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Correspondence from the Civil War

One hundred fifty years ago today, on April 12, 1861, the United States Civil War began at Fort Sumter.

Two of our manuscript collections contain correspondence from the Civil War.

The Palmer Family Papers contain twenty-five letters written by or to various members of the Palmer Family during the mid to late nineteenth century. The letters discuss the Civil War and family matters in Ohio and South Carolina. Letters from William Palmer (1823-1862) to Thomas Palmer (1825-1908) illustrate the divisions between the brothers on issues surrounding the Civil War while the letter from J.W. McGuire to Thomas Palmer details the effects of the Battle of Cedar Creek on the Twenty-eighth Iowa Infantry.

The Walker, Spinning, and Durrell Families Papers, contains three letters from and one letter to Hiram Walker (1843-1921) during the time he served as a soldier in the United States Civil War. In his first letter, written in 1862 from a camp near Lexington, Kentucky, Hiram asks his parents to write and tell him if there is “any hope of settling this…for one day we hear it is about over and the next day we hear that England and France is a going to recognize the South.” In 1864, Hiram writes from south of Atlanta to say that they have Atlanta almost surrounded and that they are preparing to go on a big raid. In his last letter, written on April 27, 1865, he informs his parents that they have heard that “old Lee and his [w]hole army surrendered to Grant and Sheridan and that some infernal rascals killed Abe Lincoln and wounded old Seward and his son.”


Archives and Special Collections


Civil War Correspondence Manuscript collections