as a third lieutenant in the 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, saw service near Washington and Bull Run, and was mustered out on July 31, 1861, having completed the regiment's three-month tour of duty. Bowers then began to recruit and joined G Company of the 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Charles E. Bowers

Charles E. Bowers, son of Charles Bowers, joined the 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry--his father's regiment--on June 10, 1862. He became first sergeant on November 16, second lieutenant on December 30, was wounded at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, became first lieutenant on June 1, 1864, and was mustered out disabled on October 25, 1864.

George Middleton Barnard

George Middleton Barnard (1837-1898), of Boston, was commissioned as first lieutenant on August 20, 1861, and mustered into C Company, 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, on January 14, 1862. He saw service at Antietam, Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and the second battle of Bull Run, where he was wounded five times. He became a captain on November 1, 1862, and was successively breveted major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel. He also served as Assistant Commissary of Muster for the 1st Division, 5th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and was mustered out on September 2, 1864.

George Lincoln Prescott

George Lincoln Prescott (1829-1864), of Concord, Mass., held a commission in the "Concord Artillery," Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, before the Civil War. On April 30, 1861, he was commissioned captain, and his unit was mustered for three months as G Company, 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He saw service in Washington, Virginia, and the first battle of Bull Run, before he was mustered out on July 31, 1861. Shortly thereafter, Prescott was given the authority to recruit a company, and on October 31, 1861, he became captain of B Company, 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. On August 13, 1862, he became a lieutenant colonel and then, on December 20, colonel in command of the regiment. He saw service in the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the James, was wounded six times at Gettysburg, was mortally wounded at Petersburg on June 18, 1864, and died the following day. In 1867, he was posthumously breveted to the rank of brigadier general as of June 18, 1864.

George Henry Gordon

George Henry Gordon (1823-1886) was a soldier and lawyer from Boston, Massachusetts. After graduating from West Point in 1846, he was commissioned in the Mounted Rifles and subsequently transferred to the infantry. He fought in the Mexican War, receiving two wounds and one brevet, and went on to serve on the frontier at various posts. Gordon resigned from the Army in 1854 to attend Harvard Law School and become a lawyer in Boston. He returned to the Army in 1861 and was commissioned colonel of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry on May 25, 1861.

As colonel, Gordon commanded the 1st Brigade, Banks's Division, Army of the Potomac (28 Aug.-18 Oct. 1861); 3rd Brigade, Banks's Division (13-14 Mar. 1862); and the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Banks's V Corps (13 Mar.-4 Apr. 1862). As brigadier general, United States Volunteers, 9 June 1862, he commanded the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Army of the Shenandoah (4 Apr.-27 May 1862 and 18-26 June 1862). He also led the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Army of Virginia (6 June-12 Sep. 1862) at Chantilly and Cedar Mountain.

At Antietam and South Mountain, Gordon commanded the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, XII Corps, Army of the Potomac (12-17 Sep. 1862). In the Army of the Potomac, he commanded the 2nd Division, IV Corps (4 May-15 July 1863) at Suffolk and the 1st Division, XI Corps (17 July-5 Aug. 1863). He then commanded the South End of Folly Island, X Corps (16 Aug.-24 Oct. 1862 and 28 Nov. 1863-15 Jan. 1864); the Forces of Folly Island, X Corps (15-28 Jan. 1864); and the District of Florida in the Department of the South (13 May-2 June 1864). Gordon also commanded the United States forces at Mobile Bay, the Union Department, and Army of the Gulf (1-31 Aug. 1864).

Breveted major general, United States Volunteers, for war service on April 9, 1865, Gordon was mustered out in August due to ill health. He returned to his Boston law office and wrote a number of books on the Civil War campaigns and battles in Virginia.

Collection Description

This microfilm edition contains more than 30,000 pages of correspondence, diaries, and journals written by 29 men who served with Massachusetts military units during the Civil War. The documents in this collection describe a variety of experiences in many of the most important battles of that war, as well as dreary field service and life in military hospitals, the Navy, the United States Christian Commission, and a provost marshal's office. Most of the material was generated by enlisted men serving in the infantry, but the collection also contains the papers of field officers and a major general. Many of the individuals represented in this microfilm served in more than one military unit; see the Index by Military Unit below to access the collections by military unit. To access the collections by individual, see the Index by Individual.

This microfilm is composed of 28 collections at the Massachusetts Historical Society. Collections have been filmed in their entirety, and some contain items dating from before or after the Civil War. Material is arranged chronologically, except where noted.

Acquisition Information

The items in this collection were acquired through a combination of gifts and purchases.

Detailed Description of the Collection

"The Sharpshooters," by Luke Emerson Bicknell, 1st Company, Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters, 1863, 1883

This narrative, signed at West Cummington, Mass., in March 1883, was composed from the diary Bicknell kept during his service and provides details of his tactics and skill as a sharpshooter. Bicknell describes serving with Captain John Saunders; daily camp life; skirmishes in various parts of Virginia and Maryland, including Ball's Bluff and Edwards Ferry, Va.; the siege of Yorktown, Va.; the battles of Fredericksburg, Malvern Hill, and Chancellorsville, Va.; and his discharge following the battle of Gettysburg, Pa. The narrative also includes copies of letters to Bicknell in 1863 from former sharpshooters assigned to separate regiments. It was written on 116 pages of a bound notebook that is extremely fragile and patched. Sometime in the present century, a typed copy of the manuscript was created, which is also included on this reel. Both the original and the typescript are held by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Reel 1
108 exposures

Journal of the 2nd Company, Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters (Captain Lewis E. Wentworth, of Boston, commanding), 1861-1863

This journal was kept by an unknown member of the company, probably a private soldier. It is clearly a copy, perhaps taken from pocket diaries kept by various soldiers in the field. For many years it was assumed that this journal was written by Captain Lewis E. Wentworth, commander of the company, but internal evidence indicates it was the work of some enlisted man serving in Wentworth's company. Entries describe daily camp life in various parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as fighting, including the battle of Malvern Hill, Va., July 1862, and other topics. Included with the journal is a transcribed copy of a letter written by Sergeant Nathan W. Haynes following the amputation of his leg, Dec. 1863. The ink in some portions of the diary has faded, so duplicate exposures of those pages appear on this reel.

Reel 1
104 exposures

Correspondence of Edward Jarvis Bartlett, 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry, 1839-1923

The Bartlett correspondence consists of letters written by Bartlett to siblings Martha, Annie Keyes, and Samuel Ripley Bartlett. Letters relating to service with the 44th Infantry describe training at Camp Meigs in Readville, Boston, Mass., and camp life, as well as guard and picket duty at Camp Stevenson, New Bern, N.C., Aug. 1862-May 1863. Letters relating to service with the 5th Cavalry describe guarding Confederate prisoners at Point Lookout, Md., the promotion of Lt. Colonel Charles Francis Adams to colonel of the regiment, the siege of Petersburg, Va., and military duties in Brazos Santiago, Tex., May 1864-Oct. 1865. The correspondence also includes a letter written by Bartlett family friend Ralph Waldo Emerson to Reverend Barzillai Frost about ordering books, 3 Jul. 1839; a letter written by Nathaniel Hawthorne to an unknown recipient regarding the health of his daughter Rose, 18 Mar. 1863; a letter by Albert Matthews to a descendant of Bartlett regarding a meeting at the Colonial Society, 2 Jan. 1923; and other items. The reel includes duplicate exposures of badly faded items.

Reel 1
621 exposures

Diary of John E. Bassett, 25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1886

This ledger contains a detailed, almost daily account of Bassett's army life. Pages 1-41 contain household accounts for the years 1875-1876, so Bassett most likely copied his diary into the ledger sometime after his service, perhaps from a series of pocket diaries. The text of the diary can be found on pages 42-232. Entries describe camp life, including drills, inspections, and dress parades; Burnside's expedition to North Carolina, 1862; the battle of Cold Harbor, 1864; other campaigns and skirmishes in North Carolina and Virginia; and Union songs heard at reunions, 1880-1883. Also included are Bassett's discharge certificate, 20 Oct. 1864, and letters sent and received while Bassett lived in Connecticut, 1865-1886, discussing memories of Civil War service. Pages 233-243 of the ledger are blank. Pages 244-253 contain a company roster, as well as lists of men who were promoted, discharged, furloughed, wounded, or killed.

Reel 2
211 exposures

Journal of Moses A. Cleveland, 7th Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery, 1864-1897

This journal, compiled from his earlier diaries, was written by Cleveland in 1897, more than 30 years after his service with the 7th Light Artillery. Entries from his original journals, written between 1 Jan. 1864 and 21 Nov. 1865, were copied by Cleveland and expanded from his memory of events. Events described in the journal include: Cleveland's voyage from Ohio to Boston to enlist; the regiment's voyages to New Orleans and Houston, Tex.; and daily activities with the regiment, including training drills, guard duty, news of fellow troops, and fighting in the area. The journal also contains a photograph of Cleveland taken in 1892; a list of officers and privates of the 7th Battery; and a few captured Confederate documents, including a letter from Brigadier General Gideon J. Pillow to Colonel George William Brent, a letter from W.B. Bate to Colonel George G. Garner, and a copy of General Order No. 12, concerning Sabbath observance, signed by General Braxton Bragg.

Reel 2
229 exposures

Correspondence of J. Chapin Warner, 34th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1905

This correspondence includes both incoming and outgoing letters describing Warner's activities from his enlistment and mustering-in at Camp Wool, Worcester, Mass., July 1862, to his discharge in June 1865. The letters, written regularly from Virginia, provide detailed information on camp life--drills, forced marches, construction of shelters, rations, leisure activities, and observations of military commanders of the 34th Regiment, such as Colonel George D. Wells, Lt. Colonel William S. Lincoln, and Major George Crook. The correspondence also describes various military engagements, including the battles of New Market, Piedmont, Winchester, Fisher's Hill, Cedar Creek, and Petersburg. Correspondents include Milo A. Bartlett, Samuel A. Bartlett, and William H. Tucker. The reel also contains some post-war materials relating to the 34th Regiment, dated 1870 and 1905.

Reel 2
336 exposures

Correspondence of George H. Baxter, 24th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1849-1862

The majority of these letters were written by Baxter to his brother James F. G. Baxter, with a few written to friends. The letters describe camp life in Maryland and North Carolina. Also included in the correspondence are several letters to James F. G. Baxter from James L. Colby and Julius M. Lathrop, detailing George Baxter's death at Tranter's Creek; two letters from John H. B. Kent of the 44th Massachusetts Infantry, describing his duties in the Civil War; and letters, 1849-1850, from S. D. Cunningham in California to Thompson Baxter, discussing his experiences in the gold rush. The reel also contains a few unsigned sketches, probably by George Baxter.

Reel 3
60 exposures

Correspondence of Andrew R. Linscott, 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1819-1926

The Linscott's correspondence includes descriptions of the routine of camp life, furloughs, marches, and Linscott's participation in the Wilderness campaign and the siege of Petersburg, as well as the battles of Gravelly Run, Hatcher's Run, and the Weldon Railroad operations. Among his correspondents are Emma Jane Linscott and Mary H. Ryder. The reel also contains an 1865 muster roll for the regiment. Duplicate exposures have been made of letters that have faded and letters written in soft pencil.

Reel 3
673 exposures

Correspondence of Edwin W. Bearse, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865

The Bearse correspondence contains letters sent by Bearse to his family describing campaigns in Florida, including the battle of Olustee, Feb. 1864; the battle of the Wilderness in Virginia, Mar. 1864; and camp duties at various places in Virginia.

Reel 4
61 exposures

Correspondence of Thomas S. Howland, 33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865

The Howland correspondence consists of letters from Howland to his mother describing his daily life and activities, including descriptions of General Jackson's troops at the second battle of Bull Run, 1862; the battle of Fredericksburg, 1862; the battle of Chancellorsville, 1863; the battle of Gettysburg, 1863; the battle of Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tenn., 1863-1864; the Atlanta Campaign, 1864; and Sherman's March to the Sea, 1864. Duplicate exposures have been made of pages that are faded or stained.

Reel 4
147 exposures

Correspondence of Caleb H. Beal, 14th and 107th New York Volunteer Infantry, 29th and 35th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1865

Beal's correspondence contains 95 letters detailing his Civil War service. Letters describe the routine of camp life and the movement, morale, and discipline of troops, as well as the first and second battles of Bull Run, the battles of Antietam, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, South Mountain, and the siege of Petersburg. Duplicate exposures have been made of letters written in pencil or faded ink.

Reel 4
300 exposures

Correspondence of Stephen Goodhue Emerson, 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1857-1878

Emerson's correspondence describes camp life; the activities of Emerson's cousin Nathaniel P. Emerson, who joined his regiment, and of his brother John S. Emerson, a surgeon with the 9th New Hampshire Regiment; Emerson's participation in the battle of Fredericksburg; and Abraham Lincoln's visit in April 1863. Most of the letters are addressed to Emerson's mother, his father N. F. Emerson, his brother, and his sister Elizabeth E. Bell. The correspondence also includes a few letters Emerson wrote from Harvard College before the war, 1857-1861, and a few from Warren H. Cudworth, chaplain of the 1st Regiment, after his death.

Reel 5
215 exposures

Papers of John W. Trafton, 27th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1891

The Trafton papers consist of muster rolls, requisitions, returns, orders, vouchers, communiques, and other official military documents relating to command of a company. The papers also contain extensive post-war correspondence, 1880-1891, relating to political appointments in Washington, D.C., particularly letters written on Trafton's behalf for the position of Army paymaster. Correspondents include Senator William E. Chandler, Senator Henry Laurens Dawes, and General Charles Devens. The papers are divided into two parts; the second part consists of oversize documents.

Reel 5
371 exposures

Correspondence of George Edward Fowle, 39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865

This correspondence consists of Fowle's letters to his friend and future wife Eliza Caldwell, of Woburn, between July 1863 and March 1865. Fowle writes of his regiment's movements and military involvements, mostly in Virginia. The letters also contain descriptions of Fowle's medical care and hospitalization after he was wounded in February 1865. Duplicate exposures of badly faded items are included.

Reel 5
138 exposures

Correspondence of Joseph Lincoln Brigham, U.S.S. Pocahontas and U.S.S. A. Houghton, 1st Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery, 1798-1912

This correspondence contains letters written by Brigham describing his service as captain's clerk aboard the Pocahontas, June-Sep. 1861, including patrol duty near Alexandria, Va.; a skirmish with the ship George Pope off Acquia Creek in July 1861; and a marine exploit into Port Tobacco, Md., to capture a Confederate spy. This reel also contains the correspondence of Erastus F. Brigham of Brooklyn, N.Y., and his family, including a letter describing conditions during the Indian Wars in Florida, 1835-1838; receipts and Maryland tax notices kept by Lott Mason, 1798-1811; and Brigham family genealogical notes. Correspondence between November 6, 1861, and August 18, 1863, is missing.

Reel 6
108 exposures

Correspondence of Edward Louis Edes and Robert Thaxter Edes, 33nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, U.S. Navy, 1861-1865

The Edes correspondence contains Edward Louis Edes's letters to his mother Mary, his father Richard, his sisters Elizabeth and Sophie, his brother Robert, his uncle Alexander Pope, and his cousin Charlotte Pope. Edes writes about camp life, the provisioning of soldiers, and campaigns in which he participated, including the second battle of Bull Run, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Atlanta Campaign. Correspondence after Edes's death concerns his medical treatment and burial. Also included are letters of condolence from his officers and fellow soldiers. Robert Edes's letters to his family relate to his work as a naval doctor. Some contain descriptions of Louisville, Ky., Port Royal, S.C., and the Red River expedition of 1864, as well as Robert Edes's criticism of Nathaniel Banks's military leadership.

Reel 6
620 exposures

Correspondence and diary of Henry Francis Wellington, 45th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 1862-1863

Wellington's diary, kept from 12 Sep. 1862 to 21 July 1863, and his letters, written to his family from various locations in the field, span the entire nine-month service of his regiment. Wellington describes camp life, military routines, and expeditions from his regiment's post at Newbern, N.C. Typescript only.

Reel 7
290 exposures

Diary of Oliver A. Ricker, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1884

This diary was kept by Ricker from 1 Jan. 1863 to 4 Sep. 1863. Entries describe camp life and picket duties in the Washington area; Ricker's lameness due to a bad hip; his hospitalization at the Harwood General Hospital for typhoid fever and his hip; transfer to the Lovell General Hospital in Portsmouth Grove, R.I., via the hospital ship Daniel Webster; time spent there; and his return to Boston and Lawrence following discharge due to illness in May 1863. Included with the diary are a few miscellaneous papers related to Ricker's military career, 1863-1884. Duplicate exposures of faded and blurred items have been made.

Reel 7
128 exposures

Correspondence of William H. Eastman, 2nd Battery, Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery, 1861-1864

Eastman's letters home were written from Camp Adams and Quincy, Mass., Baltimore, Md., Fortress Monroe, Va., and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, La. The correspondence includes descriptions of freedmen; camp life; comments on the course of the war, especially local engagements; and opinions and criticisms of senior officers such as George B. McClellan and Nathaniel P. Banks. Duplicate exposures have been made of letters that have become faded and difficult to read.

Reel 7
315 exposures

Correspondence of Henry Mitchell Whitney, 52nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, United States Christian Commission, 1862-1865

Whitney's correspondence includes descriptions of military life and operations at Opelousas, Barre's Landing, Bayou Boeuf, Thibodeauxville, Donaldsonville, and Baton Rouge, La., the campaign up the Teche, and the assault on Port Hudson, La., in 1863. Duplicate exposures of some items are included.

Reel 8
590 exposures

Correspondence and diaries of Samuel Storrow, 44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1828-1888

This reel consists of Storrow's letters home between October 12, 1862, and March 12, 1865, followed by four diaries: 1) a journal of a voyage to Fayal, Azores, 31 May-21 July 1862; 2) a pocket diary, 31 Jan.-19 Apr. 1863; 3) a field diary, 26 Sep. 1864-26 Feb. 1865; and 4) a field diary, 16 Jan.-11 Mar. 1865. Diaries include notes on fortifications and procedures. The reel also contains the papers of Storrow's father, Charles S. Storrow, a Lawrence, Mass., engineer, 1828-1888.

Reel 9
785 exposures

Correspondence and journals of Lorin Low Dame, 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery, 1862-1865

The Dame papers contain letters from Dame to his wife, Nancy Isabel (Arnold) Dame, written from Fortress Monroe, Va., Bayou St. John and Gentilly, La., and Pensacola, Fla., and describing the course of the war, attitudes of Southerners, conditions of blacks, and Dame's activities in the field, particularly the battle at Fort Blakely, Mobile, Ala., 1865. The correspondence also includes letters from Dame's wife, family friends, and Edmund Dascomb, his roommate while a student at Tufts College, Medford, Mass. Dame's diaries date from 1 June 1863 to 30 June 1864 while Dame was stationed in New Orleans, La. Entries describe daily life in camp, local history, culture and geography, news of the war and fellow troops, and his hospitalization and treatment for a fever (probably malaria). Excluded from this microfilm are letters between 1839 and 1861 unrelated to Dame's military career, as well as six personal items between 1876 and 1904. Duplicate microfilm exposures have been made for badly faded items.

Reel 10-11
844 exposures

Papers of Charles M. Whelden, 31st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, U.S. Provost Marshal, 1754-1910

The bulk of Whelden's papers consists of correspondence, accounts, orders, requisitions, muster rolls, vouchers, telegrams, and other documents relating to his military career. Some of the subjects represented in these papers are: recruiting activities instigated in 1861 by General Benjamin F. Butler for the Western Bay State Regiment, including a dispute with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts over financial responsibility; Whelden's command of Ft. Pike, La., during the occupation of New Orleans, 1862; guerrilla activities in the Pearl River area; smuggling activities; and appeals for aid from inhabitants. After 1862, papers relating to Whelden's tenure as provost marshal in Norfolk, Va., include: security and local intelligence documents, accounts of expenses for secret service and the capture of deserters, and accounts for maintenance and supplies. The Whelden papers also contain a 1754 account of the building of Ft. Pontoosuck, Mass., a few scattered personal letters, and a number of printed broadsides, as well as material relating to Whelden's militia service and his post-war career.

Reel 12
1,030 exposures

Records of the 54th Regiment, (Captain Luis F. Emilio, of Salem), 1863-1915

The research material contained in these four volumes was collected by Captain Luis F. Emilio, commander of E Company, to be used in his history of the regiment. The records consist of handwritten excerpts from field diaries, journals, newspapers, government documents, official correspondence, letters from former members of the regiment, and other sources between 26 Jan. 1863 and 5 Sep. 1865, and document the experiences of the 54th Regiment from recruitment to mustering-out ceremonies. The papers also contain information on Robert Gould Shaw, a well as an unbound scrapbook of letters, orders, clippings, and other memorabilia related to the 54th Regiment and Emilio's involvement with the Association of Officers of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, 1863-1915.

Reel 13-14
1,100 exposures

Correspondence of Charles Bowers and Charles E. Bowers, 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1835-1864

Most of the Bowers letters were addressed to Lydia Bowers, wife and mother of the two soldiers. The bulk of the correspondence was written between 1861 and 1863 and describes camp life and routine, as well as military action in places such as Cold Harbor, Chancellorsville, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Petersburg, Spottsylvania, the Wilderness, and Antietam. The letters of father and son are interfiled, and duplicate exposures have been made of faded items and items lacking in contrast.

Reel 15-16
1,783 exposures

Papers of George Middleton Barnard, 18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1848-1891

This reel contains Barnard's personal and military papers. Personal correspondence includes letters from his father George Middleton, his uncle James Munson, and his sister Sarah Livingston Barnard, while Barnard was living in Jamaica Plain, Mass., 1848, and later working as an import merchant in Buenos Aires, 1859-1860, as well as Barnard's correspondence with his father, mother Susan Livingston, and brother Inman Barnard during the Civil War, 1861-1864. Letters sent during the Civil War describe encampment at Hall's Hill outside Washington, D.C., Sep. 1861; the siege of Yorktown, Va., March 1862; the second battle of Bull Run in Virginia, 30 Aug. 1862; the battle of the Wilderness in Virginia, 5 May 1864; and many other campaigns and skirmishes. Barnard's military papers include equipment and ammunition returns and papers from a court martial, 4 Dec. 1862. The collection also contains a letter received by Barnard from a former soldier under his command, 23 Nov. 1891. Excluded from this microfilm are two very large muster rolls for C Company of the 18th Regiment and the 5th Corps, 1863-1864.

Reel 17
1,769 exposures

Correspondence of George Lincoln Prescott, 5th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1904

The bulk of the Prescott papers consists of Prescott's incoming and outgoing correspondence with friends and family members. The largest body of letters are from Prescott to his wife Sarah (Sallie) B. Edes, in which he describes daily military routine, camp life, drills, morale, troop movements, military strategy, and plans for the regiment's future action. Prescott's letters, written from Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Fort Warren in Boston Harbor where the 32nd was first garrisoned, also describe battles and action, including the first battle of Bull Run (5th Mass.) and the battles of Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Spotsylvania (32nd Mass.). Correspondents include John S. Keyes. The microfilm also contains official correspondence, some biographical and genealogical material, and a small amount of printed matter, including a report of Prescott's court martial. The material dated after June 19, 1864, relates to the settlement of his estate, military claims, and his posthumous brigadier generalship. Sometime in the early 20th century, typed transcripts of select letters were created, which are included on this microfilm with the original manuscript letters.

Reel 18-20
2,600 exposures

Papers of George Henry Gordon, Major General, United States Volunteers, 1842-1885

The Gordon papers have been divided into seven sections, filmed in this order: 1) general correspondence, 1842-1861 and 1872-1885; 2) military records, 1861-1865; 3) Benjamin F. Butler investigation, 1864-1865; 4) diaries, 1848-1885; 5) lectures and notes; 6) printed and miscellaneous material; and 7) oversize. The military records and diaries constitute the bulk of the material.

Gordon's correspondence describes his 1847 military service with General Winfield Scott during the Mexican War at the battles of Vera Cruz, Jalapa, Pueblo, Contreras, and Churubusco. In addition, there are letters, notes, maps, and other documents detailing Gordon's Civil War service, 1861-1865, including the battles of Winchester, Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and the defense of Charleston Harbor, S.C. Additional letters were written between the end of the Civil War and Gordon's death. Among the correspondents are John A. Andrew, Nathaniel P. Banks, Benjamin F. Butler, Benjamin R. Curtis, Wilder Dwight, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Lothrop Motley, Alfred H. Terry, and Henry Wilson.

The military records date from the Civil War and include special and general orders. The records of the Butler investigation consist of documents and correspondence relating to the 1864-1865 investigation of General Benjamin F. Butler, who was accused of trading with the Confederacy during the Civil War. Included with this material are general orders of the Army of the James, which Butler commanded. This section is not arranged chronologically, but numerically according to numbers assigned by Gordon. An index at the beginning of the section indicates subjects and the numbers assigned to them.

Gordon kept line-a-day diaries from 1848 to 1885, which are particularly full for 1862-1864. The lectures and notes section contains transcripts of various lectures on military subjects that were given by Gordon after the war. The printed and miscellaneous material consists of maps, printed matter on the Mexican War, and other documents.

Reel 21-29
6,600 exposures

Index by Military Unit

Unit Reel Collection
1st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 5 Emerson
2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 9 Storrow
5th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 15-16 Bowers
5th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 18-20 Prescott
18th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 17 Barnard
24th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 3 Baxter
25th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 2 Bartlett
27th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 5 Trafton
29th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 4 Beal
31st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 12 Whelden
32nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 18-20 Prescott
33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 6 Edes
33rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 4 Howland
34th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 2 Warner
35th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 4 Beal
39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 3 Linscott
39th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 5 Fowle
40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 4 Bearse
40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 7 Ricker
44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 9 Storrow
44th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 1 Bartlett
45th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Reel 7 Wellington
52nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Reel 8 Whitney
54th Regiment Reel 13-14 54th Regiment
1st Company, Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters Reel 1 Bicknell
2nd Company, Massachusetts Volunteer Sharpshooters Reel 1 Wentworth
1st Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery Reel 6 Brigham
2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery Reel 7 Eastman
7th Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery Reel 2 Cleveland
15th Massachusetts Volunteer Light Artillery Reel 10-11 Dame
5th Massachusetts Volunteer Cavalry Reel 1 Bartlett
14th New York Volunteer Infantry Reel 4 Beal
107th New York Volunteer Infantry Reel 4 Beal
U.S. Volunteers Reel 21-29 Gordon
U.S. Navy - U.S.S. Pocahontas Reel 6 Brigham
U.S. Navy - U.S.S. A. Houghton Reel 6 Brigham
U.S. Provost Marshal Reel 12 Whelden
U.S. Christian Commission Reel 8 Whitney

Index by Individual

Name Reel
George Middleton Barnard Reel 17
Edward Jarvis Bartlett Reel 1
John E. Bassett Reel 2
George H. Baxter Reel 3
Caleb H. Beal Reel 4
Edwin W. Bearse Reel 4
Luke Emerson Bicknell Reel 1
Charles Bowers Reel 15-16
Charles E. Bowers Reel 15-16
Joseph Lincoln Brigham Reel 6
Moses A. Cleveland Reel 2
Lorin Low Dame Reel 10-11
William H. Eastman Reel 7
Edward Louis Edes Reel 6
Robert Thaxter Edes Reel 6
Stephen Goodhue Emerson Reel 5
Luis F. Emilio Reel 13-14
George Edward Fowle Reel 5
George Henry Gordon Reel 21-29
Thomas S. Howland Reel 4
Andrew R. Linscott Reel 3
George Lincoln Prescott Reel 18-20
Oliver A. Ricker Reel 7
Samuel Storrow Reel 9
John W. Trafton Reel 5
J. Chapin Warner Reel 2
Henry Francis Wellington Reel 7
Lewis E. Wentworth Reel 1
Charles M. Whelden Reel 12
Henry Mitchell Whitney Reel 8

Preferred Citation

Microfilm edition of Civil War correspondence, diaries, and journals at the 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.


United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories.