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 of papers of Lt. Col. Charles F. Morse of the 2nd Mass. Infantry, primarily letters written by Morse during the Civil War to members of his family.

Biographical Sketch

Charles Fessenden Morse was born on 22 Sep. 1839 in Boston, Mass., the son of Robert McNeil Morse and Sarah (Clark) Morse. He graduated from Harvard in 1858 and, in May 1861, enlisted as a first lieutenant in the 2nd Regiment, Mass. Volunteer Infantry. In July 1862, he was promoted to captain. He fought at Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg (the last as a major), and after Gettysburg was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He also served as provost marshal in Atlanta, Ga. during the Union occupation of that city. He was mustered out in July 1865.

After the war, Morse worked as a cotton farmer in Georgia for 5 years before traveling west in 1870 to begin a career in the railroad business. He was general manager of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad in Topeka, Kan.; general manager and then president of the Kansas City Stock Yards Co. in Kansas City, Mo.; and president of the Kansas City Metropolitan Street Railway. He was also active in many civic institutions.

Charles F. Morse married Mary Ellen Holdrege in 1874 and had the following children: Laura Morse (later Brewer), Marian Morse (later Adams), Arthur Holdrege Morse, Eleanor Holdrege Morse (later Barrows), Dorothy Morse, Charles Fessenden Morse, Jr., and Thomas Robeson Morse. In 1898, he published Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865. He retired to Falmouth, Mass. in 1913, where he died on 11 Dec. 1926.

Collection Description

This collection consists of papers of Lt. Col. Charles F. Morse of the 2nd Mass. Infantry, primarily letters written by Morse during the Civil War to his father Robert McNeil Morse, his mother Sarah (Clark) Morse, his brother Robert McNeil Morse, Jr., and his sister Ellen Clark Morse. Letters written from various posts throughout the southern states describe camp life, military routine, battles, and campaigns, including the battles of Cedar Mountain, Antietam, Chancellorsville, Resaca, and the siege of Atlanta in 1864. Many of the letters include drawings.

Later papers consist primarily of letters written to Morse on the publication of his Civil War letters and his account of the Battle of Gettysburg, many written by members of his regiment; and papers related to Morse's later career in the railroad business, in particular with the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, and with the Kansas City Stock Yards Co. Among the correspondents are Charles F. Adams, Edward P. Alexander, George L. Andrews, John A. Fox, John C. Ropes, Henry Sturgis Russell, and George A. Thayer.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. John Adams and C. F. Morse descendants, May 1952, Dec. 1954. Additions given by Thomas R. Morse, Aug. 1991.

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

Select letters from this collection have been published in:

Morse, Charles F. Letters Written During the Civil War, 1861-1865. [Boston]: Privately printed, 1898.

The collection is also available on as color digital facsimiles and microfilm, P-805, 3 reels. See the Microfilm Reel List below.

Organization of the Collection

The collection is organized chronologically.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1Folder 1digitized
June-July 1861
Box 1Folder 2digitized
Aug. 1861
Box 1Folder 3digitized
Sep. 1861
Box 1Folder 4digitized
Oct. 1861
Box 1Folder 5digitized
Nov. 1861
Box 1Folder 6digitized
Dec. 1861
Box 1Folder 7digitized
Jan. 1862
Box 1Folder 8digitized
Feb. 1862
Box 1Folder 9digitized
Mar. 1862
Box 1Folder 10digitized
Apr. 1862
Box 1Folder 11digitized
May 1862
Box 1Folder 12digitized
June 1862
Box 1Folder 13digitized
July 1862
Box 1Folder 14digitized
Aug. 1862
Box 1Folder 15digitized
Sep. 1862
Box 1Folder 16digitized
Oct. 1862
Box 1Folder 17digitized
Nov. 1862
Box 1Folder 18digitized
Dec. 1862
Box 1Folder 19digitized
Jan. 1863
Box 1Folder 20digitized
Feb. 1863
Box 1Folder 21digitized
Mar. 1863
Box 1Folder 22digitized
Apr. 1863
Box 1Folder 23digitized
May 1863
Box 1Folder 24digitized
June 1863
Box 1Folder 25digitized
July 1863
Box 1Folder 26digitized
Aug. 1863
Box 1Folder 27digitized
Oct. 1863
Box 1Folder 28digitized
Nov. 1863
Box 1Folder 29digitized
Dec. 1863
Box 2Folder 1digitized
Feb. 1864
Box 2Folder 2digitized
Mar. 1864
Box 2Folder 3digitized
Apr. 1864
Box 2Folder 4digitized
May 1864
Box 2Folder 5digitized
June 1864
Box 2Folder 6digitized
July 1864
Box 2Folder 7digitized
Aug. 1864
Box 2Folder 8digitized
Sep. 1864
Box 2Folder 9digitized
Oct. 1864
Box 2Folder 10digitized
Nov.-Dec. 1864
Box 2Folder 11digitized
Jan. 1865
Box 2Folder 12digitized
Mar.-May 1865
Box 2Folder 13digitized
June 1865
Box 2Folder 14digitized
July-Dec. 1865
Box 2Folder 15digitized
Box 2Folder 16digitized
Box 2Folder 17digitized
Box 2Folder 18digitized
Box 2Folder 19digitized
Box 2Folder 20digitized
May 1898
Box 2Folder 21digitized
June 1898
Box 2Folder 22digitized
July 1898
Box 2Folder 23digitized
Aug.-Sep. 1898
Box 2Folder 24digitized
Oct.-Dec. 1898
Box 2Folder 25digitized
Box 2Folder 26digitized
Box 2Folder 27digitized
Box 2Folder 28digitized
Box 2Folder 29digitized
Box 2Folder 30digitized
Box 2Folder 31digitized
1920, [1943], undated

Microfilm Reel List

Reel 1
Papers, 1861-1862
Reel 2
Papers, 1863-1864
Reel 3
Papers, 1865-1920, [1943]

Preferred Citation

Charles F. Morse 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.


Adams, Charles Francis, 1835-1915.
Alexander, Edward Porter, 1835-1910.
Andrews, George Leonard, 1828-1899.
Fox, John Andrews, 1836-1920.
Morse, Ellen Clark, 1842-
Morse, Robert McNeil, 1807-1891.
Morse, Robert McNeil, 1837-1920.
Morse, Sarah Maria Clark, 1816-1863.
Morse family.
Ropes, John Codman, 1836-1899.
Russell, Henry Sturgis, 1838-1905.
Thayer, George A. (George Augustine), 1839-1926


Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway Company.
Kansas City Stock Yards Co. (Kansas City, Mo.).
United States. Army. Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, 2nd (1861-1864).


Antietam, Battle of, Md., 1862.
Atlanta Campaign, 1864.
Cedar Mountain (Culpeper County, Va.), Battle of, 1862.
Chancellorsville, Battle of, Chancellorsville, Va., 1863.
Family history--1850-1899.
Gettysburg, Battle of, Gettysburg, Pa., 1863.
Railroad companies--United States.
Railroads--United States.
Resaca, Battle of, 1864.
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 Infantry, 2nd Volunteers.

Materials Removed from the Collection

A Civil War carte-de-visite album from this collection has been removed to the MHS Photo Archives (Photo. Coll. 243).