1775-1958; bulk: 1860-1958

Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of correspondence, military papers, maps, notes, and writings of Horace Newton Fisher of Brookline, Mass. pertaining to his experiences in Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War, 1862-1863.

Biographical Sketch

Horace Newton Fisher was born 19 Oct. 1836 in Brookline, Mass., to Francis and Lydia (Kittredge) Fisher. His father was a merchant in the Boston firm of Fisher & Co., importers and commission merchants. Horace attended Boston Latin School, graduating as a Franklin Medal Scholar in 1853. He was a member of the Class of 1857 at Harvard and obtained his law degree from the Dane School of Law in 1859. After graduation, he and his brother John H. Fisher traveled throughout Europe where, in 1861, news reached them of the firing on Fort Sumter. They immediately returned to America where Horace prepared himself to go to war. He joined the Army of the Ohio on 14 Feb. 1862 at the rank of first lieutenant. He was soon promoted to captain, serving as a topographical engineer and volunteer aide-de-camp to General Alexander McDowell McCook and as inspector general with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the 20th Army Corps, Department of the Cumberland. He became disabled as a result of injuries received during the Battle of Chickamauga and was forced to resign his commission in Nov. 1863.

After the war, Horace traveled extensively in South America and, in 1865, married Kiameche Cecilia Mason (1848-1917) of Charleston, S.C., the daughter of Dr. William and Sarah (Bradley) Mason. The couple had four children: Francis Mason, Mary L., Sarah G., and Horace Cecil. Fisher became a merchant in Boston and served as the Chilean consul. He was active in the Loyal Legion and in documenting military strategy in the battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga. Horace died in 1916 and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass.


Fisher, Horace Cecil. A Staff Officer's Story: The Personal Experiences of Colonel Horace Newton Fisher in the Civil War. Boston: [s.n.], 1960.

Fisher, Philip A. The Fisher Genealogy: Record of the Descendants of Joshua, Anthony and Cornelius Fisher, of Dedham, Mass., 1636-1640. Everett, Mass.: Massachusetts Publishing Company, 1898.

Collection Description

This collection consists of correspondence, military papers, maps, notes, and writings of Horace Newton Fisher of Brookline, Mass. pertaining to his experiences in Kentucky and Tennessee during the Civil War, 1862-1863. The collection also includes manuscript copies of letters sent by George Washington, Horatio Gates, and Robert H. Harrison to Artemas Ward, 1775-1776, copied by Horace N. Fisher; letters and manuscript copies of documents related to Fisher's research and documentation of his Civil War experiences, 1870-1907; and chapters prepared by his son, Horace Cecil Fisher, for a book about his father entitled A Staff Officer's Story: The Personal Experiences of Horace Newton Fisher in the Civil War, published in 1960.

Letters from Fisher to his parents in Jan. 1862 detail his journey from Boston to Washington and Louisville, Ky. in an attempt to obtain an Army commission. On the advice of his father's friend John Ward of Louisville, Fisher pursued the influential former Secretary of War Joseph Holt to St. Louis, soliciting his help in obtaining an introduction to General Henry W. Halleck. Letters from 25-27 Jan. 1862 contain a description of Halleck's headquarters and an account of Fisher's unsatisfactory interview with him. Returning to Louisville, Fisher describes contacts leading to his assignment as volunteer aide to General Alexander McDowell McCook. Major engagements discussed in Fisher's letters to his family include the battles of Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh, accompanied by sketches and maps of the areas. Papers and letters from Oct.-Dec. 1862 cover the siege of Corinth, the battles of Perryville and Chaplin Hills, the occupation of Nashville, and the Stone River campaign.

The collection also contains citations from Generals McCook and Rosecrans, addressed to Governor Andrew Johnson, 15 Apr. 1863, recommending Fisher for an appointment to lieutenant colonel. Further correspondence includes accounts of the Tullahoma campaign, the battle of Liberty Gap, the crossing of the Elk River, the occupation of Winchester, Tenn. (with a lively description of his contact with Confederate sympathizers there), and the Chickamauga campaign. Included are many anecdotes of personal encounters with major military figures of the Western armies, with whom Fisher was in close association.

Official papers pertaining to Fisher's duties as inspector general include orders related to troop inspections, procedures for coping with stragglers and plundering, and a full inspector's report for the month of Sep. 1863. Letters written by his brother John, who replaced Horace as volunteer aide to General McCook, supplement his descriptions of military events and activities in the Tennessee campaign during the summer and fall of 1863.

Later papers include Fisher's studies, recollections, and observations of his war experiences, accounts of military operations, maps, references, and notes related to movements and strategy in the battles of Shiloh and Chickamauga, his activities in the Loyal Legion, and correspondence with former Army associates.

Acquisition Information

Gift of William Mason Austin, May 1976.

Box List to the Collection

Box 1
Letters & notes, 1775-1863
Box 2
Letters, notes, & writings, 1863-1958
Box 3
Notes and writings on Civil War battles
Box 4
Newspaper clippings on Civil War Battles
Box OS
Oversize material

Preferred Citation

Horace N. Fisher 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.


Fisher, Horace Cecil.
Gates, Horatio, 1728-1806.
Harrison, Robert Hanson, 1745-1790.
Ward, Artemas, 1727-1800.
Washington, George, 1732-1799.


United States. Army. Department of the Ohio.
United States. Army of the Cumberland.


Chickamauga, Battle of, Ga., 1863.
Family history--1850-1899.
Georgia--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Kentucky--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
Literary manuscripts.
Maps, Manuscript.
Shiloh, Battle of, Tenn., 1862.
Stones River, Battle of, Murfreesboro, Tenn., 1862-1863.
Tennessee--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Campaigns.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Maps, Manuscript.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Personal narratives.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Army of the Cumberland.
United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Regimental histories--Dept. of the Ohio.
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Personal narratives.

Materials Removed from the Collection

Unidentified lock of hair removed to the MHS Artifacts Collection and cataloged separately (Hair 03.068 East Stacks Row 4).