1860-1959; bulk: 1863-1865

Guide to the Collection

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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


This collection consists primarily of correspondence of Lt. Edmund Miles of Cambridge, Mass. with family members during the Civil War.

Biographical Sketch

Edmund Miles was born in Halesworth, England, on 19 June 1825 to Edmund (1791-1856) and Harriet (Giles) Miles (1795-1846). The family moved to Montreal, Canada, where Edmund grew up and learned the printing trade. On 4 May 1848, he married Elizabeth Cribb (1828-1907), and the couple moved to the U.S., settling in Cambridge, Mass. They had seven children: Edmund Elisha Miles (1849-1870); Harriet Anne Matilda Miles (1850-1929), who married George Allen; Francis Henry Miles (1853-1935), who married Mary Ella Cutler; Clara Elizabeth Miles (1855-1931), who married Edmund D. Studley; William Sydney Miles (1858-1883); Gannett W. Miles (1861-1867); and Georgiana Shaw Miles (1865-), who married Anthony John Philpott.

In Aug. 1862, Edmund Miles enlisted in the 41st Massachusetts Infantry and shipped out to Louisiana. The 41st Infantry was changed into the 3rd Massachusetts Cavalry in June 1863, and Miles served in Company F. He fought in many battles, including the Siege of Port Hudson and the Red River Campaign. He was seriously wounded in the leg at the Battle of Cedar Creek on 19 Oct. 1864 and spent many months in the hospital. After a promotion to second lieutenant in Nov. 1864, he was discharged on 14 July 1865.

After the war, Miles returned to Cambridge and worked as a printer for John Wilson & Son (later the Cambridge University Press). For many years, he was superintendent of the composing room. He was also an active member of the Grand Army of the Republic. He died on 12 Jan. 1899.

Collection Description

This collection contains correspondence of Lt. Edmund Miles during his service with the 41st Mass. Infantry and the 3rd Mass. Cavalry, 1863-1865. Letters written by Edmund to his brother William and wife Elizabeth in Cambridge, Mass. from various places in Louisiana and Virginia describe daily camp life, skirmishes, tactics, confiscation of items from Confederate houses, picket duty, motivation for enlisting, and casualties. Edmund describes the siege of Port Hudson, La., the Teche County campaign, and the Red River Expedition in Louisiana. Letters from Elizabeth, Edmund's children, and his nephew Alfred describe life in Cambridge, school, newspaper articles about the war, and family health. Also included is a circular letter addressed to Edmund from the Lincoln Guard in Boston, Mass. regarding an evening procession, 1860; Edmund's certificate of naturalization, 1862; his military discharge paper, 1865; obituaries and letters of condolence following his death in 1899; and a family genealogy composed by Hugh C. Norse in 1959.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Janet Cushman and Isabel Studley, May 2002.

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

The collection is also available as color digital facsimiles and on microfilm, P-803, 1 reel.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1Folder 1digitized
Box 1Folder 2digitized
Apr.-June 1863
Box 1Folder 3digitized
July-Aug. 1863
Box 1Folder 4digitized
Aug.-Dec. 1863
Box 1Folder 5digitized
Apr. 1864
Box 1Folder 6digitized
July 1864
Box 1Folder 7digitized
Aug.-Sep. 1864
Box 1Folder 8digitized
Oct. 1864

NOTE: Miles' commendation for bravery, 19 Oct. 1864, has been removed to Mss. Large.

Box 1Folder 9digitized
Nov.-Dec. 1864
Box 1Folder 10digitized
Box 1Folder 11digitized
Box 1Folder 12digitized

Preferred Citation

Edmund Miles papers, 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.


Miles family--Genealogy.
Miles, Elizabeth, 1828-1907.
Miles, William.


United States. Army. Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, 3rd (1863-1865).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 41st (1861-1863).


Family history--1850-1899.
Louisiana--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Port Hudson (La.)--History--Siege, 1863.
Red River Expedition, 1864.
Teche, Bayou (La.)--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Cavalry, 3rd Volunteers.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Massachusetts Infantry, 41st Volunteers.
Virginia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Two carte-de-visite photographs of Edmund Miles (Photo. 500.16.1) and his wife Elizabeth (Photo. 500.16.2) and one ambrotype of Edmund Miles (Photo. 2.165) have been removed from this collection.